BWW Review: MAMA MIA! Dances in at Fort Wayne Civic
Based on songs by ABBA, Mamma Mia! is established in a Greek island where a young lady named Sophie Sheridan is about to get married. Getting married without her birth father giving her away is deeply troubling her, so she sets to remedy that. However, she really has zero clue who he is, so she invites three men who were amorously involved with her mother some 20 years ago to the wedding. When they arrive on the island, Sophie's mother, Donna Sheridan, is brought back memories of love and heartbreak.
First, we must point out that creating a musical from a set amount of predetermined songs is incredibility difficult and is incredibly hard to pull out. What's worth mentioning is that there are 22 ABBA songs woven into the plot. Unfortunately, most of them are put into areas where they have very much to do with the overall plot. While all the songs were definitely well performed renditions, the way each of those songs are placed just make it hard for us to get invested in them.
Though, with that being said, there are actually some songs brought in that we thought worked quite well with where they were placed. 'Chiquitita' works as a song where Donna's friends, Tanya and Rosie, try asking what her problem is. You can definitely feel that from the actresses, Pam Good and Susannah Chadwell, both of who were huge standouts for us. 'One of Us' and 'S.O.S.' both work in a subplot involving Donna's previous relationship with Sam Carmichael (who also happens to be probably the most levelheaded character in the whole show). It evidently was the night of the sidekicks because Ali (Kara Tharpe) and Lisa (Chrissy Weadick) were easy standouts as well. They had their comedic timing down to a T, and they're acting was believable.
On a technical side of things, as theatergoers, we often miss out on the nuances that are really the whole backbone of productions. Scenic Designer, Adam Fletcher, helps us envision that fictional Greek taverna with its shuttered windows and eaves, using moveable set pieces to evoke different settings. Easily one of the best aspects of the show was the often-overlooked lighting designed by Corey Lee, who has some serious skill that rivals Broadway productions we review.
Take it from this resistant ABBA fan: Mamma Mia! at Fort Wayne Civic was like a Mediterranean vacation without airports or passports. Tickets are already selling out quickly, so snag these soon before the production ends on May 12th.