The Column Online



Music and Lyrics by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson
Book by Catherine Johnson

Granbury Theatre Company

Director - Jay Lewis
Assistant Director - Nathan Early
Music Director - Greg Doss
Choreographer - Jadie Phelps
Assistant Choreographer - Stephanie Simmons
Scenic Designer - Wendy Searcy-Woode
Costume Designer - Drenda Lewis
Prop Mistress - Gaylene Carpenter
Lighting Designer - Hank Baldree
Sound Designer - Haden Capps

Technical Director - Kalani Morissette
Stage Manager - Whitney Shearon
Light Board Operator - Whitney Shearon
Sound Board Operator - Haden Capps
Stage Running Crew - Devon Kleine and Josh Tipton
Spotlight Operators - Faith Melton and Emily Pyle

Sophie Sheridan - Mikki Lewis
Donna Sheridan - Amanda Williams Ware
Sam Carmichael - Tim Herndon
Bill Austin - Micky Shearon
Harry Bright - Miles Emerson
Sky - Bradley McKinney
Tanya - Courtney Mitchell
Rosie - Stephanie Felton
Lisa - Fatima Austin
Ali - Stephanie Simmons
Pepper - Aaron Brooks
Eddie - John Pollock
Father Alexandrios - Bob Beck

Dance Ensemble:
Fatima Austin
Kevin Baum
Bailey Brewer
Aaron Brooks
Ashtyn Campbell
Levi Casler
JD Choate
Alexandria Owens
John Pollock
Stephanie Simmons

Elizabeth Baker
Bob Beck
Brandi Giles
Alaina Gunter
Connie Ingram
Chelsea Manning
Justus Peters, MD
Jade Reneau
Cheyenne Shreve
Tori Townsend
Kristi Wood

Reviewed Performance: 3/2/2019

Reviewed by Darlene Singleton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

MAMMA MIA! is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topper "Mamma Mia" and tells the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her birth father. This entertaining tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise.

On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The magic of ABBA's timeless songs propels this delightful tale of love, laughter and friendship.

MAMMA MIA! begins with 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (played perfectly by Mikki Lewis) one month before her wedding to Sky (Bradley McKinney). Sophie is wide-eyed and innocent and was raised by a single mother (Amanda Williams Ware) who never told her who her father is. In 1979, when sex and drugs were in fashion, Mom had flings with three different guys. As luck would have it, Sophie recently found her mother's old diary and managed to gather the names of her three potential fathers - dot, dot, dot. She decides to invite them all to her wedding (by putting her mother's name on the invitation) to see if she can figure out her true patronage before getting married. Needless to say, this is rather upsetting for her mother, who is then forced to confront some old feelings and choices when her past loves arrive on her island. The scenes with Sky and Sophie were enjoyable to watch and the love (chemistry) for each other shone through every scene they had together. McKinney was very good in the role of Sophie’s fiancé.

I’ve heard numerous musical directors say ABBA's catalog is difficult to sing but Lewis owned the stage in every song – she even owned the stage when it wasn’t her song! Her stage presence was mesmerizing – I couldn’t take my eyes off her through most of the show. I love this show and I walked into the theater with high expectations for whoever was going to portray Sophie -- Lewis brought everything I expected and more - impulsive, spontaneous and full of energy. She was endearing from the moment the lights came up and she sang with her wonderful voice on such numbers as “I Have A Dream (which was a glorious rendition),” “Honey, Honey,” “The Name of the Game” (she was totally believable as a young woman trying to determine who is her father) - she held the audience in the palm of her hands throughout the next few hours. Remember her name – Mikki Lewis – she is a force to reckon with.

Amanda Williams Ware as Donna Sheridan (Sophie's mom) belts out several heartfelt numbers through the show -- from "Dancing Queen" to "The Winner Takes it All" and she delivers every time.

Rosie played by Stephanie Felton and Courtney Mitchell who plays Donna's other friend, Tanya, are spot on in their roles. The two of them are really a delight in every scene together and they solidify the lengths friends will go to for one another. Their energy on “Money, Money, Money” and “Chiquitita” was enjoyable to watch.

The large ensemble moved on and off set portraying hotel guests and staff and friends of the family. Occasionally they seemed to be on stage for no purpose but two of the actors were always fun to watch - Bailey Brewer and Levi Casler stayed in character and in the moment while onstage. My guest and I both noticed their consistency and we were both impressed. The ensemble of guys wearing flippers singing “Lay All Your Love on Me” is pure entertainment and had the audience laughing loudly throughout the theater.

Director, Jay Lewis, and choreographers, Jadie Phelps and Stephanie Simmons, showed great creativity in "Under Attack" which was well executed and included a choreographed nightmare sequence that was really fun to watch. The sequence includes the three possible Dads each in a Tuxedo, the Groom dressed as a bride, along with the ensemble dressed all in black. Not to give the scene away I encourage you to see the show – the creativity in this scene is worth the ticket price.

The chemistry between characters was sometimes lacking for me – I didn’t always believe the relationship between Mother and Daughter or between Donna and Sam played by Tim Herndon … BUT the relationship between Bill (played by Mickey Shearon) and Rosie (Stephanie Felton) was the highlight of the show. Oh my goodness they were wonderful to watch together and their performance of “Take A Chance On Me” was tremendous – I wish that one scene could be videotaped because it would spread like wild fire on social media – it was just that fun and powerful.

Miles Emerson played Harry Bright and his performance with Sophie in their portion of “Thank You For The Music” was so sweet and tender – well done you two.

Initially I was a bit reserved on Pepper, played by Aaron Brooks, but then he came to life in Act 2 and his performance with Mitchell in “Does Your Mother Know” was one of the most fun scenes in the show – he has a wonderful rich voice - not to mention a well-built physique with athletic moves.

Gaylene Carpenters props were interesting – the stuffed fish and the various cocktails were a bit unusual in appearance and I’m still wondering what the red drink was that Tanya pretended to enjoy on the beach.

Scenic Designer Wendy Searcy-Woode provided a great visual of the fictional Greek taverna in tones of blues and whites with shuttered windows and functional doors as well as moveable set pieces evoking the different settings.

The Granbury Theatre Company has a beautiful facility – their current season is labeled Broadway on the Brazos. If you haven’t been there, I encourage to go but allow time to visit the downtown square – such a quaint area.

133 Pearl Street, Granbury, Texas
Through March 24, 2019