Review: Take a chance on PTC’s ‘Mamma Mia!’

The cast of "Mamma Mia!" at Pioneer Theatre Company. Photo: PTC

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 17, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Pioneer Theatre Company’s “Mamma Mia!” is like a joyous, barefoot romp through the sunshine and sand.

Except you don’t have to apply sunblock or clean up grit for weeks afterward.

The musical, written around the music of ’70s Swedish pop band ABBA, tells the story of Sophie (actress Kathryn Brunner), raised by her single mother, never knowing the identity of her father. And neither does Mom Donna (Coleen Sexton) — former lead of a female pop trio.

But a sneak peak at Donna’s diary suggests a few options to 20-year-old Sophie. So she secretly invites her three possible papas to her upcoming wedding to fiance Sky (Aidan Wharton) on the Mediterranean island where they all live.

The party, punctuated by songs including “Take a Chance on Me,” “S.O.S” and “Dancing Queen,” begins to grow, and each potential pa figures out pretty quickly — and comically — why Donna’s daughter might have invited them to visit roughly 20 years and nine months after their summer of love.

Only Donna remains clueless as to why her three former loves would all pick the same weekend to show up at her island tavern.

Actors Brian Sutherland, Dan Sharkey and Paul Castree shine as former suitors Sam, Dan and Paul, but this show really belongs to the female characters, who forge their own paths in life and remain strong, whatever the fates throw at them.

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And, of course, the cast’s other purpose is to sing and dance to ABBA music, while dressed in beach-friendly attire, accompanied by talented live musicians the whole way through.

The show, well directed by Patricia Wilcox, is a lot of fun if you’re in the mood for something light, entertaining and nostalgic. It’s the perfect show to watch after a dreary winter. It’s a 2 hour 20 minute vacation … with brief intermission.

Costumes, by Brenda Van Der Wiel, are beachy and playful or simple and casual depending on the gender and role of the wearer.

The set, by James Kronzer, may look like an uninspired rock pile when the show starts, but do not be fooled. With a few twists and turns, it has a lot of magic to reveal. Lighting by Paul Miller really sets it off, adding vibrant blue skies and sizzling sunsets.

If you are ready for something light and fun, PTC’s “Mamma Mia!” may just be the perfect play date. There’s plenty of time later to be serious and overthink things. The show runs through May 26. For more information, click here.

 

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