Review: 'Mama Mia' at The Muny

Erin Karll

  • OnStage St. Louis Critic

Mama Mia, here we go again!  The most recent production of the Muny season was the ABBA jukebox musical “Mama Mia”. A beautiful beach and disco ball lights filled Forest Park. The crowd was dancing and singing along to the classic songs.

 Photo: Michael Thomas

Photo: Michael Thomas

Stand outs of the cast for me were Julia Murney (Donna Sheridan), Justin Guarini (Sam Carmichael), Ann Harada (Rosie), Mike Mcgowan (Bill Austin), Brittany Zeinstra (Sophie Sheridan), Jason Gotay (Sky), and Alexander Aguilar (Peper).  I know that is a lot of stand outs, but it was a great show. Murney and Gaurini had amazing chemistry and duets were filled with emotion, but only half as heartbreaking as their solos. Guarini’s voice has an edge and youth to it. When I first heard about his casting I thought that he seemed a bit young to be one of the fathers. Guarini did not disappoint and showed maturity that fit the character. Murney powerfully held the stage during her characters emotional roller-coaster. Harada and Mcgowan hit the comedy jackpot, and “Take a Chance on Me” received laughter and applause all throughout the scene. Zeinstra and Gotay helped keep the show focused and the story moving, making it more than just an ABBA cover concert. Aguilar only had a few scenes, but stole the stage each time. “Does Your Mother Know?” was funny and the dancing was impressive.

The set was beautifully done. Using the turntable to their advantage director Dan Knechtges and scenic designer Tim Mackabee created a gorgeous Greek resort; seriously I want to go there. Jessica Hartman’s choreography was wonderful. The large ensemble numbers filled the stage, but still drew your eye to certain couples or a group. The finale was amazing. Leon Dobkowski’s costumes were fantastic in the finale and a special nod for the quick change that took place after the bows.

The one issue I had with the production was the sound. I have mentioned it before, but this season the volume is quite loud. Also there were some feedback issues when a few songs were just starting. Controlling the sound for such a large outdoor space cannot be easy, but I have never seen so many shows in a row have this technical issue. The show went on and the glitches were just that, a quick few seconds of feedback.

This was a wonderful, fun, and enchanting show. The power of family and knowing yourself set to the sounds of disco works in this production. I look forward to the rest of the season from The Muny. If you attend, do not forget to vote for next seasons shows. Looks like a lot of great choices coming up.