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Theater review: Music, fun make ‘Mamma Mia!’ shine

Theater review: Music, fun make ‘Mamma Mia!’ shine

There’s a whole lotta talent going on on the stage of Proctors. Its production of “Mamma Mia!,” dubb

‘Mamma Mia!’

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

WHEN: Through Sunday

HOW MUCH: $65-$20

MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org

There’s a whole lotta talent going on on the stage of Proctors. Its production of “Mamma Mia!,” dubbed “The smash hit musical based on the songs of ABBA,” is definitely worth the trip to State Street and the price of a ticket. It is pure fun.

Related story

For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell's preview of this show, click here.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is as thin as it gets — it is no “West Side Story” — but the music and the acting of the great songs is equal to any other “smash hit musical.”

The audience is warned during the curtain speech that “platform boots and white spandex” will be used during the show. It should also be warned that the music is often uncomfortably loud. Sound designers Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken might have considered their audience — any 50-somethings are just not into chest-thumping, ear-splitting volume. Bring your ear plugs. I wish I had.

That said, the show gets off to a slow start with young Sophie (Chloe Tucker) sending off letters of invitation to her wedding. We discover that the letters were to three men who might be her father. She hopes one of them will walk her down the aisle.

Her mother, Donna, (Kaye Tuckerman) doesn’t actually know who Sophie’s father is. Sophie has discovered a diary describing a summer of love and the three guys are mentioned. One can only guess how she got their addresses, since Sophie and Donna live on a Greek island and the men are scattered over the globe.

Donna owns a hotel and the men arrive seeking rooms and an explanation for their invitations. Each man independently concludes that he is Sophie’s father and will walk her down the aisle. Into the mix toss Sophie’s “aunts,” Tanya (Alison Ewing) and Rosie (Mary Callanan), two ladies who have been around the block a few times. And then there is the ensemble — that glorious, young, talented ensemble that fills the stage with joyous energy and makes the ABBA close harmonies soar.

Splendid moments

In a wonderfully buoyant scene, the three older women, Donna, Tanya and Rosie, recall the carefree days of their youth in their performance of “Chiquitita” and then “Dancing Queen.” It is a splendid moment and it gets better and better.

Donna and Sam (Tony Clements) team up for a sublime rendition of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and Donna and Sophie offer a heart-rending performance of “Slipping Through My Fingers.”

But it is Tuckerman’s soulful performance of “The Winner Takes it All” that absolutely stops the show. Her acting of the song’s lyrics is superlative and it gives the weak text meaning and life.

Clements as one of Sophie’s potential fathers gives a strong performance. His rendition of “S.O.S.” is a heart-touching joy. Callanan knows her way around a comic line as she performs the raunchy “Take a Chance on Me.” Of the ensemble, Ethan Le Phong is a standout for his electrifying acrobatics.

The production is designed by Mark Thompson, and he must be congratulated. It is a masterpiece of beauty and simplicity. Lighting by Howard Harrison evokes the watery wonder world of a Grecian isle. Choreography by Anthony Van Laast is clever, often witty, and truly original.

Even if you are not familiar with the songs of ABBA (Is that even possible?) you will love this show.

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