Review submitted by Eamon Raftery-Sweeney of South Lakes High School.
A Greek wedding. Three dads. Swedish pop group ABBA. If you mix all three of these and sprinkle in a bit of charm, you get “Mamma Mia!,” performed playfully last night by the students from Connelly School of the Holy Child.
Sophie (Elizabeth Rothenberger) is about to get married to Sky (Jessie Wray) on a beautiful Greek island, but she’s run into a problem. She wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but she never learned who he is. After reading her mother Donna’s (Maeve McCaffrey) diary, she realizes that in the summer before she was born, Donna had three separate flings with three different men, Sam, Bill, and Harry (Matthew Kopp, Charles Joseph “CJ” O’Shea, and Jake Davidson). One of these men has to be her father. She decides to invite all three of them to her wedding, and sort it out when they arrive. A weekend of flirtation, confusion, and partying ensues, and by the end, both Sophie and Donna realize the mistakes they’ve made, and agree to move on with their lives, content with the unknown status of Sophie’s father.
Throughout the show, McCaffrey and Rothenberger showed off their talents as singers, rarely missing a note. Their chemistry onstage together was abundant, making the audience feel as though they were truly mother and daughter. McCaffrey’s role as Donna was one that was a challenge to pull off, having to alternate between comedic and dramatic moments, but she handled it with ease, showing great emotion on songs like “Slipping Through My Fingers” and a more carefree spirit on songs like “Dancing Queen”. The chemistry McCaffrey had with Tanya (Khoudia Diop) and Rosie (Elizabeth Lee) was also a joy to witness, creating some of the funniest moments of the show. Diop’s sassy attitude was complimented by a keen ear for comedic timing, perfectly delivering humorous lines about the fallacies of marriage. The three fathers all brought good energy to their roles, and were often supported by Jillian Geils during many of their songs, a role that Geils took in stride. CJ O’Shea’s performance as Bill was particularly enjoyable to watch, as his charisma brought up the show whenever it lagged a bit. His duet with Lee, “Take a Chance On Me”, was a highlight of the show, as the audience watched him slowly (and hilariously) become seduced.
The leads were backed up by a diverse and talented ensemble, who brought good energy to the show’s group numbers. They sang and danced well together; any missteps were quickly corrected. Some of the featured dancers pulled off truly impressive gymnastic feats, cartwheeling and hand-standing across the stage during the second act. They had the audience in awe.
Connelly’s performance of “Mamma Mia!” benefitted from a beautiful set. The sloping staircase, the blue shingles, and the crooked “Taverna” sign immersed the audience in the Greek setting. In addition, the set seemed very solid and well-designed; it never shook or shuddered under the weight of the actors. The colorful lighting used during the performance worked well with the set, and helped to set the mood during many of the songs, especially during “Our Last Summer” and “Slipping Through My Fingers”, where the sunset wash amplified the nostalgia present in the lyrics. The spotlight sometimes came up on a blank stage, and was occasionally jittery, but it never lasted long, and was corrected pretty quickly.
Connelly’s performance of “Mamma Mia!” was a poppy, playful, and fun rendition of the famous ABBA musical.
The performance reviewed was from Saturday, 03/02/2019.
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