April 2, 2023

By Hoo Sook Hwang
AAP theater writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (July 20, 2018) — If you need a break from the humidity and a blast from the past, “Mamma Mia’s Broadway Musical,” offers large doses of incredible talent and hilarity through Aug. 5 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

It’s a night filled with nostalgic ABBA favorites such as, “Dancing Queen, The Name of the Game and The Winner Takes it All.” An all-star cast, along with, Caroline Innerbichler (soon to be married daughter, Sophie Sheridan) and Christine Sherrill’s (skeptical mother, Donna Sheridan) join in commemorating ABBA’s 1970’s favorites with distinctive vocal ranges and natural abilities that bring exquisite emotion to each number. The combination of ABBA’s hit songs and creatively choreographed dance numbers made, “Mamma Mia,” the best, feel good show of the summer in the Twin Cities. 

“Mamma Mia” is definitely one of those shows you can see again and again. The incredible director Martha Banta, and musical director Raymond Berg, join together to create a very special evening. Mamma Mia, originally conceived by Judy Cramer, is a bright ray of sunshine, along with a cool breeze of talent.

Choreographer Mitch Sebastian, along with Lisa Bartholomew-Given, assistant choreographer, debuted highly complex and synchronized dance numbers, that were both energetic and fun loving. The Flipper Ballet was my favorite dance number from this production! Full of testosterone and likely a shot of, Red Bull, dancers displayed unprecedented energy, ability and fortitude.  Performed along side, “Lay All Your Love On Me,” the number drew laughter and admiration. The audience’s overwhelming applause after each performance throughout recognized the remarkable talent on stage, as well as the highly skilled choreography off stage with a standing ovation.

Donna’s best friends from her past, Tanya (played by Ann Michels) and Rosie (played by Erin Schwab) inject humor, zest and comedy to moments of tension that make Mamma Mia delightful and heartfelt. Sophie’s insatiable need to uncover the truth about her biological father is the overarching theme to a somewhat corny ending. Despite the serious tenor to the plot, comic relief, charm and outlandish silliness on stage unveils a surprise and happy ending that is more like a fairy tale. The musical is filled with fairy tale, fun and fantastical story lines.

I must confess that I was unfamiliar with, ABBA’s popular play list that’s received unprecedented royalties around the world. As a first time listener, I found the music, combined with exceptional dance performances to be quite amazing and contagious. Very few ticket holders were able to remain physically still for long. And, at the end of the show the high-powered cast, generously offered up three feel good encores to ABBA fans. Ticket holders joyfully sang and danced along. While I’m not sure the story line offered any deep thoughts, the depth of talent overwhelmingly makes up for the happily ever after content.

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