“Mamma Mia” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ January 2, 2014


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

With Tuesday’s return of “Mamma Mia” to ASU Gammage, there should be a giant party on stage.  But there isn’t because of a tired and poorly cast production that doesn’t belong in a major Broadway road tour stop like Phoenix.  This tacky bus and truck company version belongs only in small, unsophisticated theater towns like Tucson where this mediocre tour stopped for a few days before its local engagement.

The show includes nearly two dozen 25-year-old Abba song hits like “Dancing Queen,” “I Have a Dream,” and “Take A Chance On Me” that frame a silly romantic story.  But when the show opened in 1999 on London’s West End and became a huge audience hit, the carefree story coupled with the energetic and tunefully popular songs turned the show into a delightful party.  “Mamma Mia” didn’t move musical theater forward but there’s nothing wrong with pure entertainment.

But the terrible tour that sloughed into ASU Gammage this week is a bleak affair.  The show now lacks the spontaneity and sparkle it originally had as this touring cast seems to be on automatic pilot without a moment of genuine excitement.

Everything works against this tour’s success.  Tacky scenic designs don’t look like the original sets and there’s no turntable to rotate and twist the stationary walls magically into different locales.  Here you see several stagehands pushing and shoving the pieces around lethargically forcing the production into an awkward and draggy performance.

What made “Mamma Mia” so exhilarating was the superlative original cast that inspired successive tours to be full of dazzling sparkle, something not the case with this tour.  Especially bad is this cast’s consistently weak singing especially by the women.  The leads, Chelsea Williams playing daughter Sophie and Georgia Kate Haege as her mother Donna, are ineffectual singers and since this show is based on the dynamic selling of the Abba tunes these two disappoint on song after familiar song.

The show chronicles Sophie’s impending marriage to Sky interwoven with Donna’s unrequited love affairs with her three boy friends from years before.  Any of them could have fathered Sophie.  Donna’s longtime friends, Tanya played by Gabrielle Mirabella and Carly Sakolove’s dynamic Rosie, are both funny.  The men are plain from Mark A. Harmon’s lackluster Harry to Don Winsor’s lifeless Sam but Michael Colavolpe brings some life to Bill.

“Mamma Mia” should be an entertaining delight but this tour has lost that beguiling sparkle. “Mamma Mia” continues at ASU Gammage through Sunday (January 5).  For tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-6678 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade:  D

One Response to ““Mamma Mia” – ASU Gammage”

  1. Denise Williams said:

    Jan 26, 14 at 19:01

    You sir, are an idiot! Yes, this is a scaled down version of the original show but it is still fun and energetic. And the leads can sing!!!