Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson &
Book by Catherine Johnson.
Directed by Jim Corti.
Choreographed by William Carlos Angulo.
At the Paramount Theatre, Aurora.
ABBA’s disco music still a pleasure for many in toe-tapping jukebox musical.
Mamma Mia! is an amazing show in that it is immensely popular despite being a pop-rock score by ABBA of mostly forgettable songs. In a curious way, I enjoyed the event more for its charm and its feel-good elements. I was mesmerized by how much audiences enjoyed Mamma Mia! They simply went wild with enthusiasm throughout. Amazing, since it is full of average rock songs and the story is fine but not overwhelming. I guess audiences come to hear ABBA songs performed on nice sets by talented actors. I guess?
Why such overpowering response to such material is, indeed, one of life’s little mysteries. I’ll not try to render a guess as to why, I’ll simply state that Mamma Mia! entertains audiences, period. I’ll also state that as a piece of musical theatre, Mamma Mia! has merit. It has a workable with gorgeous lighting and projection Design (by Greg Hofmann and Christopher Ash), depicting a Greek Island.
Synopsis: a mother, a daughter, three possible dads. A mother confronts her past as three men converge on a Greek Island to attend a wedding. They realize that one of them could be Sophie’s father. The mother doesn’t know that the daughter invited them so she could have her ‘real’ father in her life. With 22 ABBA songs cleverly interspersed by book writer Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia! works magic on all who see it. It simply captivates us. This lightweight fare is a delight for everyone, especially those between 40 and 50 years old. ABBA was their group. ‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘Honey, Honey,’ and ‘Take A Chance On Me’ recall the 70’s when romance, sensuality and adventure reigned. I never appreciated disco so ABBA was only a curious fad for me.
The cast features Amy Montgomery as Donna Sheridan (the Mamma). she sings well and is a charismatic matriarch.
Michael Gillis, Steve O’ Connell and Jeff Diebold are fine as the three maybe fathers. Kiersten Frumklin as Sophie was charming with a powerful voice . I like the work of Sare Sevigny as Rosie as a comic and Jennifer Knox as the sexy Tanya. The cast of buff boys is led by Ryan McBride as Sky, Sophie’s love interest with a terrific ensemble featuring Aaron Patrick Craven as Pepper.
Mamma Mia! looks terrific with neat lighting effects and credible choreography (by William Carlos Angulo). The mini disco concert at the show’s end was breathtaking as the principles donned Elvis-like jumpsuits complete with large bell-bottoms and fringe. The silver, yellow and orange colors jump into our eyes almost causing sensual overload as the songs blare through the gigantic speakers. Everyone left the theatre grooving. Mamma Mia! is one of the most toured show around the world as over 54 million people all around the world have fallen in in love with the Abba show. The Paramount’s production is a fine as any tour I’ve seen of this amazing show.
At Paramount Theatre, 23 E Galena Blvd, Aurora, IL, call (630) 896-6666, www.paramountaurora.com, tickets $59-$44, Wed. at 1:30 & 7pm, Thursday at 7pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3 & 8 pm, Sunday 1 & 5 pm, running time is2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through October 30, 2016.