Pre-Show Announcement: “We’d like to inform people of a nervous disposition that platform boots and white spandex are featured in this production.”
Skylight Music Theatre’s production of Mamma Mia! opens with a lone Camara Stampley, in the role of Sophie Sheridan, singing her sweet rendition of “I Have a Dream.” She wears blue and in the background is the Taverna, owned by none other than Donna Sheridan, played by the force of talent that is Lisa Estridge.
If you don’t know the story from the 2008 cult classic film, here are the basics from Skylight’s iteration: Sophie is getting married to Sky (played by the delightful Ben Broughton) and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. But Donna, her mother, never told her who her father is. Sophie finds Donna’s diary, and deducts that there are three possible contenders, and she invites them all to the wedding. Rom-com shenanigans ensue on the Greek island of Skopelos.
Also of note: This is a jukebox musical, and all of the songs are ABBA.
Director and choreographer Monica Kapoor made her Skylight debut with this one, which is coincidental because her on-stage Broadway debut also happened to be Mamma Mia!. She kept the cast moving with high-energy choreography and punchy comedic moments. The show is charmingly self-aware of how silly, and at times cringey, the material is but every moment of it is down-right fun.
Here’s a quick roundup of my top five most-entertaining moments of the show, in no particular order:
- “CHIQUITITA”: Donna just ran into her three exes and, naturally, she is overwhelmed. Her best friends, Rosie (Amanda Satchell) and Tanya (Kelly Britt), sing this number to cheer her up. And they are just hilarious! Donna’s “dynamos” are particularly well casted, brimming with personality and quick-witted humor every time they’re on the stage.
- THE FLIPPER KICKLINE: Is there anything more charming than men dressed in wet suits, arm in arm, performing a kickline? This moment in “Don’t Go Wasting Your Emotions” is one of many that proves this show is not just about its stars, but the cast as a whole. Each castmember brings their own brand of silliness to the spirited dance moves, though Pepper (Jordan Radis) and Eddie (Romesh Jayasundara) often steal the show.
- “MAMMA MIA” THE SONG: Estridge is pouring her heart out in the movie’s namesake song, and when the time comes for the background chorus (you know the part where they sing, “Mamma mia, here I go again …” in perfect harmony), ensemble members pop out of the woodwork for a surprising changeup from the solo.
- EVERY TIME SOMEONE CRAWLED (WHICH IS OFTEN): The movie is full of endearingly awkward crawling scenes, and thankfully the live show is, too. A true fan will appreciate it every time.
- THE EIGHT-MINUTE DANCE PARTY: After the bows and all the clapping comes the sing-along. A standing ovation assured that the audience was already on their feet, but songs like “Waterloo” and “Mamma Mia” brought on the dance moves. Even on a Wednesday night, Skylight had audience members grooving in the aisles.
While the show is all about the fun, it also has its fair share of emotional moments. “Our Last Summer” stands out as a particularly tender moment between Donna and potential-dad Harry (played by Ben George). The mother-daughter harmonies in “Slipping Through My Fingers” are spectacular and sweet as well.
But subtle moments aren’t why anyone goes to see Mamma Mia!. No, you’re there for the cheesy drama, spunky songs and sparkly bell bottoms. There’s plenty of that, too.
Still wondering if this show is right for you? Consider this advice: If you loved the movie, enjoy a good sing-along or romanticize the years of platform boots, scrunchies and spandex, this is a must-see. If ABBA is not your fave, hold off until Skylight’s next shows, A Jolly Holiday and Evita.
Mamma Mia! is on stage at the Skylight Music Theatre through Oct. 16. For tickets, showtimes and more information click here.