Mamma Mia! is one of the most successful touring musicals, grossing over $2 million in box office royalties. Last night was one of the last performances on the Richmond stop of the Boadway hit jukebox musical’s national farewell tour, after 18 years of shows.
The plot of this comedy follows a young bride-to-be, Sophie (Lizzie Markson), who wants her father to see her get married. The trouble is, her father is one of three men her mother, Donna (Betsy Padamonsky), slept with 21 years ago, and nobody knows who the real father is. Sophie invites all three of them to the wedding under her mother’s name, hoping to find out which one her father is when they arrive. This story line is based on 22 songs from the pop group ABBA delivering all their hits from “Dancing Queen,” to “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All.”
The show was very well done, with outstanding choreography. The performers’ movements flowed well, with over the top physical comedy that conveyed a narrative of excited youths ready to begin their lives, as well as adults that are much more varied in their outlook on the world, and not always as optimistic. What stood out for me the most was the lighting, which was almost as much of a character as the actual performers. During the scene at the bachelorette party, the myriad of colors rapidly changed the scene, adding to its aesthetic.
The only real complaint that I have about this musical is that some of the actors could have articulated better. Harry (played by Andrew Tebo) could have had a better English dialect that was easier to hear. Harry Bright is an English banker, but his dialogue was sometimes difficult to hear over an American attempting an English dialect.
I think that Sarah Smith (who had the role of Rosie) was one of my favorite performers in this show. Her duet with Harry of “Take a Chance on Me” at the end showed just how far the characters had come since they first stepped on the stage. Cashelle Butler (who played the role of Tanya) would have to be my second favorite for how well she embodied the character’s carefree attitude about relationships, life and age in general.
If you missed out on Mamma Mia! here, you still have a chance to see it if you are willing to make the trek to St. Louis.
Top image credit: MAMMA MIA! Farewell Tour 2016 by Kevin Thomas Garcia.