Thursday, May 31, 2012
Theater review: Mamma Mia! at Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas
An irresistible musical that keeps you singing long after it ends.
You know you've just seen an amazing performance when the audience spends the last three songs of the show on their feet! Mamma Mia! started its run at the Music Hall at Fair Park on Tuesday, May 29; what a great way to end off this Memorial Day. Unlike the upcoming production of Peter Pan, Mamma Mia! has only graced the Dallas Summer Musicals stage four times, including this year. I had the pleasure of seeing Mamma Mia! when it came to Dallas Summer Musicals in 2009. And just because you've seen the movie, don't think that you've had the full experience of this popular musical.
Mamma Mia!, based on the music of ABBA, is a show full of love, laughter, and plenty of fun twists. Did you know that behind The Beatles, ABBA is the biggest selling band in the world? Their ever so popular song, "Dancing Queen", held the number one spot in twelve countries.
The musical follows Sophie on her journey through her wedding. She invites some unexpected guests, three men who could be her potential fathers, and drives her mother Donna up the wall! The audience watches Sophie, Donna and her dads on the beautiful island of Greece and follows them through a crazy two days of wedding festivities.
"Honey Honey" started off the high energy of this production. Sophie, played by Chloe Tucker, reads her mother's journal to her two best girlfriends. The trio bounced around the stage, giddy and full of excitement each and every moment a new detail was revealed. The girls took time during a musical break to run around the stage, using their hands to make fake guns and pretend to shoot each other playfully. Tucker (Sophie) did a wonderful job through the whole musical, showing all the emotions a girl experiences when dealing with getting married. Her strongest believable emotion would probably be her sense of panic. Whether she was learning who her true father was or revealing her big secret to Sky, Chloe stayed true the her role.
The chemistry between Alison Ewing (Tanya) and Mary Callanan (Rosie) exceeded my high expectations. Callanan exaggerated every last moment Rosie experienced as a result of aging and not being able to be the performer she once was. During the first performance of "Dancing Queen," the three ladies took a knee one by one. When Rosie's turn came, she mouthed mouths `Oh F----' to the audience and got stuck right where she started. Ewing really stuck to the "large bust" shenanigans by continually teasing Pepper and holding up tassels during the ladies' big musical number. My favorite moment of hers was when Rosie and Tanya first entered their room. One bed, two ladies. Rosie flipped a coin and won the bed, leaving Tanya on the floor. Rosie picked up the air mattress laid at the end of the bed, turned towards Tanya, and released it to the floor with a loud noise and a giant smile on her face. Tanya then took many approaches to inflating this thing, ending with her stomach down, legs in the air, and repeated breathing into the lifeless plastic. The hilarious moment ended with Rosie telling her to "blow not suck."
"Lay All Your Love on Me" was a very memorable number. Sky and Sophie try to spend some tender moments together and are interrupted by "the guys", dressed in half-zipped purple scuba suits. One of the best pieces of blocked choreography happened as Sophie crawled seductively on top of her man. These scuba men circled around the couple and in one swift motion, collected Sophie in their arms as she temporarily "planks" in the air. They took a few steps to the side and placed her back on the ground as smoothly as they first picked her up. The ad-libbed movements of Sky's "boys" throughout this number, and the entire night, accounted for quite a few of the laughs in the audience, especially those from Sky's good friend Pepper (Ethan Le Phong). Le Phong made quite an exit off stage.
The morning after the bachelor party, Pepper, Sky and another sat around in their boxers, still dwelling from the night's wild festivities. After Donna's reprimand for not being in the right mindset for a wedding, Pepper took his exit. Le Phong pouted off stage, head held low, fights clenched and awkwardly stuck out his butt and marched towards the wings. His time on stage may have been brief but his mannerisms, especially with the seductive Tanya, kept the audience on the lookout for his playful antics.
Kaye Tuckerman deserved a whole review to herself, being the shining member of the cast. Her beaming smile and energy from her first entrance through the curtain call was enough to see how much she truly loved what she does. It was disappointing that she suffered from mic problems multiple times throughout the show, but that did not phase her powerful vocals one bit. I was left with goose bumps on every inch of my body when she sang the climax, "The Winner Takes It All," to Jeff Applegate. I fully believed that Kaye Tuckerman was Donna Sheridan every moment of the production.
The second act began with a loud BANG, literally! When the orchestra struck their first note, a vast majority of the audience shrieked and jumped out of their seats - I know I did at least. The rest of the interlude was followed by patterns of bright lights across the scrim and calmed the crowd. Sophie on a bed surrounded with fog and crazy neon scuba costumes was how the stage is set thanks to Mark Thompson. Sophie had a wedding nightmare that ended with Sky in her wedding dress! She was woken by Donna, dazed and confused that she had been sleep walking in the first place.
Let's discuss the highly climatic wedding scene. Orange and hot pink were the colors of choice for the cast on stage. With all of the chairs acting as pews facing towards the audience, we could witness every tear shed and cast member's secret, especially when Paul Deboy (Harry) announced how happy he and "Nigel" were. Sophie eventually called off her wedding and pink rose pedals fell from the sky as Donna and Sam exchanged their surprising wedding vows. The crazy scene closed with Rosie tossing her camera to the conductor in the orchestra pit for a giant group picture.
Sophie sang the sweet tune "I Have a Dream" hand-in-hand with Happy Mahaney (Sky), reflecting back to the opening number of this fabulous production. The audience is left with a warm heart while Sophie's dads send her off to travel the world with Sky. John-Michael Zuerlin (Bill) gave the "I'm watching you" motion to Sky as he winked at Donna and made his final exit. The couple walked hand in hand in their tacky yet adorable matching khaki attire towards the giant moon filling the starry night sky.
The comedic timing of the entire cast left the audience laughing throughout the production. Despite the adult nature of the humor, that didn't stop the young girl sitting near me from squealing with joyous laughter every moment Pepper would ogle Tanya or a bum, male or female, was grabbed.
Mamma Mia's ending was the best ending to any production I've been to by far. The cast did their first round of normal bows and then Donna and the Dynamos emerged in bright neon jump suits to perform their ever famous rendition of the crowd favorite, "Dancing Queen." Just when you thought the show was over, Sophie's dads appeared on stage in equally colored jumpsuits. Tuckerman shouted out "What's up Dallas?" and led the cast in an unexpected rendition of the famous ABBA song, "Waterloo." The skittle-colored jumpsuits led the rest of the cast to their final round of bows and the curtain closes as Tuckerman and Applegate still danced around and enjoyed their final moments on the stage.
If the ending of this show doesn't leave you singing, dancing and wanting more, then you need to send out an "S.O.S." Unlike last time, Mamma Mia! is only in town for six days. So if you plan on going, better get those tickets soon! Catch Mamma Mia! in Dallas before it heads to Memphis, Tennessee. "Thank You for the Music" and "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" some tickets to see Mamma Mia!
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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