Last night, I took a chance and went to see a touring Broadway production that was in town. That show was none other than Mamma Mia!, the smash hit musical featuring the music of pop wonders ABBA. I can't call myself a fan of ABBA, mainly because I don't know enough of their music to be able to do so. But I do know some, and it was enough to really make Mamma Mia! thoroughly enjoyable.
If you've never heard of this show, the basic premise is this: A girl wants to get married, but wants to first find out who her father is so that she can live her dream of "finding out who she is" and "doing the whole wedding thing right". The story flows along, and the songs of ABBA are sung throughout. I imagine the initial idea for the show went something like this:
Person #1: Dude1, I have this totally great idea for a show.
Person #2: Okay, dude, let's hear it.
Person $3: Is it that totally lame idea we talked about the other day, about some silly girl who wants to get married? Puh-leeze!
Person #1: Dude, shut up!... Well, yeah it is. But I had a brilliant idea! We should make it a musical, and, and, and totally use ABBA's music to go along with it. It's totally perfect!
Persons #2 and #3 Gasp! It is! It is!
Okay, that's probably just my warped imagination at work there. The show originated in England, so British people, to my knowledge, don't talk like that. In fact, I don't think the word totally2 is even in their vocabulary. They probably were having tea when the idea originated, then progressed, and finally came to fruition. But I digress.
To put it simply, this show is fabulous! The simple story line leaves lots of room for humor and fun, and what's even better is that the characters themselves are so important to the story. Add much singing and dancing, and you're looking good. Make them songs you already know (or have at least heard once or twice), and you're golden.
At the beginning of the show, I was sitting next to a woman who was "excited" about the show. Of course, she described herself as a "huge fan of ABBA" (despite her small stature). And while she seemed excited to see it, she also seemed keen to be ready to trash-talk should it not live up to her standards. Luckily for me, I had a seat mix-up and got to switch seats, so I never did find out if Mrs. Cynical succeeded in her quest for disappointment.
Mamma Mia! is two and a half hours of sheer fun and good entertainment. While at first I thought the music was simply being played from CD or some other prerecorded device, I was delighted to notice a conductor in front of the stage. Sure enough, there was an orchestra in the pit, replete with big drums and plenty of synthesizers. The music was so crisp and sounded so good that it was impossible to not tap my foot along with the beats.
And, as you may have guessed by the title, by the time they sang "Dancing Queen," I was all set to jump in and dance along with them. The energy of the cast and the music was positively contagious. By the time the show was over, I was full of energy that I didn't think I could contain. Luckily, I was in for a treat in the form of an encore of three songs. The entire cast got out on stage (20-30 people, or thereabouts) to sing and dance to some of Abba's most famous songs. Six of the cast got all decked out in classic Abba gear (the silver platform shoes/boots were my favorite).
So here I am, away from the show but left with vivid memories of a truly enjoyable evening. "Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine..."
1The word "dude" is gender neutral. At least in this context.
2If you have a sense of humor, this comment might strike you as funny. Or not. If it doesn't, rest assured that it's not true. And that's why you should be laughing.