This summer I have had the opportunity to see three shows that I want to highlight although none of them are playing anymore, I want to give you my review as they still are on my mind to this day and I give them good reviews. First one goes to Mamma Mia played at the Ordway in July.
I Have a Dream
‘I have a dream, a song to sing, to help me cope with anything.’ This is one of my theme songs in life. I have sung this song in auditions and it has gotten me thru. ‘And my destination, makes it worth a while, pushing thru the darkness, still another miles.’ When I was in sixth grade, I remember my dad encouraging me to listen to ABBA. ‘No I said, I don’t want to.’ I was stuck in the 90’s, but when I finally decided to at the end of my sixth grade year, my heart soared with love for these songs of ‘Mamma Mia, I have a dream, Super Trouper, Thank You for the Music’ and the list goes on and on. So naturally when they musical came in town I had to go. I have seen it from Broadway touring groups about five times and this was my sixth time seeing the show. I see it every time it comes to the theatres. I absolutely love this musical. If someone were to ask me what my favorite musical is it would be a toss up between Wicked and Mamma Mia.
Why do I love Mamma Mia so much? Perhaps it is because I love ABBA music, yes. Perhaps it is because I have fond memories of dancing to these songs in seventh grade with my friends houses at sleepovers. But I think what may be most impressive, is how Benny and Bjorn (writers of ABBA) weaved all this music together and helped to create this musical from their music. Music that has nothing to do with a girl about to get married and looking for her birth father. For me, I think it hits home differently, it homes in a way that is more real than most because of its story line.
I was adopted at the age of six months to amazing parents from Seoul, South Korea. The idea of not knowing who your ‘father is, like in Mamma Mia is appealing to me. Like Sophie says when I meet him, I will know… I have that in my gut as well.
The particular version of Mamma Mia at the Ordway was especially appealing. As I mentioned before, I attend every performance of Mamma Mia I can and usually find every one of them enjoyable. This one was wonderful in the acting, singing, and dancing, but specifically the singing. If you have seen the movie version of Mamma Mia you know the men in that movie can’t sing to save their lives (no offense to Pierce Brosnan). These three ‘dads’ can all sing and their chemistry with both Sophie and Donna (the mom) and with each other are amazing. Robert Berdahl, Aloyisus Gigl, Dieter Bierbrauer all give outstanding performances that are believable that make you think that they are in fact Sophie’s dad.
There are several outstanding aspects about this version of Mamma Mia that make it particularly appealing.
- Set design-The set made you believe you were in Greece on a beautiful ocean. It was huge and the use of staging within the set was particularly appealing to me.
- ‘Under Attack’-The song ‘Under Attack’ is one of my favorites. They opened with this song in Act two where Sophie is having a nightmare. I loved how they used a backdrop screen and showed her having a nightmare in bed unable to sleep. They come out with her in a bed that looks like a jungle gym. As she sings she climbs up the bed as though she is scared. The whole time you can tell how frightened she is in the song. The song makes it particularly capturing when you see her mom and the three possible dads in bed together. I also love how they changed the lyrics to say ‘There’s on my track, three dads, one lover’ instead of ‘ He’s on my track, my chasing lover.’
- ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’-This is a show stopping number. Sophie asks her mom to help her get into her wedding dress. Donna sings this song and I encourage you to look at the lyrics when you get a chance. Every parent around was teary eyed as they remember their child going off. I saw this show with my dad who first introduced me to ABBA. He said it was most compelling because he remembers his girl with her pink backpack going off to school for the first time with sleep in her eyes with precious time that goes by. Now I am not married, but the same idea is true. Time goes by. Sophie sings along the last verse with her mom and it is heartbreaking that time is slipping thru their fingers.
- Chemistry of the three Dynamos-There is amazing chemistry between Donna and her two backup singers/best friends. Props to Christine Sherrill who plays Donna and her backup girls Ann Michels and Erin Schwab who play Tanya and Rosie. They play off each other well and work well as a team. You can tell they are truly best friends.
- Finally last, but not least, I give huge props to Sophie Sheridan the leading lady Ms. Caroline Innerbichler. Caroline brought the house down. She made every audience member feel what she was feeling, her singing voice soared and filled the room, and she embodied the character of Sophie. I would go back to see this show again just to see Caroline’s interpretation of Sophie. She was the standout of the night and truly you can’t take your eyes off her as she embodied this character to a T. I have seen Caroline play other roles in the Twin Cities, but this was by far my favorite role for her.
Mamma Mia is a must see. At the end of the show, they sing three songs and all the audience is up on their feet singing along with them!