Entertainment » Theatre

Mamma MIa!

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jul 2, 2018
Tari Kelly, Erica Mansfield and Jeanette Bayardelle in "Mamma Mia!" at Theatre by the Sea through July 21.
Tari Kelly, Erica Mansfield and Jeanette Bayardelle in "Mamma Mia!" at Theatre by the Sea through July 21.  

You don't have to be an ABBA fan to enjoy Theatre By The Sea's production of the musical "Mamma Mia," but it helps. This is a two-hour burst of summertime fun, filled with one great song after another.

The Swedish pop group's music forms the basis for the story about a hotel owner named Donna who finds herself confronted by three of her ex-lovers.

Sam Carmichael (David Elder), Bill Austin (Al Bundonis), and Harry Bright (Christopher Carl) all arrive on the idyllic Greek island for Sophie's (Malia Monk) wedding to Sky (Nick Walker Jones).

One of the men is Sophie's father and she wants to know who it is before she ties the knot.

Bill is a globetrotting writer and free-spirit. Sam ran out on Donna and got married. Harry is a stuffy businessman who used to be into heavy metal. They all cause Donna enormous angst as she prepares for her daughter's big day.

There are other visitors: Donna's friends and former singing partners, the vivacious Rosie (Jeanette Bayardelle) and vain Tanya (Tari Kelly), who has been married several times and is addicted to plastic surgery.

Monk, a recent graduate from the Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee College, more than holds her own against the more seasoned performers in the cast. She has an easygoing innocence that never becomes cloying. Her singing on ballads like "I Have a Dream" and "Thank You for the Music" is effective and sweet.


The cast of "Mamma Mia!"  

Erica Mansfield has the most challenging role in the show as Donna, and she rises to the occasion. She is self-reliant yet vulnerable, but also willing to let her hair down when Rosie and Tanya insist on reliving their carefree singing days.

Mansfield does a stellar rendition of "The Winner Takes It All."

Elder is charismatic and delivers a superb vocal on "Knowing Me, Knowing You."

Bayardelle, who starred as Deloris in "Sister Act" a few years ago at Theatre By The Sea, is very sexy and funny here. Rosie's repeated attempts to seduce Bill ("Take a Chance On Me") by chasing him through rows of chairs, brought down the house.

Not to be outdone, Tanya has a flirtation with the young stud Pepper (hunky Steven Del Col).

Director/choreographer Kevin Hill seems to understand how preposterous this all is and has irreverent fun with the musical numbers.

The troupe of athletic male dancers strut onto the stage sporting scuba gear during "Lay All Your Love On Me." They carry briefcases stuffed with cash for "Money Money Money."

Donna, Rosie, and Tanya belt out a show-stopping "Dancing Queen" while frolicking in a bedroom. The high energy on display is infectious.

This is also a beautiful-looking show. Set designer Kyle Dixon has created a luxurious tropical paradise, complete with a shimmering ocean.

Dana Pinkston's costumes are bright and flashy, especially the glittering pantsuits worn by Donna, Rosie, and Tanya and the multi-colored beach wear for the guys.

Theatre By The Sea has a reputation for staging high quality shows and "Mamma Mia" is no exception. The exuberance of the performers and the skill and dedication of the musicians and technical crew manage to create a highly entertaining experience.

"Mamma Mia" runs through July 21. Theatre By The Sea. 364 Cards Pond Road, Wakefield. For tickets, call 401-782-8587.


Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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