MSMT's 'Mamma Mia' a visual treat

Posted Friday, August 12, 2016 in Culture

MSMT's 'Mamma Mia' a visual treat

by Gina Hamilton

Miss disco days? If you like the music of ABBA, the Swedish pop band, you will automatically love MSMT's new offering, 'Mamma Mia', which is currently being produced at the Pickard Theater on Bowdoin College's campus. Mamma Mia will run until August 27.

The story is light on meaning. It was written by a housewife who loved ABBA music, and surprisingly, the amateur's first and only musical became a runaway Broadway hit. On the eve of her wedding, a young girl, Sophie Sheridan (Chelsea Williams), confesses to her friends that she has invited the three men who have a chance of being her biological father, without telling her mother. Her mother Donna (Laura Mufson) has kept the secret of Sophie's father from her for 20 years.

Donna's best friends Tanya (Jennifer Swiderski) and Rosie (Mylinda Hull) arrive to help her with the celebration, offering comic relief throughout the show.

The three possible dads include Harry Bright (Peter Simon Hilton), Bill Austin (Aaron Galligan-Stierle), and Sam Carmichael (Ian Knauer). Sophie's intended, Sky, is played by Neil Starkenberg.

When Donna becomes aware of the three potential fathers at her Greek island taberna, she becomes tense and angry; one of the potential fathers, Sam, left her to marry his fiancee after a summer of intense love. She has less animosity toward the others, who were, for her, at least, rebound summer lovers, and neither of them was interested in a long term relationship, either.

When the wedding day dawns, Sophie asks her mother to walk her down the aisle instead one of the putative fathers. 

In the end, the young couple makes a new choice, and the older couple -- Sam and Donna -- make a new choice for themselves as well.

Lauren Mufson's incredible voice makes the vocal part of the show. The dancing, choreographed by Mark Martino, is often fun and superb. But the real winner of the show is the lighting and scenery.

Set on a Greek island, the lighting and projections made it possible to transport oneself to a magical beach community. Paul Black, Lighting Designer, and Dan Efros and Ryan Joyner, Projections Designers, carried the show. Projected images of sand and sea and sky shift and change over time, giving the audience the sense of being moved, not only to a distant locale, but through time as well.

If you're an ABBA fan, or just fancy a two-hour trip to the Greek islands, don't miss 'Mamma Mia'. Tickets are going fast, but may be available at msmt.org.

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