The storyline for this beloved musical seemed a little over the heads of the 12 and under crowd that amounted to nearly half the audience for the hit show “Mamma Mia!” presented by Charm City Players in Baltimore.
However, the electricity generated on stage permeated throughout the auditorium and the show was a delight beyond my expectations. “Mamma Mia!” brought all the disco frosting and glitter that made this such a lauded production –first across the pond and then in America.
This show was truly a fuzzy, warm-feeling kind of show and I recommend taking the kids before it ends March 24.
If you are unfamiliar with this musical, the premise is quite creative. Writer Catherine Johnson connects songs from the 1970s pop sensation from Sweden, ABBA, into the story of a young woman living on an island resort searching for her biological father. Sophie Sheridan (played by Haley Wells) invites three of her mother’s former lovers to her wedding hoping she would discover which of the three is her father. Certainly a bold plot, but it neatly knits ABBA songs into the dynamics and a checkered story of Sophie and her mother, Donna (played by Rebecca Garrahy). This aggravates old heartbreaks and tensions build leading up to Sophie’s “big day.”
As someone who grew up in the ’70s, I simply could not resist feeling a flood of emotions during the musical numbers, so I wondered if the parents and grandparents in the audience were welling up, too. The flashy costumes, the crazy bell bottoms and high heel boots, and the large choreographed ensemble choked me up –mostly because of the memories attached to the songs. Though I admit, the wedding scene did a real number on me because my preteen daughter was sitting next to me and the thought of that moment for her in the future was too much for me to handle. That aside, the show was far more charming than I anticipated.
I was impressed with several facets of this production. First, the actors were very entertaining. Haley Wells as Sophie and Rebecca Garrahy as Donna were very convincing as mother and daughter. Patricia Anderson as Tanya was sizzling –I really liked her number with Pepper (Alex Velasco), the sultry “Does Your Mother Know.” Alana Simone as Rosie was amusing in a playful way with her rendition of “Take a Chance On Me” with Bill (Nick Richardson). Dean Allen Davis as Sam Carmichael had some great numbers as well, especially “S.O.S,” which he sang with Rebecca Garrahy, and his solo number “Knowing Me, Knowing You.”
I give a lot of credit to the costumiers Tara Hebert, Patricia Anderson (who also played Tanya) and Emmie Grant for the lovely attire –as everyone looked quite comfortable in their beach shorts, as well as the disco getups. The ostentatious and loud habiliments for “Dancing Queen” was exceptionally eye-catching.
Director Stephen Napp put together a wonderful show that was mostly family-friendly and totally fun to watch. The music level was a bit low and a little muddy, but the energy and excitement of the production were too lovely to resist. Scenic artists Annmarie Pallanck and the director himself put together an attractive resort façade and practical stage set up. Overall, the aesthetics of this production deserves a bit of praise –from the venue (the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Auditorium at Mercy High School) down to the final musical number, “Waterloo.” This show was truly a fuzzy, warm-feeling kind of show and I recommend taking the kids before it ends March 24.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.
For more information about Charm City Players and to purchase tickets, visit their website by clicking here.