The problem with reviewing theatre for several years, and in two different theatre active cities like Cleveland and DFW is that you begin to see shows more than once. Reviewing a show again is challenging.
I first reviewed Mamma Mia for sister station New 102 when the tour rolled through Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare in July of 2012. Here some excerpts:
“We are all familiar with the music of ABBA, even if against our will. “Dancing Queen” is one of those classics that everyone knows the words to and everyone likes, even if they wont admit to it. Take ABBA’s library of hits, mix in a storyline about a girl who wants to meet her Dad, the three potential candidates, a confused mom, a former girl band, hot guys and set it against the backdrop of a beautiful taverna in the Greek islands and you have Mamma Mia!
The story revolves around the wedding of Sophie Sheridan and her mother Donna. Donna is a single mother, by choice, struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the emotions of her only child getting married. Sophie throws a wrench in the works when she reads her mother’s diary from the year she was conceived, narrows her paternity down to three possible candidates and invites all three men to the island for her wedding! Hilarity and awkwardness ensue.”
The version that rolled through Cleveland was stellar in acting, staging and overall polish. The current incarnation shares the staging and the familiar toe-tapping music, but has lost a little of it’s shine. Perhaps due to road wear, or it’s now non-union (read: less expensive) cast.
The cast in this version had a few bright points, Chelsea Williams as Sophie for example, and a few duller spots like Gabrielle Mirabella’s less than enthusiastic portrayal of Tanya and a forgettable Sky…the latter is likely the writing as I have never been impressed by an actor in that role. So I’ll leave Chris Stevens alone…at least he is pretty. The audio mix was off quite a bit the night I saw the show as well, that could be due to Music Hall’s cavernous auditorium.
Despite the few negatives, the show is still fantastic and I had a blast visiting the familiar music of AABA through Mamma Mia. This show is a blast and should definitely be considered when planning your theatre visits this year.
Mamma Mia plays through the weekend at Music Hall at Fair Park and you can score tickets and info at DallasSummerMusicals.com