*NOTE: This review was republished on May 15, 2017 due to a failure with the Triangle Arts & Entertainment website.
Since its premiere in 1999, Mamma Mia, a musical inspired by the music of ABBA, has been a fan favorite, and during its farewell tour at DPAC, under the direction of Phyllida Lloyd, it’s obvious that the show hasn’t lost any of its sparkle and appeal.
For those not familiar with this fun story, it follows cute, young Sophie Sheridan (Lizzie Markson), who is about to get married to her fiance Sky (Dustin Harris Smith). However, she wants her father, whom she has never met, to be in attendance at her wedding. There’s one catch, though. After secretly reading her mother’s old diaries, Sophie uncovers three possibilities for her father and invites them all. When they all show up for the big day, calamity (and a lot of fun) instantly ensues.
The story takes place in a charming setting- a small Greek island called Kalokairi, and, really, the setting is a big part of the appeal. The island gives the show a rustic, charming feel, which works well with its (now) dated age. And, of course, the music is phenomenal throughout, especially for fans of ABBA. The musical numbers roll out smoothly, one after the other, coupled with great choreography by Anthony Van Laast.
And, as if all that wasn’t enough, the cast is great as well. Markson is indomitable with her spunky portrayal of Sophie while Betsy Pamonsky makes for a very likeable Donna (Sophie’s mother). Stealing the show, however, are Donna’s feisty best pals, Tanya (Cashelle Butler) and Rosie (Sarah Smith).Together, their sexual energy and their comedic timing add a lot of laughs to the show, giving it some of its best moments.
While things don’t wrap up in this musical exactly as one might expect, that too is part of the appeal of this original and thoroughly entertaining show. Mamma Mia, at its heart, is just a fun, good-time musical that should be watched anytime one is craving an escapist good time…with a bit of musical nostalgia thrown in.