‘Mamma Mia!’ dazzles


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: when it comes to movies, shows, you name it, I’m a wee bit jaded, and going into “Mamma Mia!” at The Fabulous Fox, my attitude was no different. Actually, you would think I’d know better at this point, since I always seem to be proven wrong. Anyway, I think you know where I’m going with this: “Mamma Mia!” was thoroughly entertaining—like sway-involuntarily-in-your-seat-and-fight-the urge-to-belt-out-“Dancing Queen,” entertaining. Featuring the songs of ‘70s Swedish pop group, ABBA, and written by two of its original members, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, “Mamma Mia!” was engaging from start to end.

“Mamma Mia!’s” storyline is a pretty simple (and, honestly, improbable) one: Sophie Sheridan (Kyra Belle Johnson) is about to get married, and she would really like her dad to attend the wedding—the only problem is: she doesn’t know who he is. According to the diary of her mother, Donna (Erin Fish), there are three potential papas; but, even Donna has never been sure who really has paternal rights, and she never bothered to tell any of the respective men about the child at all. Well, now Sophie is all grown-up (sort of, she’s twenty) and about to hear wedding bells, but who will walk her down the aisle in the father’s traditional role? In true musical form, Sophie takes matters into her own hands and invites all three men to the wedding — writing as her mother, so that when they arrive for the wedding in three months, she can swiftly determine who she has to thank for her bone structure, and they can all live happily ever after.

Yeah, it’s really absurd. I mean, I’ll buy that Donna never told Sophie who her father is and that Donna herself doesn’t really know. That’s all annoying (and probably immensely frustrating for Sophie), but why is everyone ignoring that Sophie broke all of her mother’s trust into little-itty-bitty pieces by stealing/reading her diary? And, no one seems all that angry with her for setting those broken trust-pieces on fire by inviting all three potential dads to her wedding? Like, what? And why, if Donna is so disconcerted by her daughter’s early marriage (which we quickly learn, she is), does she wait so dang long to talk about it? And why did all three men even come to the wedding? How are they all financially able to fly to Greece (where Sophie and Donna live) for the wedding? I get that they all had a fabulous “thing” with Donna 20 years ago when she was the lead singer of girl group Donna and the Dynamos, but wouldn’t at least one of them chicken out? Mostly, I’m mad that Sophie totally gets away with being a compulsive liar—because, come on!

Plot related questions aside, (because apparently no one but me cares and, frankly, plot almost never matters in musicals where the songs are good) “Mamma Mia!” was, as my dad always says, “Very well done.” ABBA’s incredible songs were sung with energy and accompanied by detailed and clever choreography. The stars were very well chosen, and I’d like to give special kudos to Laura Michelle Hughes and Sarah Smith, playing former members of Donna and the Dynamos Tanya and Rosie, respectively, for bringing so much vitality and talent to the show—their liveliness really gave the show extra oomph it needed.

So, yes I liked the show—although the plot may be the best, it made my foot tap involuntarily, which is always a good sign. The bottom line is this: If you’re looking for a show with a convincing storyline, “Mamma Mia!” might not be for you. If, instead, you’re looking for a musical that will make you smile with its energy, music and humor, even I can’t deny that with “Mamma Mia!” you can’t go wrong.

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