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MAMMA MIA!

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Starring Kim Huffman, Anna Madgett, Kerry Dorey, Laurie Murdoch, and Keith Kemps

A young woman invites three men to her wedding, intent on finding out which one is her father.

 

 

4 stars

October 26th, 2003

 
    Amid all the comedy and theatrics, the story was quite touching, and the characters well-realized.

I never expected this production to be so funny. It kept me laughing through the entire first act. Although the second act was not as funny, it, too, had its comedic moments, while the story came to the forefront.

This is not high art -so much of the comedy is very crude, and it's hilarious. Seeing Donna's two friends sing Chiquitita to her was completely unexpected, and, as such, was made doubly funny.

The show actually starts out on a serious note, and I don't think there is very much comedy in the Prologue, except in a certain school-girl giggly kind of way. Sophie is wondering about her dad, who she has invited to her wedding in three months' time. Of course, the trick is that she doesn't know who her dad is, so she has invited all three people whom her mother slept with during a fun and sex-filled couple of weeks twenty years ago. Now all three have accepted the invitations, but her mother doesn't know they were invited.

The first act plays through the reunion, when Sophie asks the three men not to tell her mother that they were invited to the wedding, and then Donna meets them as well. She has different recollections for all of them, interspersed with more Abba songs. All the acting and singing was great here. Donna doesn't know why these ghosts from her past have come back to haunt her. Sophie thought she would recognize her father when she saw him, but she sees parts of herself in all three men.

The sidekicks keep things going. Donna's two friends have grown up in different ways, but they still manage to keep her young. One has had so much plastic surgery, the other is a little heftier than she was when they formed a pop group. Seeing them sing Super Trouper at Sophie's bachelorette party was a blast.

Donna's two friends don't get too much to do except be supportive of her. Her fiancÚ, Sky, has a couple of friends as well, and they were hilarious. Typical guys, they flirt with the girls, and really just show up for the wedding, doing nothing else about it. Pepper in particular, was the funniest. He was constantly hitting on Donna's friend Tanya, obviously taken sexually with her fake body.

The three "dads" actually take the shock of their situation fairly well. Sophie takes them aside and each one discovers on his own that he might be her father. Each one is shocked, but takes pride, promising to walk her down the aisle the next day. From having no dad to walk her down the aisle, suddenly she has three!

The day of the wedding comes, and Sophie is getting panicked, to the point where she confesses to Sky what she did, and he stalks away, angry that she didn't share it with him.

Donna, meanwhile, gets visits from two of the three men to her room as she is preparing for the day. Harry tries to pay for the wedding, remembering the good times they had in Paris before he followed her to Greece. Sam, the conceited architect, who obviously still pines for Donna, thinks they should get back together, not just for Sophie's sake, but he is rebuffed (by Donna singing "The Winner Takes it all"). Bill, meanwhile, has a conversation with Donna's friend Rosie, where they finally admit their feelings for one another, as he frets about Sophie's wedding. Each of these confrontations is accompanied by a great rendition of appropriate songs, but ones that I never would have thought of using! So many of the songs take on totally different connotations than when they are heard on the radio, just because of who is singing, and what they are talking about.

My father was a great Abba fan, and I used to skate (in circles forever...) at the local arena in the late 1970s, so I heard a lot of Abba when I was growing up. I knew all the beats, and couldn't keep still through these songs. It was great to see some hilarious situations and unexpected singers singing them. The only song that I expected in the proper place was "I do, I do, I do, I do, I do." However, even that wasn't totally expected, as Sophie decides at the last second that she was getting married for the wrong reasons, and calls it off. Instead, Sam decides that it would be a shame to waste a wedding, and proposes to Donna!

While it was a shame to see that Sophie and Sky didn't end up getting married (I thought they could have had a double wedding, since they loved each other so much anyway), the scene at the chapel was still very touching. Sophie decided that she wanted her mother to walk her down the aisle instead of her potential father, leaving each of the men confused. They each decide that they are proud to be even one third of Sophie's father -and Sam announces to Donna that he is actually gay!

The presentation was a pure comedy, especially where Donna is concerned, but it had some very touching moments concerning Sophie as she tries to figure out who she is, through who her father is. The sets were simple, yet beautiful all the same. There was a cool path that rose into a raised walkway when needed, which I appreciated a lot.

All in all, this was a great, and very fun production. It didn't blow me away, but it did surprise me, and I laughed a lot.

 
   

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