Review: MAMMA MIA! Dazzles at Milwaukee's Marcus PAC

The run is quick, but the music is timeless!

By: Feb. 25, 2024
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Review: MAMMA MIA! Dazzles at Milwaukee's Marcus PAC
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I was a young teenager when I discovered ABBA. The Swedish Europop group was responsible for my year of deep dive into the dreamy, dazzling, upbeat world of 70s disco. I burned an audio CD (peak mid-2000s reference) with the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! and I got to work. The work was mesmerizing every line of its titular track and choreographing a dance to match. I invited my parents and older sister into my room one afternoon for a viewing of my rendition of the song. Needless to say, my bedroom "stage floor" barely accommodated my perfectly timed kicks and turns. I ended to a slow and quiet round of applause. My family members were very good sports. 

Mamma Mia!

Almost two decades after my ABBA peak and 25 years after its first production, Mamma Mia! the musical is making the rounds with a stop at Milwaukee's own Marcus PAC. Famously based off the book by Catherine Johnson and featuring music by ABBA, the story centers around Sophie, who is set to get married in Greece, and the mystery of her biological father's identity. According to her mother's journal entries from right around the time she was conceived, the father is probably one of three men written about. Sophie invites all three men to her Greek island wedding, and her mom is not in on the plans until much later in the show. If this story line is the show's bold print, the relationship between Sophie and her mom, Donna, is the show's heartbeat. 

Mamma Mia!

In this production, Donna (Christine Sherrill of Wisconsin) and Sophie (Alisa Melendez) share tears, fights, laughter, and a lot of love amidst the comedic silliness that most of the numbers deliver. Joining them are Donna's friends and former "the Dynamos" girl group members Tanya (Jalynn Steele) and Rosie (Carly Sakolove), who provide some of the most entertaining physical and musical comedy the show sees. The three potential biological fathers, played by Jim Newman as Bill, Rob Markell as Harry, and Victor Wallace (another Wisconsin resident) as Sam, are equally as funny and vibrant in their roles. Also characters of their own are the costumes, at times as bright and dazzling as their musical numbers, and at others as white and blue as the hot Greek sun on the waves. 

Mamma Mia!

Of course, Mamma Mia! wouldn't be the musical we know and love without the music. The songs were just as fun to follow along as they were when they first hit audiences. The show fittingly ends with a sing-along that was more generous than anticipated. The encore gave the audience a chance to stand up, sing, and dance along as the cast brought a last burst of energy to our favorite songs, including a rendition of Waterloo, not previously performed in the show. As I was singing and swaying to the words of Dancing Queen during the sing-along ending, I had the chance to take a look around my seat and saw most everyone near me doing the same; wide smiles on every face. The 13-year-old in me would've appreciated an audience half as captive for her performance. She danced to every word, until the end. Mamma Mia! runs until February 25, 2024 at the Marcus PAC.




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