(Fisher Theatre, Detroit, MI - April 13th, 2011)
As you should all know by now, 'MAMMA MIA!' is the ultimate feel-good show that has audiences singing along and, come the end, up from their seats and up on their feet!
And now the smash-hit musical - that combines ABBA’s greatest hits; such as “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All,” with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship - is here in Detroit at the Fisher Theatre.
But, in case you are not aware, 'MAMMA MIA!' is the story of young Sophie, who lives with her mother on a small Greek island. She is about to be married to Sky and wishes for her father to walk her down the aisle. However, she has a problem, who is her father?
Her mother does not want to tell her and so Sophie reads her mother’s diary and discovers the name of three men who could possibly be her dad. Sophie secretly invites all three men to the wedding. The fun starts when the three men arrive on the island and discover why they have been invited!
This Detroit version of the show is chock full of endless energy and enthusiasm, but some of the singing is, well, just plain bad! Point in case, the role of Sky tonight was played by understudy Mario Matthews - a man who might well be easy on the eyes for the ladies, but who simply cannot carry a note in a bucket to save his life! Off pitch, off key, he should have been off stage the whole time!
Lead actress, Kaye Tuckerman (as Sophie's mother, Donna) was good, held her notes well, but was not perfect either. Originally heralding from Sydney, Australia, come the second act and her Aussie vocal tones were threatening to break through more often than not. And then we have Sophie herself, played by Chloe Tucker. A graduate of the Hamilton Academy School of Music in LA, she sure was energetic, but even her vocals seemed to want to slip down to New Jersey!
As for the show itself, it starts off slow, plot building for our sake, but when the mixture of Abba songs, camp dance routines, platform boots and Lycra costumes all come together, well, the show really takes flight. Indeed, the first big show tune of the night is '"Money, Money, Money," with a dear-in-headlights version of "Mamma Mia!" following closely. But, it's the bedroom scene between the highly-entertaining Mary Callanan (Rosie) and Alison Ewing (Tanya, easily the best actor on show tonight) - complete with singing, dancing, and acting to boot - that steals the show right there and then!
What's also noticeable is that the show seems to be evolving through the ages. For now there are speeches included that surround email, the internet and other such modern things. Into the second act, another slow start eventually leads to a nice, vented "The Winner Takes It All" from Donna, but it is fast becoming noticeable that the three lead men have no power in their own singing voices. Sadly, if they sing alone we beg for accompaniment, and if they sing with someone they get drowned out!
Hence, it is the three leading ladies - especially a great comic double act (Rosie and Tanya) - that completely steal and then dominate the show; before said show, and all its soppy romance comes to a delightful end.
So, whether it’s your first visit or your fourteenth, see the show that has the whole world coming back for more - because every time feels like the first time at 'MAMMA MIA!'
Review by: Russell A. Trunk