Mamma Mia! Turns Audience into Dancing Queens and Kings

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Mamma Mia! Turns Audience into Dancing Queens and Kings

Julia Weinand, Editor

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A new, original version of Mamma Mia! hit the stage at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater Feb. 2- Feb. 25. Comprised of songs from the music group ABBA, the show kept to the same flair for which it is famous.

Even though Mamma Mia! was originally presented as a musical in 1999, it is hard to compare the cinematic version released in 2008 with the on-stage production. Both productions are phenomenal in their own regards, but the means of presentation are distinctly their own. Having grown up watching the movie, it took some time to get used to the differences in performance.

Some of the staging seemed awkward, especially in the beginning when visitors arrived on the fictional Greek island on which the musical takes place. However, this may have just been me getting used to the story being presented on stage instead of on screen. On-point choreography in “Dancing Queen” and “Voulez-Vous” made up for other losses.

Unlike the movie, “Our Last Summer” was sung by the characters of Donna and Harry instead of Sophie and all three bachelors. This is one of my favorite numbers in the movie, and going into the musical I was worried that I wouldn’t like it as much since stage characters cannot travel the island in the same way. I surprisingly enjoyed this change as it added a sense of nostalgia that gave more depth to Donna’s relationship with Harry.

Paul Weinand
My dad and I worked together to buy Mamma Mia tickets for my mom as a Christmas present.

Harry’s character was also built on more through the addition of “Thank You For the Music”. This song was not featured in the movie, but here it is presented when Sophie realizes that her musical talents could have come from Harry, one of her potential dads.

“Winner Takes It All” was also a pleasant surprise. The movie version often bored me as the characters simply stood there throughout the entire number, but the choreography in the musical was able to show more emotion and the deeper conflict in Donna’s mind of loving Sam, one of the other possible dads.

All members of the cast showed great vocal talent and dancing skills, except for when the actor playing Bill purposefully danced out of rhythm reminding me of my own dad. Quirks such as these added more character to the witty quips found in the movies.

Sentiment was mixed with lighthearted fun as the ensemble committed to wearing flippers across the stage in “Lay All Your Love On Me”, going so far as to parade down the aisle in them.

The ensemble cast danced down the aisle once more during the final number as audience members stood to dance and clap along. One actor even went so far as to pull me into the aisle to dance.

The 5th Avenue production of Mamma Mia! as a whole was brilliantly done and quite interactive with the crowd. Audience members clapped along to multiple tunes, and stood to dance with the bedazzling numbers after bows. Don’t turn down an opportunity to see this spectacular production!

Upcoming performances at the 5th Avenue Theater include Ride the Cyclone; The Illusionists; and Kiss Me, Kate.

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