The pop musical “Mamma Mia,” based off of the hits of ’70s Swedish pop group ABBA, is traveling the United States for one last time.
And the farewell tour is making a stop in Minneapolis.
Using ABBA’s hits as its soundtrack, playwright Catherine Johnson tells the story of a young Greek girl who is getting married and wants to invite her father. The only problem is, it is one of three men. She invites all three, none of whom her mother has seen since before her birth, to her wedding. The day before she is to be married, it is revealed her mother is still in love with one of the three men.
For those unfamiliar with ABBA, the show may seem a bit scattered.
While there is a story line, it truly is at its core a tribute to the band. The set is sparse and the plot is driven by the songs. In fact, some scenes seem just to have been written so a certain hit could be featured (“Super Trouper,” or “Dancing Queen.”).
But this doesn’t make the show any less fun.
The costumes are bright, the choreography is campy and the cast seems to delight in the nostalgia audiences feel towards the music.
Betsy Padamonsky plays a demur Donna. Despite stress from wedding planning and random ex-boyfriends showing up again, Padamonsky plays Donna collected, proud and strong.
Her range and tone fit the songs beautifully, and while she is able to belt she doesn’t do it often even when some numbers could use it.
Cashelle Butler played a salacious Tanya. She and Sarah Smith (Rosie) got many laughs as Donna’s sidekicks.
However, it was Smith who stole the show with her eagerness in both “Dancing Queen” and “Take A Chance On Me.”
Butler, Padamonsky and Smith had a wonderful chemistry. This is particularly seen during “Chiquitita.” Their characters’ ability to laugh at, support and push one another embodied what is so special about long-lasting friendships. The three seemed as though they have that with one another off-stage as well.
Andrew Tebo (Harry Bright), Marc Cornes (Bill Auston) and Shai Yammanee (Sam Carmichael) were strong co-stars to the leading ladies. Yammanee was, perhaps, the best singer in the show.
Of course, as anyone who has seen “Mamma Mia” knows, the best part is the ending. I won’t give anything away but as tempting as it can be to rush off to be the first out of the parking garage, stay through the curtain call.
Promise, you’ll love it for ever more.