Review: Pure entertainment now plays on The Winnipesaukee Playhouse stage with their production of Mamma Mia!

 Photo Credit: Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Photo Credit: Courtesy The Winnipesaukee Playhouse

Angelica Potter

  • Boston Theatre Critic

Mamma Mia!, the jukebox musical that features some of ABBA’s most beloved hit songs, is delighting audiences at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith, New Hampshire. Since premiering in London’s West End in 1999, Mamma Mia! has become a worldwide phenomenon and gone on to become one of the most popular, if not the most popular, jukebox musical of all time. The story revolves around the wedding of twenty-year old Sophie Sheridan who, in an effort to discover who she really is, reads her mother’s diary and discovers the identities of three men who could possibly be her father. She secretly invites them to her wedding with the hope that when they arrive she will know which man is her father. Upon arrival, Harry, Bill, and Sam, all of whom thought their old flame Donna had sent them invitations, realize it was the possible daughter they didn’t know they had and not Donna who invited them. Tensions rise when Donna sees for the first time in twenty-one years her old lovers again, but will she give in to the love she still has for them or will she dig in her heels and allow her complex past to keep her from a happy future?

The performance opened with an overture performed by the six piece band led by Music Director and Conductor Shoshana Seid-Green. In those first few minutes the tone for the performance was established and it was electric. The pulse set by the band kept the momentum of the show moving right along. There was never a moment of awkward silence or a chance to look at ones watch wondering when it would be over. 

This energetic cast was directed by Bryan Knowlton, who also served as choreographer. Bryan skillfully showcased the tenderness and heart of this production while also allowing for as much fun as possible to be had by not only the cast, but the audience as well. His choreography was a fantastic mix of jazz, modern, and a bit of hip hop, and felt exhilaratingly fresh when performed by the talented cast. They danced with sharpness and intensity in numbers like “Money, Money, Money”, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and “Voulez Vous”.  The ensemble, with their supreme dancing, clearly loved each moment they were on stage.

Molly Parker Myers as Donna Sheridan, delivered strong vocals and played the feisty, independent Donna wonderfully. Her scenes with daughter Sophie, played by Teghan Marie Kelly, were tenderhearted and their chemistry as mother-daughter was entirely believable. Their performance of “Slipping Through My Fingers” was beautifully performed and brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience. Teghan Marie Kelly as Sophie Sheridan was perfection! Having seen her in a number of productions over the years this was by far the best performance I have seen her give. Her vocals were gorgeous and she made smart character choices. She was charming, sweet and genuine in her portrayal. 

The supporting characters featured Kelley Davies and Lindsey Bristol as Sophie’s best friends Ali and Lisa, Roxy York and Sebastian Ryder as Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie, Nolan Baker as Sophie’s fiancé Sky, Chris Hendricks and Olin Blackmore as Sky’s best friends Pepper and Eddie, Mark Stephen Woods as Bill Austin, Marc Willis as Sam Carmichael and Kyle Yampiro as Harry Bright. Each had their own likable traits, strong vocals, and all were delightful to watch.

The scenic design by Melissa Shakun was beachy with various levels of docks connected upstage and high walls with windows framing the stage that looked like a building made of shiplap. The lighting played a big part in creating the moods of each scene and designer Graham Edmondson used lighting that paired pleasantly with the set. The colorful and plentiful costumes were designed by Chelsea Kerl.

It was not a perfect performance, but live theatre is rarely all together perfect and that is one reason why people love it so much. It’s fresh, exciting and anything can happen; just like life. The audience couldn’t get enough and stood loudly applauding not only during curtain call, but again through and to the end of the encore. Direct quotes from the audience after the show: “Wow”, “Excellent”, “So much fun”, “I loved it” and many more positive comments. If you need a break from a reality of stress and strife, go see this immensely enjoyable production. ©

 

Mamma Mia! runs about two and a half hours including intermission and plays at The Winnipesaukee Playhouse until August 11th. Performances are Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30pm with matinees on July 30th, August 2nd, August 6th, and August 9th at 2pm. There are no performances on Sundays. Tickets range from $20-$34. For additional information and tickets visit www.winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org 

Special Events from the Education Department:

Wednesday, August 1st- Talkback
Following the performance, you’re invited for an informal discussion with the cast and creative team.

Thursday, August 9th, 6-6:45pm – Symposium

Pre-show presentation offering insight into the play. Presented by Musical Director Shoshana Seid-Green.

For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/