Tonight was either the 4th or 5th time I have seen "Mamma Mia" on Broadway and it continues to be a very fun and enjoyable show! For those unaware with the show, "Mamma Mia" tells the story of a daugther who longs to find out the identity of her father. On the eve of her wedding, she invites three possible men to her wedding without her mother's knowledge. What ensues is a mother, daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you'll never forget!
I attended "Mamma Mia" tonight because my friend and fellow "Call Me Adam" participant Zak Resnick is making his Broadway debut in the show. I couldn't be more excited for him! I've been a fan of Zak's for a few years now, seeing him in various concerts around the city, hearing his glorious vocals on Jonathan Reid Gealt's debut CD "Thirteen Stories Down" singing "September of '92" and his numerous YouTube videos, and most recently seeing Zak in Seth Rudetsky's "Disaster" at The Triad.
There are many musicals that have used popular music to help tell their story, but "Mamma Mia" continues to be the reigning champion because the Catherine Johson, who wrote the show, found a way to make every song fit perfectly into the show. Every time I see "Mamma Mia," I am constantly reminded of just how well written it is. I feel "Mamma Mia" is such a successful show because it's pure fun! The music is great, the story is engaging, and the casts I've seen have always been talented! Tonight was no execption!!
One of the other things I love most about "Mamma Mia" is that it boasts the Broadway debut for so many performers which allows a dream to come true for them while helping keep the show fresh for everyone, especially the audience! In addition to Zak, it was a real treat to see Christy Altomare, Lauren Cohn, Traci Victoria, Halle Morse, Jacob Pinion, Andrew Chappelle, Allyson Carr, Felicity Claire, Mark Dancewicz, and Bryan Scott Johnson all make their Broadway debut. A mixture of lead and ensemble performers, they all deserved a round of applause for this moment!
Now on with the actual show. Leading the cast was Judy McLane as "Donna," the mother of "Sophie" (played by Christy Altomare), who's getting married. I had seen Judy previously in "Mamma Mia" when she was playing the role of best friend "Tanya" (now played by Felicia Finley). Judy was great as "Tanya," but seeing her as "Donna" continued to prove just what a talent Judy is. She lead this show successfully, hitting all the right notes! Her powerhouse vocals filled the theatre and beyond! Judy knew how to give her all and left me wanting much more, especially after "Slipping Through My Fingers" and "The Winner Takes It All." Christy was great in her Broadway debut as "Sophie." She held her own terrifically and had very strong vocals which I was excited to hear every time she sang! She really shined on "I Have A Dream" and "Under Attack." As "Donna's" best friend "Rosie," Lauren Cohn was fantastic! She had excellent comedic timing and powerful vocals, especially on "Take A Chance On Me." I am so glad to have been introduced to her and her talent! Playing "Donna's" other best friend, "Tanya," Felicia Finley was divine! I had previously seen Felicia in "Aida" and "The Wedding Singer," so it was great to see her back on Broadway! Felicia got to showcase her comedic talents as well as her beautiful voice, especially on "Does Your Mother Know." In the role of "Sky," "Sophie's" fiance, was Zak! What can I say, Zak was amazing! I enjoyed getting to hear his golden voice on "Lay All Your Love On Me." I wanted to hear more of Zak's voice, but the role of "Sky" does not lend itself to many solo moments of singing. Acting wise, Zak scored big and I'm thrilled he got so much stage time! Zak and Christy had good chemistry together, making it believeable that these two could really be getting married. The bond between Judy, Lauren, and Felicia was beautiful! I truly believed they had been best friends for years. They played very well off of each other.
In the role of "Sophie's" best friend, Traci Victoria and Halle Morse, were very fun as "Ali" and "Lisa." They made it seem like there was a true friendship between the three of them. Jacob Pinion and Andrew Chappelle were delightful as "Pepper" and "Eddie," "Sky's" best friends. Aaron Lazar, Daniel Cooney, and Graham Rowat were wonderful as "Donna's" past lovers and "Sophie's" potential fathers, "Sam Carmichael," "Bill Austin," and "Harry Bright." They all had excellent singing voices! I thought Daniel was the strongest of the three in acting as well. When I had previously seen "Mamma Mia," I remember the role of "Harry" being played with an Australian accent, as the character was supposed to have been living in the Outback. Daniel did not play the role with an Australian accent and I missed hearing that because I felt it added more to the character. I loved Aaron's singing voice. I could listen to him for hours, but when it came to acting, I did not find him to be as loose with the character of "Sam" as I had seen in previous actors. Aaron's strong vocals certainly made up for it though! The ensemble were all enjoyable and sounded great!
"Mamma Mia" continues to be a fun night on Broadway! It has been on Broadway for over 10 years now and is still as fresh as when I first attended it in 2002. This current cast is quite enjoyable and all deserved the standing ovation I gave them! "So I say, thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing, thanks for all the joy they're bringing!"
Come inside the world of "Mamma Mia" with a really fun video of this current casts' photo shoot!