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NY1 Review: "Mamma Mia!"

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After two years of dazzling theatre-goers in London and recently touring North America, the Abba inspired musical "Mamma Mia!" opened on Broadway Thursday night.

NY1's Roma Torre has her review of the show:


Mamma Mia defies scrutiny.

If you attempt to analyze this mega hit from London, it'll fall apart.

It's hokey, implausible and silly. The Abba music, despite its popularity, is mediocre and many are likely to think: What's the big deal?

"Mamma Mia!" is a good-natured, inoffensive, non-edgy, feel-good musical. Its biggest draw: the driving disco rhythms and familiar ballads of 70's Swedish band ABBA.

Set on a Greek island on the eve of a wedding, "Mamma Mia!" has a positive vibe that pervades the Wintergarden Theatre, bringing theatre-goers to their feet to dance with the music.

It's the kind of unsophisticated, hip fun that made "Grease" such a big hit. Both shows fail to break any new ground or reach any heights of artistry, yet they have broken records.

Still, audiences, seeking little more than escapist fun, are returning night after night to relive the thrill.

The cast is an interesting mix of young talent and more mature, seasoned performers - the veterans have far more success.

Canadian actor Louise Pitre plays Donna, a hip, single mother of 20-year-old Sophie.

Played sweetly by Tina Maddigan, Sophie is desperate to find out the identity of her father, information Donna won't - or can't - reveal.

Sophie, who is getting married, invites three of her mother's former boyfriends to the wedding, hoping one of them will turn out to be her father.

Pitre is a dynamo onstage. Even as she overdoes it, she delivers a winning and moving performance.

The three men carve out some distinctive characters of their own, with the sheer force of talent and stage presence.

But it's Judy Kaye and Karen Mason who steal the show. As Donna's former backup singer buddies, they burn up the stage with their outstanding, pull-out-all-the stops performances.

The concept of the show - a plot that was written around ABBA's existing tunes - doesn't always work. In fact, some of the songs seemed wedged into the story with a crow bar.

But none of that really matters.

Amid the phenomenon that is "Mamma Mia!" who could have guessed some old disco tunes could prove so appealing?

Audiences should come prepared to check their cynicism at the door and become dancing queens, boogying giddily into the night.
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