Tuesday, October 17, 2006

300 words of critical gold

GOLD, I say! 300 words is not a lot, so here's what I did with Mamma Mia! for class...

Unlike some of the recent spate of jukebox musicals, “Mamma Mia!” isn’t just a theatrical tribute to ABBA. Instead, it’s a story about a young woman in search of her father before she gets married. Her quest brings three of her mother’s former flames to their Greek isle home on the eve of her wedding, and the story unfolds from there – by way of ABBA’s greatest hits.

The national tour of “Mamma Mia!” arrived in Syracuse’s Crouse-Hinds Theater Tuesday night, kicking off the 2006-07 Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series.

As Sophie, the bride-to-be, Syracuse native Carrie Manolakos infused her character with naivete and spunk. Annie Edgerton and Laura Ware gave the performance its best moments and biggest laughs as Tanya and Rosie, Sophie’s mom’s saucy best friends.

Anthony Van Laast’s exuberant choreography showcased the strength of the full company throughout. One of the show’s most imaginatively staged numbers, “Lay All Your Love on Me,” had the future groom’s buddies performing in flippers and scuba gear as they whisked him away for a bachelor party.

An uncomplicated set comprising two rotating structures effectively evoked a modest taverna, and created various interiors when repositioned. Costumes, too, were simple, in bright solids and Mediterranean monochrome; blessedly, Disco-era fashion reared its ugly, glittering head in only one scene.

Telling a contemporary story through decades-old Swedish pop is no easy feat, but Catherine Johnson’s book handles the challenge admirably. Most songs fit comfortably – even logically – and some treatments verged on comedic brilliance. Rosie’s hilarious “Take a Chance on me” provided one such moment.

“Mamma Mia!” was a hit with the sell-out crowd, who sang along to ABBA’s best during the show. This production doesn’t try to be something it’s not; like ABBA’s music, “Mamma Mia!” succeeds because it’s downright fun.

1 comment:

abby j said...

Now I will have to go download "Take a Chance on Me." Because I have spent the last 24 hours going "chance take a chance take a chick-a-cha-chance" in my head.