Theatre Review: “Mamma Mia” @ Broadway San Jose, 06/07/11

Broadway San Jose is celebrating their 2-year anniversary and the close of their 2010-2011 season with the hit songs of Abba in the Broadway smash hit, Mamma Mia. Some of the world’s best pop songs are featured in this show – “Dancing Queen”, “S.O.S.”, “Mamma Mia” and “Take a Chance on Me”. It’s fun, light-hearted and never takes itself too seriously.

Mamma Mia is the ultimate chick-flick of musical theatre. My advice: leave your husbands at home for this one and get a group of girls together and have some serious fun! You will leave the theatre with a big smile on your face, mostly because the touring cast is having so much fun on stage that you can’t ignore their infectious energy!

A current staple on Broadway, Mamma Mia will have it’s 10-year anniversary on Broadway on October 18th, 2011. It opened in a post-September 11th aftermath, where Broadway audiences needed to escape and start smiling again. With the current economic crisis, audiences are still looking for an escape and they know it’s a sure-fire thing with Mamma Mia. Also, with the success of the 2008 movie, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, it’s still an unstoppable force. The Center for the Performing Arts was completely sold-out opening night on Tuesday!

The star of the this touring production is local Bay Area actress, Alison Ewing (Tanya). Her charisma, comic timing and physical comedy was fantastic. Ewing was last seen in the Bay Area performing at San Jose Rep’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as Rona. Whenever, the three ladies, Kaye Tuckerman (Donna Sheridan) and Mary Callanan (Rosie) were on stage I was always watching Ewing. She’s a true star in this production.

Chloe Tucker (Sophie Sheridan) and Happy Mahaney (Sky) held the show together with their great looks, romantic charm and great singing ability. Tucker’s spunk and energy easily carried the show and she was irresistible. It was also great to see Mahaney perform on stage after he hosted the 2011 Stage Top Honor Awards Gala the night before at the California Theatre. His love for the theatre is palpable!

Unfortunately, we saw the understudy for Sam Carmichael, played by Jeff Applegate (usually played by John Bisom). Usually, I love seeing understudies, but Applegate’s age and lack of charisma left a hole in the romantic relationship between Donna and Sam. It felt awkward when they decided to marry at the end of the show because their relationship never really worked, nor did I ever believe that Applegate could have ever been Sophie’s dad.

Overall, Mamma Mia wasn’t my favorite show. It was actually the first time I have ever seen it. It obviously has found a world-wide audience and that can’t be ignored, but somehow it didn’t pull me in like I thought it would. But if you are looking to smile, laugh and listen to some of the best pop songs ever written, then you’ll enjoy Mamma Mia. It’s almost impossible not to.

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2 thoughts on “Theatre Review: “Mamma Mia” @ Broadway San Jose, 06/07/11

  1. Agreed -We saw this same performance. Alison Ewing (Tanya)and Mary Callanan (Rosie) stole the show. They were obviously seasoned and have wonderful comedic timing and excellent voices. I did not realize we were watching the understudy for Sam Carmichael’s role. His performance was very flat an unemotional. Tuckerman’s role as Donna also felt very whiny and self centered, I don’t recall that from other productions I have seen. On a scale of 1 -10 — I’d say 5 and would NOT recommend other spend the money to see it.

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