'Mamma Mia!' Takes It All at Wharton Center
The tag line for the smash Broadway musical Mamma Mia! is "you already know you're going to love it." In the tradition of turning musical artists' catalogs into musicals, Mamma Mia! packs in the hits from beloved Swedish group ABBA, and the audience's familiarity with the catchy tunes is part of what makes the show so enjoyable - and such an enduring success.
The national tour makes a stop in East Lansing for a weekend engagement at the Wharton Center November 15-17th, 2013, and the show is pure spandex-filled joy.
Mamma Mia! tells the story of Sophie, a 20-year-old girl living and working on a Greek island at the taverna her mother Donna owns. As Sophie prepares to get married, she yearns to find out who her father is so that he can walk her down the aisle. When she discovers her mother's diary and learns that there are three possible fathers, she invites them to the island and hopes to learn about her past as she prepares for her future.
The book of the show and the songs of ABBA perfectly intertwine. Although some lyrics are changed to fit the story, the playful music fits the airy, fantasy island setting and its cast of characters.
Georgia Kate Haege shines as the strong-willed Donna who is thrown into revisiting her former flames during her already stressful time as a mother of the bride. Chelsea Williams as her daughter Sophie is bright-eyed and optimistic, with a sweet voice well-suited to her solos like "The Name of the Game" and "I Have a Dream."
Carly Sakolove and Gabrielle Mirabella as Donna's friends and former back-up singers Rosie and Tanya bring a slapstick punch to the show; the duo brings the most laughs.
Although the heart of the show is the tender moments between mother and daughter, particularly in the second act, the beat comes from the hits the audience already loves -- and some that become new favorites. From "Dancing Queen" to "Super Trouper" and title song "Mamma Mia," it's tough to sit still during the music numbers.
Which is why, in a classic 'be-sure-to-stay-through-the-credits' move, it's important to stay through the curtain call. The cast treats to the audience to a reprise of "Mamma Mia," "Dancing Queen," and the ABBA hit "Waterloo," which isn't sung during the show. The encore gives the audience the opportunity to get out of their chairs to dance and sing along.
And because the lyrics of ABBA can often express a feeling better than most could, a line from "Thank You for the Music" says exactly what the show makes the audience feel: "I've often wondered how did it all start? Who found out that nothing can capture a heart like a melody can? Well, whoever it was, I'm a fan."
Mamma Mia! continues to capture the hearts of many, and it's no wonder we're still fans after all of these years.
Mamma Mia! is at the Wharton Center through November 17th, 2013. Click here for show details and ticket information.