Dallas — Watching Mamma Mia! is a bit like eating raw cookie dough. It’s overly sweet, a little naughty and a bit fake. So if you want to enjoy it, best not think too hard about it.
Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall at Fair Park, Mamma Mia! is a hit around the world. The show opened on Broadway in 2001 and is still running. It’s currently one of the five highest grossing musicals in Broadway history. And let’s not even talk about the movie version (still trying to erase the memory of Pierce Brosnan singing). So clearly it’s got something going for it.
Based on the music of ABBA, this production boasts an appealing cast, some first-rate voices, a smattering of funny bits and enough youthful energy to power you through the evening.
The slender book, by Catherine Johnson, strings together the songs into a romantic fantasy about love lost and regained. There’s also an impending marriage and a young girls searching for her father, and it’s all set on an idyllic Greek island.
The two leads are an embittered single Mom and her love struck daughter Sophie (Chelsea Williams), the bride to be. Sophie has never known who her father is and has invited the three possible contenders to her wedding, much to her Mom’s chagrin. As the optimistic ingénue, Williams is appealing, with a strong pop voice and she inhabits the slenderly written role with conviction.
Mom Donna is usually played by Georgia Kate Haege. Presently Haege is out of the show due to surgery and she may not return for the rest of the Dallas run. Fortunately for the audience, her understudy Rebecca Mason-Wygal is terrific and as the company has been together for several months, she is able to integrate seamlessly into the ensemble.
The comic relief is provided Donna’s sidekicks Rosie and Tanya. Best friends and bandmates from Donna’s younger days, the two respectively represent the archetypal intrepid loner and the much-married woman of the world. As Rosie, Carly Sakalove is bawdy and funny and Gabrielle Mirabella brings a wry touch of regret to Tanya that makes the character feel more three dimensional. Both women are very entertaining and make the most of the bits they’re given.
The three potential Dads don’t have a lot to do, but they capitalize on their individual songs and are easy to listen to. There are a few big production numbers, including one that features glow in the dark scuba suits which is pretty darn clever and fun to watch. The young and talented ensemble provides some laughs and a lot of good humor and keep the show moving along. It would be nice if they were given more compelling work to do.
If you’re a fan of ABBA—not to mention light-hearted, upbeat musicals—and you don’t plan to overanalyze things like the shoe-horning of the songs into the story, Mamma Mia! should go down pretty easily.