Mamma Mia! – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Do you love the music of the Swedish group ABBA? Did you always fantasize about running off to a remote island in Greece? Does the thought of attending a wedding rev your soul? Then if yes is the answer, have I got a delightfully delicious musical for you. Head for the campus of the University of Connecticut to the Jorgensen Theatre where “Mamma Mia!” awaits you in all its musical splendor. Even if your knowledge of the music group ABBA is non-existent, the show will win your heart and your joy even before the overture is complete. But don’t waste time thinking about it as the fun only lasts until Saturday, June 22.

Dance down the aisle with the Connecticut Repertory in Storrs to catch this lively with a capital L smash hit musical “Mamma Mia!” with music and lyrics by ABBA musicians Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and book by Catherine Johnson.

Set on a mythical Greek island, the show is about a daughter Sophie, played by a delightful Kelly McCarty, who at 20 is about to marry. Her fervent wish is to have her father walk her down the aisle, but there’s one small problem. Her mother Donna, a determined and vivacious Jessica Hendy who runs the island taverna, has never spoken Sophie’s father’s name.

So the industrious and clever Sophie sends wedding invitations to the three candidates for fatherhood as determined by invading the privacy of her mom’s diary of twenty one years previously: an architect Sam (Bradley Dean), an Australian travel writer Bill (Jamie Colburn) and a proper British banker Harry (Rob Barnes). All three men accept the invitation they believe is from Donna and show up conveniently on the eve of Sophie’s nuptials to Sky (Mason Reeves).

Fortunately the unsuspecting Donna has the moral grounding of Tanya (Lauren Blackman) and Rosie (Jennifer Cody), the members of her old singing group, who literally and figuratively support her when the sparks of mistrust and accusations start to fly. The great ABBA songs like “Dancing Queen,” “The Name of the Game,” “S.O.S.,” “Thank You for the Music,” “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” and “The Winner Takes It All” and more than a dozen more, make this show sparkle with neon lights that spell Amazing, Bouncy, Beautiful, and Alive, in snappy and pulsating style, thanks to musical director Geraldine Anello. Kudos to Terrence Mann for directing this joyful experience, Tim Brown for a creative set, Fan Zhang for colorful costuming and Mary Ann Lamb and Jessica Walker for choreography extraordinaire.

For tickets ($48 and up) call the Jorgensen Theatre, at Storrs at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Once upon a time a girl prays to have her father at her side for her wedding day. Is it a blessing or a curse when her prayers are answered three times over? Catch the joy of “Mamma Mia!” and discover for yourself. Wedding gifts are optional.

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