MAMMA MIA!Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaleus
Garland Summer Musicals
Cara Statham Serber as Donna Sheridan
Claire DeJean as Sophie Sheridan
Megan Kelly Bates as Rosie
Susan Metzger as Tanya
Greg Hullett as Sam Carmichael
Pete Puckett as Harry Bright
David Noel as Bill Austin
Kietraille Sutton as Sky
Kevin Davis, Jr. as Pepper
Caleb Frank as Eddie
Andrew Nicolas as Father Alexandrious
McKenzie Reece as Lisa
Alejandra Bigio as Ali
Jake Kelly Harris
Austin Jon Hines
DIRECTED by Michael Serrecchia
Produced by Patty Granville
Music Director/Conductor-Mark Mullino
Choreographer-Megan Kelly Bates
Lighting Design-Scott Guenther, SEG Services
Costume Design-Michael A. Robinson, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Sound Design-Tyler Payne, Ultimate AVT, Inc.
Master Carpenter-Joseph Murdock
Props/Set Dressing-Dayna S. Fries
Set Design-Rodney Dobbs
Stage Manager-Rachel DuPree
Assistant to the Producer-Brenda Rozinsky
Technical Director-Timothy Doyle
Keyboard: Larry Miller, Jeff Crouse, John Schweikhard
Guitars: Michael Ragsdale, Scott A. Eckert
Pit Singers-Adelina Clamser, Gabriel Etheridge, Analyse Melendez, Sarah Peterson, Jacob Turner, Andrew Sinn
Reviewed Performance: 6/21/2019
Reviewed by Ann Saucer, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The play opens with twenty-year old Sophie mailing wedding invitations to three men she has identified by purloining her mother Donna's diary of twenty-one years ago. The setting is a gorgeous Greek Isle. The grandiose set, which rotates for quick scene changes, presents white-washed facades with azure accents.
Sophie (played by a gorgeous Claire DeJean) is about to get married, and her dream, or so she believes, is to be walked down the aisle by her father, whom she is sure she will know on sight—if only she gets to meet him. Sophie was raised by a single mother who refuses to identify the father. Sophie, however, has gleaned from dated diary entries and "dot dot dots" – because that's how they described sex in "the olden days" – three potential sperm sources. As Sophie's two best friends (McKenzie Reece, Alejandra Bigio) make their energetic entry to the island and the girls enjoy a bubbly reunion, she fills them in on her secret: Sophie has invited each of the three men to her wedding. In each case, she represented the invitation as coming from Donna, and Donna knows nothing about it. Cue the drama!
Momma Mia! works in trios: three young girls (the bride and her two bridesmaids); the groom and his two besties; the three potential dads; and, the former 1970's vocal group comprised of mother-of-the-bride Donna (Cara Statham Serber), the thrice-divorced Tanya (Susan Metzger), and the wise-cracking, good-natured Rosie (Megan Kelly Bates).
The plot involves an excavation of Donna's fun-filled youth, and the play unfolds with the comic entrances of her five former friends and intimates. The women fall back into an easy comradeship, and they banter together like comfortable old friends. "Donna knows I don't do walking," the glamorously outfitted Tonya complains to Rosie as the two make their entrance. We learn that Tonya has married one jet-setting millionaire after another, and she unabashedly brags about taking their money.
When the characters are not singing and dancing, the play hums along with snappy dialogue. Donna and her contemporaries' hey day, in the 1970's of their youth, is revealed through witty banter. Much like the dance music of the 1970s, this play is about enjoying life, and while there is drama that drives the plot, there are no villains. Or rather, dishonesty with oneself and others is the villain, rather than any one person. One character trait that the writers explore and applaud is the capacity, and indeed duty, of each person to fulfill their lives on their own terms.
Donna, played by a lithe and beautiful Cara Statham Serber, leads a powerhouse ensemble in a big-musical rendition of Money, Money, Money, in which Donna describes her fatigue in earning it by running the Taverna and hotel. Here and throughout this enormously crowd-pleasing production, the audience is treated to excellent choreography, a fleet of talented dancers, great vocals, and the unparalleled experience of a live orchestra.
As the groom Sky, Kietraille Sutton is eye-popping handsome, and he and DeJean have fun chemistry throughout. DeJean has a gorgeous voice, and scene after scene she charms notwithstanding her character's deception.
Serber has a powerful rock voice, and hits it out of the park with "The Winner Takes it All" in the second act. She sings this ballad to Sam Carmichael (Greg Hullett). The effective spotlighting cues us from the beginning that of the three potential fathers, Sam is Donna's true love. Hullett also has a great voice, and his "S.O.S." is spot on. Hullett imbues Sam with a sweet earnestness, and we learn that he sketched the design for Donna's Taverna some twenty years ago.
In the case of potential Dad Harry Bright (Pete Puckett), we learn that he went from a fun-loving rocker to a wealthy, somewhat stuffy ("is there a trouser press on this island?") provider. Puckett does a good job portraying a character grounded by his fundamental decency.
The third potential father, Bill Austin (David Noel), is a globe trotting adventure journalist jokingly referred to as "Indiana." Noel has an adorable and charming stage presence, and his carelessly charismatic Bill also reminded me of Crocodile Dundee. He and Bates are comically endearing as she seduces him in a well-choreographed rendition of "Take a Chance on Me."
Metzger is confident and swaggering as the sexy Tanya, quick with ribald quips. She ably commandeers the stage in a delightful version of "Does Your Mother Know?" All of the dancing in this production is first rate, and a light-footed Kevin Davis, Jr. particularly shines as the amorous Pepper.
As I enjoyed this show, I realized that the sidekicks (Metzger, Bates, Puckett, and Noel) are perfectly cast because they are really enjoying themselves up there, and their glee is infectious.
The musical numbers are sumptuously executed. They include an underwater dream sequence with a gargantuan pearl necklace and sharks, a raucous bachelorette party, and a chorus line of delectable young men high kicking in yellow flippers.
The cast cycles through a glittering array of glorious costumes, including some comically over-the-top 1970's flashbacks. The live orchestra is a real treat. The plush seating at the Granville Arts Center is comfortable. All around, this was an impressive, enjoyable event.
The Garland Summer Musicals did a fantastic job with this fun crowd-pleaser, treating the audience to a grand musical experience. I look forward to their next production, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, opening July19.
The Garland Summer Musicals
In Partnership with Eastfield College
Granville Arts Center
300 N 5th St, Garland, TX 75040
June 14, 2019 through June 23, 2019
For more information go to http://garlandsummermusicals.org