"You already know you’re gonna love it!"
That’s what MAMMA MIA‘s print ads proclaim. And it must be true since after just 2 years the North American Tour of what’s been described as ‘the world’s most popular show’ is making a return trip to Starlight this week.
"When we conducted our annual audience survey at the end of the 2009 season, we asked our patrons what musical they’d like to see at Starlight in the future," says Denton Yockey, the theatre’s president and executive producer.
"It amazed us how many patrons actually wrote in very passionate votes for MAMMA MIA—even though they had just seen it. So, when the opportunity presented itself for Starlight to book the tour again for 2011, I jumped at the chance to bring it back as a sixth-show option for our season."
Even more amazing is that this week’s performances of the Abba-music based romantic comedy marks the 5th time that MAMMA MIA has played Kansas City in just 8 years! Three times at the Music Hall and twice at Starlight Theatre.
Practically everyone knows the show’s storyline from either past performances or the popular movie version which starred Meryl Streep: Single mother Donna Sheridan owns small hotel on idyllic Greek island and is about to celebrate her spirited daughter Sophie’s wedding…who she raised alone.
For the occasion she’s invited her two best girlfriends who many moons ago backed her band ‘Donna and the Dynamos.’
Ahhh! But unbeknownst to Donna, daughter Sophie’s secretly invited mom’s three former lovers to the wedding—each of whom could be her potential dad!
It’s all cleverly strung together with 23 of Abba’s greatest hits—not to mention the play’s rousing overture.
Best of all it works!
The show is as popular in Russia, Korea, Asia and throughout central Europe as it is here in the U.S. where it’s been a nightly sellout on Broadway since 2001 and played for nearly 6 years in Las Vegas.
While it’s not quite up the original ‘2nd Company’s’ version that first stopped here in 2003, it comes close enough. Matter of fact it outperforms a couple of the past productions of MAMMA MIA in Kansas City. Some of the staging in the current production has a somewhat downsized feel to it. Like Sophie and Sky’s walk towards the rising moon in the final scene (to the song of ‘I Had A Dream’) is now played without the moon. Too bad about that.
Standout performances are by Kaye Tuckerman in the role of Donna Sheridan who brings the house down with her powerful rendition of ‘The Winner Takes It All.’ And Cloe Tucker is very much in tune as young Sophie.
But it’s Mary Callanan’s glowing portrayal of Rosie that almost steals the show.
A tip of this reviewer’s hat to the entire national company including players, production staff—and especially the 6 piece band for making the score sound as full and awesome as it does.
If there’s one criticism I’ve got of Tuesday’s opening night performance, it’s in the uneven sound mix. Far too often a key performer’s mic level was either too low or too hot compared to that of others in the scene. Or the background chorus volume and/or the orchestra would occasionally overpower the sound of stage performers.
Likely the sound-mix will be better balanced for the remainder of the show which plays through Sunday at Starlight.
As some of you may have heard I became a fan of the play even before it first opened on Broadway and have enjoyed productions of MAMMA MIA in such cities as Las Vegas, St. Louis, Chicago, London, Kansas City and Berlin. Some have been better than others. All have been good.
This week’s production playing through Sunday in K.C. definitely ranks right up there with the better ones and I recommend it to you for a fun night out at Starlight Theatre!