A jukebox musical with all of the pleasure and none of the guilt

By: Sep. 25, 2022

Here we go again. After the Broadway run, countless touring companies and two movies, does the world need another production of "Mamma Mia!"? Yes. Yes, it does. And Skylight Music Theatre is delivering the exuberant '70s joy-fest through Oct. 16.

"Mamma Mia!" wasn't the first jukebox musical, but it may be the most popular, and it is distinct from other successful examples ("Jersey Boys" "Beautiful -- The Carole King Musical") in that it weaves Abba's greatest hits (written primarily by Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus) into an original story rather than an artist biography.

Because of this, some of the songs make more sense in the plot than others. Many, like "Dancing Queen" and "Money, Money, Money" are on point. Others are more of a stretch.

Luckily, the Skylight cast, lead by Lisa Estridge and Camara Stampley, is very limber. What the story occasionally lacks in logic, it more than makes up in an energy that's impossible to resist if the opening night audience is any indication.

Director and choreographer Monica Kapoor, who was in the Broadway production for seven years, leads the entire talented cast in an unabashed embrace of the show's inherent silliness and good humor.

Estridge plays Donna, an independent single mom who runs a hotel in the Greek islands. She is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of two friends/former bandmates from 20 years past. Her daughter, played by the incandescent Stampley, secretly invites three men from her mother's past in the hopes (based on a clandestine reading of her mom's diary) that one is her father.

Kelly Britt and Amanda Satchell as the former partners in disco crime, are both given her own opportunity to shine and each grabs them with both hands. While "Mamma Mia" is all about girl power, the men (Ben Broughton as the groom-to-be and Ben George, Jake Horstmeyer and Victor Wallace as the potential dads) more than hold their own.

Wallace, in particular, wows with his powerful vocals. That power, and a richness born of experience, is more than matched by Estridge's amazing voice, while Stampley's is all youthful joy and longing.

"Mamma Mia" is equal parts heart, sparkle and spandex -- the latter two thanks to Costume designer Jason Orlenko.

I heard someone once refer to the "Mamma Mia" movies (Meryl Streep, Peirce Brosnan and (gulp) Cher) as guilty pleasures. Skylight's giddy "Mamma" is all of the pleasure with none of the guilt.