A Review

Here I Go Again

By R. J. Donovan

Based on the music of ABBA, "Mamma Mia" has carved out a niche for itself as a feel-good musical experience.  Does it help if you know ABBA's original music?  Sure.  Does it take anything away if you don't know all the songs up front?  Not really. 

Although tagged as the ABBA musical, be aware that the show has absolutely nothing to do with the story of ABBA itself.

For those few among the uninitiated, "Mamma Mia" takes the ABBA songbook and uses it to flesh out the story of Sophie, a girl who's getting married in Greece and uncertain of who her father is.  Raised by Donna, a single-parent Mom, the bride-to-be has a couple of blurry clues as to which of three gentlemen might be the one.  So to make sure Dad is in the house at her nuptials, she secretly invites all three to the wedding.  The guys, in turn, think the anonymous invite came from Mom, eager to renew old sparks.

Adding to the plot, two of Mom's old gal-pals show up for the party.  And wouldn't you know it, all three once performed together as Donna And The Dynamos.  Which opens the door for a musical reunion of sorts, complete with shimmering disco jump suits.

The result is a light-hearted show that leans heavily (and loudly) on the music to make its point.  Clearly, this is a show were every song is a hit -- otherwise, they wouldn't be there in the first place.

From the title number to "Super Trouper," "Take A Chance," the high-energy "Voulez-Vous" and "Dancing Queen," the crowd delights at each and every stop, occasionally singing along -- usually a no-no in the theater.  (In truth, how many of you would actually want to endure the woman sitting behind you attempting to join in while Fantine sings "I Dreamed A Dream" in "Les Miz"?)

Everyone in the cast gets their moment in the spotlight.  Mom (Mary Jayne Raleigh) blasts the house with "The Winner Takes It All" while daughter (Whitney Claire Kaufman) sings the angelic "I Have A Dream." Of the three guys, Sean Allan Krill fares best with  "Knowing Me, Knowing You."  And Christine Sherrill tears the place up as a cougar of sorts with "Does Your Mother Know."

A happy ending is assured, of course, followed by the company doing a mini-concert wrap-up to remind you of the hits you just heard moments before.  At this point, the audience is up on its feet, barely able to control its unbridled loyalty.

For some historical perspective, "Mamma Mia" premiered in London in 1999 before jumping the pond and landing in Toronto in 2000.  The Broadway production opened a year later and is still going strong.  A film version, starring Meryl Streep as the Mom, is now in post-production with a release date set for next summer.

"Mamma Mia" doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is -- a frothy, celebratory medley of ABBA hits, pinned on a storybook framework to the delight of its super trooper fans.

"Mamma Mia "is at The Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street, through December 16. For information, call 617-931-2787.

-- OnStage Boston

Production Photo: Joan Marcus


To receive an email Update when new pages are posted at OnStage Boston, click here.


© 2002-2004 RJD Associates. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this site may be reprinted or reproduced without prior written permission.