Mamma Mia! will get you standing, waving, singing along
The jukebox hit musical and inspiration of the 2008 motion picture starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, Mamma Mia!, tells the story of a young girl, Sophie Sheridan (played by Kyra Belle Johnson), preparing for her “big white wedding,” yet eager to have her unknown father give her away on the special day. Thinking her heart will recognize her father upon first sight, Sophie takes the risk of inviting all three possible fathers to her wedding, unbeknownst to her mother, Donna (played by Erin Fish). From there, the light-hearted drama begins as they are all staying at the same Greek bed and breakfast.
Quickly arriving on the wedding prep scene are long-time childhood friends of Donna’s, Rosie (played by Sarah Smith) and Tanya (played by Laura Michelle Hughes). These two kick the show off right away, getting the audience loosened up and laughing with their rendition of the hit song “Dancing Queen.” You’ve never seen two more fun and energetic middle-aged women chasing each other around, dancing and singing into hairbrushes and bananas like school girls. The on-stage chemistry between Smith and Hughes is delightful, and Smith, in particular, keeps the audience roaring with laughter with her animated faces, exaggerated movements, and playful banter with Hughes. With zinger lines from writer Catherine Johnson like: “Marriage is an institution . . . for people who belong in an institution!” it’s not hard for these women to really strut their stuff and That. They. Do!
While the set and costumes aren’t really the focus of this show, as with many other Broadway productions, one scene in particular proves quite the visual stunner. Young Sophie, as typical of any stressed bride-to-be, falls asleep and finds her mind racing with thoughts of the wedding. In comes half or more of the cast wearing wet suits with full scuba gear in blinding neon green and pink colors, alongside men in loud, yet impressive, three-piece Gingham suits escorting in the veiled bride for the big give away. From there, as with most sleepy dreams, Sophie’s mind takes some entertaining twists on reality that you’ll likely love.
If you’re a fan of the live orchestra portion of a Broadway production, you’re going to love Mamma Mia! With music and lyrics by Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! features several hit songs from one of the most iconic and influential pop groups of all time, the 70’s era band ABBA. Conductor Kevin Casey has the thrill of directing the band (and keeping the audience swaying and singing along) to the band’s most popular sensations including “S.O.S.,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance On Me,” and of course, “Mamma Mia.”
Well suited for both teens and their middle-aged parents, by the end of the show, the cast of Mamma Mia! has the audience standing, waving their arms, and singing along to the tunes, making the theater feel like an Abba concert (sans the magic dragon smoke, of course). If the music alone doesn’t take you there, the stars’ simply fabulous Elvis-inspired and skin-tight satin, bedazzled body suits (complete with flowy fabric wings and knee-boots) surely will. Take your mom and see if you agree.
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the internationally-known Mamma Mia! has live performances at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall through Sunday, May 1, 2016. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office or online at www.TPAC.org.