Review Roundup: MAMMA MIA! at San Jose Stage Company; What Did The Critics Think?

Review Roundup: MAMMA MIA! at San Jose Stage Company; What Did The Critics Think?San Jose Stage Company presents the final production of The Stage's 36th Anniversary Season, the smash hit ABBA musical MAMMA MIA! Featuring music and lyrics by Benny Anderssonand Björn Ulvaeus and a book by Catherine Johnson, MAMMA MIA! runs through July 7, 2019 at San Jose Stage Company (490 South 1st Street, San Jose, CA, 95113).

San Jose Stage's production of MAMMA MIA! will be directed by Allison F. Rich* (who will also play the role of "Tanya Cresham-Leigh"), with choreography by Keith Pinto(who will also play the role of "Harry Bright"). Martín Rojas Dietrich will serve as Associate Music Director. The press opening will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets range from $32 - $60 and can be purchased through the Box Office at (408) 283-7142 or online at www.thestage.org.

John Huân Vu, The San Jose Blog: As the Overture starts, the five band orchestra is found playing at the center back part of the stage led by The Stage former cast member and now conductor, Martín Rojas Dietrich. Despite the small theater, the orchestra was able to deliver all the songs allowing an ABBA fan to feel the music resonating in their hearts. Although I came in with high expectations, what really hit the musical out of the park were the three cast members that made Donna and the Dynamos (Donna, Tanya, and Rosie) including their delivery of the infamous song, "Dancing Queen." Allison F. Rich, musical director and cast member, continues to deliver a solid performance as Tanya including her seductive flirtation with Pepper, played by Michael J. Wu, in "Does Your Mother Know." Jill Miller, who played Rosie, performed a great duet with Jeffrey Brian Adams, who played Bill, in "Take a Chance on Me" with a nod to some future BDSM. Nevertheless, to round out the trio was a spectacular performance by Adrienne Herro who played Donna. From the first scene to the last, Adrienee Herro evoked Donna's character as a mother who is not only confused and frustrated but also loving and fun.

Let's see what the critics think!

Michael J. Vaughn, Operaville: Stage's production delivers abundant energy, intensified by its cozy space. Keith Pinto's choreography is endlessly inventive and sexy, and the band led by Martín Rojas Dietrich delivers a genuine ABBA sound. The vocals are solid throughout, with a few definite standouts. Playing the lead "father candidate," Noel Anthony displays a real talent for connecting song to character, particularly with "Knowing Me, Knowing You," a bit of fatherly advice for his potential daughter. Adrienne Herro plays mother-of-the-bride Donna with a girl-next-door appeal (much preferable to Meryl Streep's annoying glamour-pus) and hits an emotional peak with "The Winner Takes It All." Both songs remind us that the ultimate Euro party band could also deliver real heartbreakers.

Judy Richter, AISLE SAY San Fransisco: As the lyrics to the title song go, "how can I resist ya?" it's almost impossible to resist the memorable songs from ABBA, the Swedish pop group that started in the 1970s. They include such toe-tappers as "Honey, Honey," "Money, Money, Money," "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and many more, mostly by ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. All of them are performed well by SJ Stage's energetic cast as they form the outline for the book by Catherine Johnson. Besides the music itself, much of the credit for this production's success goes to Rich, who wears three hats. Besides playing the oft-married Tanya, she's the show's director and its vocal director. Associate musical director Martín Rojas Dietrich is part of the five-man, upstage band.
Charlie Jarrett, Martinez News-Gazette: Comparatively, of the several "Mamma Mia!" productions we've seen over the years, this theaters stage is somewhat smaller, presenting a bigger challenge to its producers. However, this did not seem to present a problem as every moment in this production was bigger than life. The staging, while simple, was artfully adequate, in large part due to the superb dance and set movement choreography by Keith Pinto. The four lady leads, Adreinne Herro as Donna Sheridan, Allison F. Rich as Tanya Cresham-Leigh, Jill Miller as Rosie Mulligan, and Allison J. Parker as Sophie Sheridan (the young lady whose wedding is pending) are absolutely terrific. The three prospective dads, Keith Pinto as Harry Bright, Jeffrey Brian Adams as Bill Austin, Noel Anthony as Sam Carmichael, and soon-the to-be wed Sky as Sam Faustine, Sophie's fiancé, are delightfully superb. All 18 actors and 5 band members make the music of ABBA rise alive again, as memorable as ever, and if you are an ardent follower of ABBA, then "Mamma Mia!" is absolutely the show you should not miss.

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