Mamma Mia!: An energetic, fun, ABBA-fueled show

KD Suarez
The global smash musical Mamma Mia! does live up to the hype as an energetic, fun show

MAMMA MIA! Promises to be an energetic, fun show.

MANILA, Philippines – Mamma Mia!, the global hit musical that has been making audiences sing and dance along around the world, is finally here, and yes, it lives up to the hype as an irresistible, fun show.

The hit musical was written by Catherine Johnson, and uses the songs of the Swedish supergroup ABBA. The tunes were composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Seen by more than 50 million people globally since it premiered on London’s West End on March 23, 1999, it has been said that every day, at least 7 performances of Mamma Mia! are being shown worldwide.

Anyone who has watched the movie (which came to the Philippines before the musical) would know the plot: it revolves around the wedding of 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan, whose mother Donna runs a taverna on the sunny Greek island of Calicos.

Sophie’s main dilemma for her wedding wasn’t the reception or the dress, but the identity of her father, who is supposed to give her away at the altar. She looks for answers in Donna’s old diary, and she finds not one, but 3 potential fathers. She invites all 3 to her wedding, and on the eve of her Big Day, mayhem ensues.

It’s an entertaining mix of song and dance, telling the story of a bride searching for her identity while preparing for marriage, while her mother confronts her past and tries to reconnect to a love once lost. This, as both mother and daughter try to understand each other’s quirks.

Fun vibe

Donna and her best friends, Tanya and Rosie, are the heart of the show. The 3 characters are the most enjoyable to watch onstage, and it isn’t just because they happen to sing the hits, such as “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen.” You feel the joy emanating from the trio once they take to the stage, and you’ll find yourself laughing and singing along with them in no time.

Sophie, meanwhile, is the emotional center of the story — she is, after all, trying to find an answer to a big question about her past, as she prepares to take a big step to the future. Meanwhile, the men, led by the 3 potential fathers (Sam, Harry, and Bill) and the groom (Sky), still bring in the laughs, although a bit subdued.

The stage also helps add to the fun, easygoing vibe of the show, mainly because the set and props are kept to a minimum. Meanwhile, the lighting helps exude the feel of the azure seas the Greek islands are known for.

And of course, the songs. ABBA’s hit songs, one of the selling points of the show, are seamlessly woven into the story. As producer Judy Craymer says in the souvenir program, “It’s not a tribute show or a story about ABBA, but an original musical.” The songs are carefully woven into the story, setting the mood for each scene, and helping the characters express their thoughts and emotions.

ABBA fans need not worry, though, because most of their hits are in the musical. From “Waterloo,” “S.O.S.,” and “Take A Chance On Me,” to “Chiquitita,” “Dancing Queen,” and, of course, “Mamma Mia,” the show is also a treat for old ABBA die-hards and converts alike.

One might ask, how does it compare to the film? Let’s rephrase that: how does the Meryl Streep starrer compare to the musical? Remember, the show came before the film, and even if they have the same plot and the same songs, the musical and the movie are different.

Mamma Mia! is an energetic, happy show — it’s something you’d want to watch to unwind and have some positively good time. You can say the show’s plot is simple, but the creators have transformed the story into a great show that will leave you humming and swinging your hips as you leave the theater. – Rappler.com

Mamma Mia! is currently playing at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater), every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The last playdate will be on Feb 19, 2012. Performance runs for 2 hours and 35 minutes. For showtimes and ticket prices, go to www.mamma-mia.com.


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