Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Also see Rebecca's review of The Prince and the Pauper
Young Sophie Sheridan (Laura Giknis is adorably energetic) is getting married tomorrow, but she has more on her mind than most brides. In an attempt to determine the identity of her father, Sophie has raided her mom's old diary and invited three potential dads (Jonas Cohen is sweetly endearing, Christopher Sutton is hilarious, and Eric Kunze is dreamy) to the wedding. Single mom Donna (a formidable Anne Brummel) is trying to run her hotel and get ready for the wedding when the trio appears, bringing back memories of younger days and a fresh dose of heartache.
The high energy first act shimmies, bops and grooves exactly as it should. Yes, the acting is inconsistent (Schyler Conaway's performance as fiance Sky is particularly strained) and the skilled dance ensemble is never quite in sync, but none of that matters much when you are singing along to ABBA's greatest hits and swaying in the aisles. Gail Baldoni's dazzling array of costume designs are brilliant and Jack Mehler's lighting makes the whole theater feel like a party. Donna's sidekicks Rosie (Charis Leos) and Tanya (Lyn Philistine) bring some serious sass and lots of laughs to the stage. Leos' "Take a Chance on Me" and Philistine's "Does Your Mother Know" are fabulous numbers in an otherwise slow second act. A long string of songs, in which the chorus sings only from offstage and the tone waxes too serious, is primarily to blame for the lag. Things pick up again near the close and the night ends on a high note with a buoyant dance and sing-along medley featuring the entire ensemble. It is a finale good enough to make even the most jaded theatergoer stand up and dance.
Mamma Mia!, through July 22, 2018, at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787 or visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org or Ticketmaster.