Friday, June 11, 2010

At the Theatre: Mamma Mia (3.5/5)

I bought tickets for my mother and I to see Mamma Mia as a mother's day present for her. She had seen the show with the original Toronto cast (some of whom went on to become part of the original Broadway cast) and the movie and was a big fan. I was raised on ABBA and the Beatles, so all the songs were familiar to me.

Off the top, Liana Hunt was a big disappointment as Sophie. She opened the show very weakly and for a while, I kept thinking 'what is all the fuss about?' And then Tanya and Rosie showed up and I said 'Aaaaaah'. Rachel Tyler (Tanya) and Kittra Wynn Coomer (Rosie) were definitely the highlight of the show for me. They had the best voices and such wonderful comedic instincts.

Another disappointment was Michelle Dawson as Donna. Sometimes she was great ('Mamma Mia' and 'The Winner Takes it All' stand out particularly) but sometimes she was so weak. I'm not sure if the numbers weren't in her range or if she was fighting a cold or losing her voice. It was a very uneven performance.

The dance routines were great fun as were the three (three!) encores. 'Waterloo' is my favourite ABBA song of all time, so I was pleased to see it done.

I found it interesting that the show is billed as a 'family' show, however. There were lots of kids in the audience and there was lots of sexual and drug humour on stage. I wonder how parents react when they actually see the show. It's interesting to consider.

I think Mamma Mia would be a great show with a stronger lead cast and my mother said she loved it when she saw it originally. With the high energy music and dancing, it's hard not to clap along and bop your head.

Mamma Mia remains in Toronto at the Princess of Wales theatre until June 20. The next stop on the tour is Vienna, VA.

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