Mamma Mia translated into English from Italian is, my goodness or my heavens, and that about sums up this high energy hit at Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s through September 9, 2018. “Mamma Mia!” is the hit musical based on the songs of the successful pop group, ABBA, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and directed and choreographed by Mark Minnick.
Set on a small Greek island, a mother, Donna Sheridan (Heather Marie Beck) and daughter are getting ready for a wedding. The daughter, Sophie Sheridan (played by Maggie Dransfield), is determined to find out which of the three men her mother was involved with 21 years ago is her father – so she invites all three to her island wedding without her mother’s knowledge.
Toby’s brings Broadway to Columbia with this production of “Mamma Mia” and we are lucky to have these “Dancing Queens” in our own backyard!
When the family and friends converge on the island, a bit of mystery (who is the real dad?) and a lot of celebrating begins. The hits of ABBA weave a story for the audience that is heartfelt, moving and exciting. Beginning with “I Have A Dream,” sung beautifully by Dransfield, about her dream of meeting her father.
Heather Marie Beck as Donna Sheridan really shines during the entire company number, “Mamma Mia.” Beck’s strong acting skills are noticed as soon as she walks on the stage. Commanding but charming, with Beck’s Donna it is easy to see why three men fell for her.
My favorite dance number is “Lay All Your Love On Me,” sung by Sophie, (Dransfield) and her fiancé, Sky (Paul Roeckell) and the male ensemble (Brandon Bedore, Justin Calhoun, Joey Ellinghaus, David James, Shiloh Orr, and Andrew Prowant) it is cute and sassy. The choreography (Minnick) makes the best use of flippers!
One of my favorite songs is, “Does Your Mother Know” and Tanya (Coby Kay Callahan), Pepper (Joey Ellinghaus) and the ensemble make this number shine. Callahan, who was also our friendly waitress, is a flirtatious dynamo and steals the scene.
Rosie (Tess Rohan) and Bill (Russell Sunday) are charming and carefree during the number “Take a Chance On Me,” where she enthusiastically expresses to Bill she that is very much interested in getting to know him better. Darren McDonnell is well cast as the reserved yet caring Harry, and during Act II, McDonnell and Beck treat the audience to an affectionate version of “Our Last Summer.” Jeffrey Shankle is delightful and sweet as Sam Carmichael, one of Sophie’s potential fathers. Sam’s song to Sophie, “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is very tender.
A big part of this musical is the band, with music directions and orchestrations by Ross Scott Rawlings. All of these musicians do an excellent job recreating the instrumentals of the valued ABBA tunes. The ensemble is high-energy and fun to watch. Jamie Paswquinelli as Ali and part of the ensemble deserves an extra shout out for her dance moves and enthusiasm!
Mark Minnick has no problems with Toby’s theatre in the round. The constant movement and the attention to placement, I never felt like I was missing any of the action. The iconic sparkly, satiny bell-bottomed jumpsuits make a glorious appearance thanks to AT Jones & Sons INC.
Toby’s brings Broadway to Columbia with this production of “Mamma Mia” and we are lucky to have these “Dancing Queens” in our own backyard! Get your tickets today as “Mamma Mia” is selling out fast!
Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.
“Mamma Mia!” runs through September 9, 2018, at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, MD. Reservations are required at (301) 596-6161, (410) 730-8311 or 800-88TOBYS, or click here purchase them through Ticketmaster.