BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents MAMMA MIA!
In a plaza, by a taverna, beneath a broad blue and white Hellenic arch, and surrounded by the glittering Aegean (the elements that together define Douglas Clarke's elegant and idyllic set), Sophie Sheridan's (Alexandra Carter) scheme to discover the identity of her father ~ one of three of her mother's (Kaitlin Lawrence) former lovers ~ unfolds like the layers of flaky and honey-soaked baklava.
As villagers and old acquaintances (Jessica Medoff and Chae Clearwood) gather for Sophie's nuptials with Sky (Nicholas Kuhn), her unsuspecting mother, an "icon of independence" reaping the whirlwind of her glory days, is in wonderment at the appearance of her old flames ~ Harry (Brian Ashton Miller), Bill (Andy Meyers), and Sam (Matthew J. Taylor).
This is MAMMA MIA! ~ Arizona Broadway Theatre's zesty reprise of the ABBA-inspired musical, directed by Clayton Phillips, that never flags in its ability to stir up a hearty round of opas. The familiarity of the songs and the characters brings certain comfort to an already appreciative audience. Mark Foreman's orchestra knocks out ABBA's popular melodies with vigor. The ensemble steps lively to their airs. The leads deliver solid performances.
In what is otherwise a conventional but definitely bubbly production, the show snaps and crackles when Medoff (Tanya) and Clearwood (Rosie), as two-thirds of Mamma's long-ago-trio, Donna and the Dynamos, take to the stage. They bring a flair and panache to their roles that is most notable in their sparkling renditions of Chiquitita and Dancing Queen. Clearwood is especially beguiling and deliriously funny as she woos Bill in Take A Chance on Me.
Miller, Meyers, and Taylor represent three distinctive characters, reflecting obviously Donna's early flexibility when it came to taste in men. Of the three, each of whom is superb in their portrayals, Matthew Taylor as the catch that got away is heartthrob material, conveying emotion with the advantage of a rich and commanding voice.
MAMMA MIA! ~ replete with the songs and the moments that made it a pop phenom ~ runs through April 20th at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria, AZ.
Photo credit to Scott Samplin ~ L to R: Donna and the Dynamos (Jessica Medoff, Kaitlin Lawrence, Chae Clearwood)
Arizona Broadway Theatre ~ www.azbroadway.org ~ 7701 W Paradise Lane, Peoria AZ ~ Box office: 623-776-8400