Review: Enthusiastic And Talented Cast Make 'Mamma Mia' A Winner

By: Amy Tagliaferri

Topics: Local Theater

Lindsey Agnes and Blake Gronlund. ROBERT TUCKER/FOCALPOINT STUDIO PHOTO

We didn’t want it to end! Cape Rep’s production of the Broadway musical “Mamma Mia” had us clapping, dancing in our seats and grinning for the entire two-plus hours. And we wanted more!

This show is exactly what we all are craving: a silly, infectious diversion from all the pressures of this chaotic world. “Mamma Mia,” a collaboration of the ABBA songs with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, some songs by Stig Anderson, book by Catherine Johnson and originally conceived by Judy Craymer, was a smash Broadway sensation.

The storyline is outlandish, the familiar music is lighthearted pop and it’s all so fun! Sophie Sheridan lives on a Greek island with her mother Donna, a former singer in a girl group who lives her life with gusto and always has. Twenty-year-old Sophie is in love with Sky and wants a big wedding and a father to give her away. When she stumbles upon her mother’s diary and deduces her father is possibly one of three men, she invites the three to the island in her mother’s name. In the meantime her mother has invited her former band mates, Tanya and Rosie, to come celebrate the nuptials of Sophie and Sky.

The lovely Lindsey Erin Agnes as Sophie opens the show with a beautiful rendition of “I Have a Dream.” Then wham-o! We go on the ride called “Mamma Mia!” when her two best friends (a noteworthy Sarah Hoch and a vivacious Ashlyn Inman) burst on the stage with “Honey, Honey!” From here on in each number is a joyous segue to one song after another, as the story moves along. “Money, Money, Money” reveals Donna’s struggles as a single mother, “Thank You for the Music” and “Mamma Mia” showcase the cataclysmic entrance of the men from her past, and “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper” capture Donna, Tanya and Rosie’s singing career. And that’s just a part of the first act! Director and choreographer Dani Davis spearheads the tempo and then it appears she wisely chooses to give her talented troupe carte blanche after her initial direction.

Trish LaRose, a familiar face at Cape Rep, has never sounded better. The back-to-back numbers “Slipping Through My Fingers” and “The Winner Takes It All” were sung with such emotion and so intensely that many in the opening night audience wiped away a tear. LaRose’s Donna is a tour de force performance for this actor. Alison Weller (Tanya) and Maura Hanlon (Rosie) were hilarious. These two consummate professionals showed off their comedic chops again and again. “Does Your Mother Know” was just one of Weller’s triumphs, and Hanlon brought down the house with “Take a Chance on Me.”

Agnes is absolutely delightful as Sophie. She and Sky (Blake Gronlund) have a sweet chemistry together. The three “Dads” are Sam (played with great emotion by Tom Andrew), Bill (a gregarious Craig McKerley) and Harry (the always expressive Anthony Teixeira). Rounding out the incredible cast are Cam Cote and Connor Roscoe Shea as Sky’s friends, and the talented ensemble filled with theater aficionado favorites Jess Andra, Hannah Carrita, Macklin Devine, Nell Hamilton, Ari Lew, Madison Mayer, Kelly Plescia and Ryan Sheehan. Musical director and keyboard player Peter Hodgson led the impressive band (Ryan Sander, drums; Meyer Brown, guitar; Bess Colgan, keyboard).

The simple set of faux stucco, blue sky and a deeper-blue ocean, conceived by Ryan McGettigan, is the perfect backdrop for all these frenetic, energetic numbers. We loved the disco lighting too! Credit this to lighting designer Herrick Goldman. Robin McLaughlin’s colorful costumes were right on. The contributions of Connor J. Whiteley (props), Kate Gulden (production stage manager) and Jennifer Dupre (stage manager) should also be noted.

You’ll want to see the show again and again but unfortunately you’ll probably only be able to secure a ticket if you act now. The run is close to being sold out. Click on caperep.org as soon as you finish reading this review.

 

DETAILS:
“Mamma Mia”
At Cape Rep Theatre, Route 6A, Brewster
Through Sept. 2, Tuesday to Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org