Mamma Mia! Mac-Haydn delivers pleasing rendition of musical

'Mamma Mia!' plugs about 20 songs from the ABBA canon
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CHATHAM — Wikipedia says “On any given day, there are at least seven performances of Mamma Mia! being performed around the globe.”

Given the size of the planet, maybe that’s not surprising, but you get the idea. 

On Saturday, there were two of those performances at Mac-Haydn Theatre, and there will be 16 more.

The matinees are nearly sold out, so if you are an ABBA fan or a Mac-Haydn devotee, call now.

You won’t be disappointed. At the heart of this production is Betsy Padamonsky as Donna. Having just finished the show’s national tour, Padamonsky takes the full dramatic and musical measure of a hard-working mother who has raised her daughter by herself on a Greek island, running a resort night and day.

The daughter, Sophie (Kelly Gabrielle Murphy), is 20 and about to be married. Sophie has snooped in her mother’s diary and discovered the names of three men, one of whom is probably the father she has never known. She invites all three to the island, convinced that she will learn who that man is.

Complications naturally ensue.

Unlike most musicals, in which librettist, lyricist and composer collaborate on the end product, “Mamma Mia!” plugs about 20 songs from the ABBA canon into a book by Catherine Johnson. Each of these mini-dramas, whatever the original impetus for its composition, now adds to the whole.

So, for example, “Under Attack,” which chronicles a lover’s distress, is used in a nightmare scene at the top of Act 2, when Sophie tosses and turns, agitated by the situation she has created with her upcoming marriage to Sky (Gino Cardoni), the arrival of the men, and, perhaps, her mother’s disapproval. This scene, like a number of others, is strikingly choreographed by Bryan Knowlton, who is also the show’s imaginative director.

Of course, some ABBA songs are more memorable than others: “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Super Trouper,” “Voulez Vous” (the Act 1 closer showcasing the outstanding ensemble of 15 young performers, plus Steffany Pratt & Emma Flynn as Sophie’s friends), and “I Do, I Do, I Do.” 

But there is equally nice work here in the intimate numbers. “Thank You for the Music” features Murphy (splendid throughout) and Colin Pritchard, Steve Hassmer and Gabe Belyeu as her father figures. Pritchard shines in “Name of the Game,” and Belyeu scores with “S.O.S” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You.” 

As Donna’s friends and back-up singers from their long-ago performing days, Madison Stratton and Erin Spears Ledford are delightful comic foils. And costumer Bethany Marx made me long for the days of disco. LOL. 

Music director Jillian Zack has trained the cast to a fare-thee-well and conducts a tight pit band.

But back to Padamonsky. Maybe the acid test for any actress playing Donna is “The Winner Takes It All.”

Padamonsky works in the nooks and crannies of the lyrics and music: It’s a stunning performance.

At intermission we observed a couple evidently going to their car.

“They do a good job,” he said to her. But perhaps one act was enough? ABBA fans, however, will want to stay for the bows, so they can sing along.

Which is what they’ve wanted to do throughout the evening.

‘Mamma Mia!’

WHERE: The Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Rte. 203, Chatham

WHEN: Through July 22

HOW MUCH: Adults, $39.50-$36.50; children 12 and under, $15

MORE INFO: 518-392-9292 or machaydntheatre.org
 

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