Act V Theatre Co.’s production of the musical “Mamma Mia!” strayed from the movie’s setlist and minor characters, but provided Memorial Auditorium with the sounds of ABBA’s music.
The musical showed twice on April 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. and twice more on April 13 at 2 and 8 p.m.
The movie was created based off the 1999 musical that went to Broadway. The musical offers a slightly different set list compared to the movie, but overall still takes viewers through Sophie and Donna Sheridan’s rollercoaster of a journey.
The cast and crew of “Mamma Mia!” overcame last-minute changes in personnel to successfully put on the show. This included changes in who directed the show and the absence of a live pit orchestra, which was replaced by pre-recorded tracks.
Maggie Haynes took on the role of Sophie, who is determined to find out who her father is before her wedding — since her mother hid it from her. Haynes perfectly captured Sophie’s personality, as well as and her inner struggle to find herself and where she comes from the entire musical.
Haynes delivered a powerful rendition of “I Have a Dream” at the beginning of the musical, setting the scene for the rest of her performance. She accurately hit the higher notes, especially in songs like “Honey, Honey.” Haynes was clearly passionate about her role, and it showed in her movements and facial expressions while singing.
Hannah Famulare captured the role of Donna, Sophie’s mother, precisely. Donna is frustrated with her life when Sophie’s three possible fathers show up to her island. Famulare channeled the character by showing Donna’s conflicted emotions in her rendition of “S.O.S.” Famulare also demonstrated Donna’s nostalgia of Sophie’s youth in “Slipping Through My Fingers.”
The director cast the characters well in this production, especially Donna’s friends Tanya and Rosie, played by Francesca Yaukey and Anna Stanmets. Their recreation of the band of their younger days, Donna and the Dynamos, was hilarious and entertaining as they were able to bring the girl-power group alive.
Nick McKim, Tyler Rock and Noah Steinfeldt were cast as Sophie’s three potential fathers: Sam, Bill and Harry, respectively. McKim portrayed Sam’s personality of being business-like but charming, and Rock captured Bill’s ruggedness and wit. Steinfeldt’s performance was unexpected — Harry’s character in the movie appeared more timid than compared to this rendition, however it was still a great performance.
More minor characters such as Eddie and Pepper, played by Travis Houtz and Tom Fizzano, had more speaking parts in the musical compared to the movie, but were a great addition. Pepper and Tanya’s chemistry was humorous, especially in “Does Your Mother Know.”
Among the men in the musical, Sky, played by Chris Atkins, was also a great fit for the role. He embodied the “surfer dude” that Sky is, however, his singing parts were more spoken than in the movie.
Aside from the casting, the scenery was true to the Greek island of Kalokairi. From the hotel to the tables with patterned table clothes, one got the feeling of being transported to Greece.
The songs that were the highlight of the performance were “Lay All Your Love On Me,” which featured the men of the musical dancing around in Hawaiian shirts and flip flops, “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” and “Super Trouper.”
However, “Mamma Mia,” the song the musical is named after, did not sound as upbeat as it does in other renditions. It felt robotic and not as pop-infused and cheery. It did sound more like ABBA’s version of the song, which is more subdued and not as theatrical as the movie. The choreography and blocking could have been adjusted to provide more energy in the number. The characters and ensemble stayed mainly in one position for the song, and it felt like there could have been more done with the number. In the movie, the song is energetic and the peak of the plot, and in the musical it did not come off as strong.
Overall, “Mamma Mia!” was enjoyable but had a few minor flaws and differences that might be disappointing for viewers who are more familiar with the movies.
A&E Editor Jonathan Bergmueller contributed factual information to this review.