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BWW Reviews: MAMMA MIA! a Smash Hit at the Music Hall in Kansas City

Mamma Mia! what a way to open a season. Mamma Mia! the feel-good musical that has over 5,000 performances on Broadway opened Tuesday October 7 at the Music Hall in Kansas City, MO. Phyllida Lloyd directs the Broadway Across America special engagement that runs through Sunday October 12. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote the music and lyrics with choreography by Anthony Van Laast.

Sophie the daughter of a single parent discovers a diary that leads her to believe that one of three men may be her father. Her mother Donna has never told her of the men or told the men about her daughter. Sophie invites the three to the island to attend her wedding, making them believe the invitation came from her mother. What occurs is what the Associated Press referred to as "quite simply, a phenomenon." Inspired by the magical music of ABBA, Mamma Mia! is magnificently performed with memorable pieces such as "Money, Money, Money," "Dancing Queen," "Take a Chance on Me," and the title song "Mamma Mia" among others.

Georgia Kate Haege stars as Donna, the bride-to-be's mother who has built her island getaway and raised a daughter without the help of a man. Haege has a powerful stage presence and a voice that I could listen to all night long. At times when singing with the cast her voice encompasses all of them and your attention drawn directly to her.

Chelsea Williams plays the bride Sophie, who is questioned by Sky her fiancé if she is marrying him for love or the wedding is just a ploy to discover her father. Williams does a wonderful performance, full of energy and beautiful vocals.

Tanya played by Gabrielle Mirabella and Rosie played by Sara Smith are old friends of Donna's who at one time performed with her as Donna and the Dynamos. Both actors give fine performances, their characters adding many hilarious moments to the production. Jeff Drushal as Sam Carmichael, Michael Colavolpe as Bill Austin, and Mark A. Harmon as Harry Bright play the three possible fathers. Each gives an outstanding performance, though Drushal has a haunting speaking voice that is enhanced in his vocals.

Eric Presnall plays Sky the fiancé. Emily Price and Olivia Ashley Reed play Sophie's friends Ali and Lisa. P. Tucker Worley plays Pepper and Tony Tillman portrays Eddie both friends of Sky. Royce James McIntosh plays Father Alexandrios whose job it is to marry the two.

The production has a large ensemble, which includes Kansas City native Emmeline Wood. Wood has appeared at Theatre in the Park, Music Theatre for Young People, New Theatre Restaurant, Starlight, and with the Kansas City Symphony.

Mamma Mia! continues at the Music Hall through October 12 with evening performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Saturday matinee begins at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Music Hall Box Office at 13th and Central, by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the Kansas City Theater League website. Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia.

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