BWW Review: MAMMA MIA! at The Firehouse Theatre
Here we go again.
Another production of Mamma Mia! has just opened its first weekend in the DFW area. The Firehouse Theatre has proven that no matter how many other showings of this production that there are in a 20 mile radius, they have no trouble attracting the ABBA fans. The house was full Saturday night with an audience eager to see the fun that is Mamma Mia!
With direction by Bruce R. Coleman and choreography by Kelly McCain, this duo kept the audience fully engaged and entertained. The choreography I feel deserves special recognition. It was dynamic, energetic, and incredibly fun. Where some choreographers struggle with dead space and slow movements during an upbeat number, McCain's movement flowed and energized the audience. I should also mention that Coleman and McCain were given an incredibly talented ensemble all gifted in a level of dance technique that can be hard to find in other ensembles. The two level set, designed by David Walsh, was beautifully done and opened up the small stage. Lighting design by Adam Livingston also deserves a job well done. The design paired well with the gorgeous costumes, designed by Sakura Brunette. The music direction by Erin McGrew Herndon was flawless both vocally and instrumentally.
Lindsay Hayward (Donna) and Anna Chase Lanier (Sophie) gave a sweet depiction of this iconic mother-daughter relationship. Hayward's voice took on "The Winner Takes It All" with ease and was a joy to watch. Lanier also gave a great vocal performance, however some of her acting choices need refining and refreshed. Her stronger scenes were with the close interactions between Hayward and Ryan C. Machen who portrayed her fiance, Sky. Overall these two ladies gave strong performances for two character's with long, intense tracks.
And of course you can't go without mentioning the Dynamos, Tanya, played by Arianna Movassagh, and Rosie played by Sherry Etzel. These women were bold, funny, and cheeky. Everything you would expect from Tanya and Rosie. Etzel had the difficult task of performing the entire show with a faulty mic, and also speaking her lines often over distracting wave sound effects. These sound effects weren't really necessary and need to be turned down in volume if the mic troubles persist. Or turned down regardless. Etzel pushed through beautifully.
Last but not least, Donna's three suitors, Sam (Ken O'Reilly), Bill (Scott Bardin), and Harry (Robert San Juan), all gave very strong performances. It takes special men to come out in neon jumpsuits for the Mega Mix and they rocked it. I will say a drawback to some of their scenes was that they were blocked in a way that all of their backs were turned away from their scene partners throughout many numbers for prolonged periods of time. I was itching for them to turn and engage with their scene partners often. Some moments, I could tell the actors were wanting that too. Turning your back away a few times is fine, but almost every number was too much. These actors worked with the blocking they were given and still gave strong performances despite the flaws.
All in all, this show was a lot of fun to watch and I would recommend all fans of ABBA to enjoy this production. If you are going to enjoy this production then please, get up and dance during the Mega Mix at the end and let loose!