In Review: Music, Dancing Carry ‘Mamma Mia!’ Performance

The cast of “Mamma Mia!” dances during a scene. P-J Photo by Valory S. Isaacson

If you like the music of ABBA, get your ticket now for “Mamma Mia!” at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown. Director Helen Merrill has pulled together an energetic cast and superb musicians to bring Jamestown this showcase of ABBA songs.

“Mamma Mia!” with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and some songs with Stig Anderson, book by Catherine Johnson, was originally conceived by Judy Cramer, and was originally produced in London by Cramer, Richard East and Bjorn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal in 1999. The musical is set on an island off the coast of Greece.

If you’re not familiar with the plot, Sophie Sheridan, played by Kenzie Mason is getting married to Sky (Ron Carrington Jr.) and wants her father to attend. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who her father is. Based on her mother’s diary it’s either Harry (Matt Jones), Bill (Steve Wendell), or Sam (Bob Ostrom), so, she invites all three. Her friends Ali (Haley Pierce) and Lisa (Mad’onnina Gullo) are in on the secret.

Meanwhile, mother Donna, played by Linda Ostrom, welcomes her best friends Tanya and Rosie, played by Jennifer Davis and Katie Ryan to the island.

Pepper (Zander Chase) and Eddie (Hunter Dearing) and other locals help to prepare for the wedding, officiated by Father Alexandrios (Skip Anderson).

It’s a thin plot, but the point of the evening is the music and dancing, and that carries the show. Kenzie Mason and Linda Ostrom top the charts, and Pierce, Gullo, Davis and Ryan all hold their own admirably. The men are a tad weaker, but their animation makes it all enjoyable. Unfortunately, the orchestra, which is terrific, tends to overwhelm the singing frequently. A little less volume would be nice.

I enjoyed the evening very much, and especially liked the comic number during the song, “Lay All Your Love On Me,” when Eddie, Pepper and other male members of the chorus perform wearing swim fins. I laughed out loud, and am still wondering how they did it without tripping.

Tiffany Wakeley Heintzman did an amazing job of choreographing everything from slow dances to manic crowd scenes, and the dream sequence must have been a real challenge, successfully met.

Set design and construction by Norm Merrill, Jason Dorman, Helen Merrill, and Sam Allessi was simple and effective in mediterranean colors.

Someday, I’d like to write a review giving more information about supporting players and about the crew, but to all of them, just know that your work is appreciated.

Chorus members are Corin Derby, Alda Brown, Rachel Ekstrom, Bethany Hall, Courtney Hays, Chloe Kilmartin, Lindsay Russell, Melissa Vullo, Tara Chase, Sharee Dominick, Stephanie Buvoltz Brown, Slyvana Colletti, Patti Culliton, Melissa Froah, Charlie Carrington, Donovan Gomez, Skip Anderson, Zander Chase, Hunter Dearing, Joshua Monroe, Jacob Smith, Maddy Dorman. Pit Chorus: Skip Anderson, Anne Eklund, Dan Scapeletti, Melanie Sheley, Basile Gedz.

The orchestra is conducted by Michelle Battaglia with Gail Espinoza, Tim Przybelinski, Jennifer Lundmark. Brandon Caruso is the keyboardist, while Jeremy Bunce and Kyle Gustafson are the guitarists. Peter Cohen is the bassist, and Brent Isaacson is on drums.

Technical director is Dorman, stage manager is Julia Pettibon, and assistant stage manager is Patti Dechow.

Doug Gray and Aubrey Russell handled sound, with lighting design by Dorman.

Other crew members include Patti Culliton, Pettibon, Janice Merrill, Dorman, Melanie Shely, Basil Gedz, Julia Pettibon, Melissa Vullo, Jacquie Benson, Ron Carringon, Eric Pettibon, Isiah Quigley, Taryn Dechow, and Hannah Gazdak.

Performances are today, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m. In addition, performances have been added for Friday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 27 at both 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For tickets, visit www.lucilleballlittletheatre.org/reservations or call the box office at 483-1095.

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