Music is the star in ‘Mamma Mia’
Vail CO, Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” There are some theater productions a person can see one time, and once is enough. There is no desire or need to sit through it ever again. And, every so often, a show comes out that, like fine wine, seems to get better and better as it ages and with each viewing.
“Mamma Mia” is one such play, a musical I first saw in Las Vegas on its first national tour (the show originally played on Broadway). It was an exhilarating experience, with the audience spending more time on its feet than in its chairs ” dancing and singing along to all of their favorite and well-loved Abba songs. While the actual performances were good, the music was the real star.
I also saw this show in Denver the last time the touring production came through and while it didn’t generate and maintain the insane level of Vegas-style excitement, it was highly enjoyable, with better acting and perfectly delivered lines.
And then, Tuesday night, I found myself giggling harder and more often than I ever have during this show. In fact, everyone around me was laughing. I even found myself crying a time or two, moved by the situations of the characters, and by their intensity while telling the story.
Most of the performances were solid and engaging. The punch lines and innuendo were delivered flawlessly; and a high level of energy was maintained throughout most of the production.
The story is about 20-year-old Sophie, who lives on one of the Greek islands and is planning her wedding. Early on, Sophie finds an old diary of her mom’s, from her “wild days,” and learns that her father could be one of three different men. In her quest to make sure her wedding is perfect and done correctly, Sophie invites all three men, unbeknownst to her mom, to attend a wedding on the island. Sophie’s independent, single mom ” Donna ” runs a tavern on the island. As the wedding draws closer, Donna’s two best friends show up, along with the three men from her past. And there’s your set-up for all the tension and romance possible in a two-hour show.
My favorite character has always been Rosie (played by Kittra Wynn Coomer); she’s one third of the Dynamos (the three ladies’ old singing group) and one of Donna’s best friends. Every scene in which she was a part scored numerous chuckles, giggles and even belly laughs from the entire audience. She played the part with just the right amount of exaggeration and fun. The scene which earned the biggest laughs in every “Mamma Mia” production that I’ve attended is always the one in the bedroom, with Donna, Tanya and Rosie, as they relive the “good old days,” accompanied by “Dancing Queen.” Tuesday was no exception.
The only weak link that I could see was the person portraying Pepper, played by the stand-in Corey Bradley. He wasn’t awful, and had I not seen two shows prior to this one, with really strong actors in that role, I would have thought he was fine. It just didn’t seem like he could keep up with Tanya during their scenes.
“Mamma Mia!” is only playing in Denver for a few short days, but if you make the time to go see it, you will not be disappointed. Although the dancing and singing may have been limited to the stage up until the last three songs Tuesday night, I did see a lot of heads around me bobbing and bouncing in time to the music ” proving once again that Abba, their music and a well-told story will never go out of style.