Reviewer: Janet I. Martineau
Venue: Midland Center for the Arts
It’s big! It’s bold! It’s beautiful!
And so, so much fun.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance presentation of “Mamma Mia!” opened Friday night at Midland Center for the Arts, a joint production of Pit and Balcony Community Theater of Saginaw, Bay City Players and Center Stage at Midland Center for the Arts.
100 people involved on stage and off stage. The first collaboration ever between the three community theaters — something many of us dreamed of for years. And thanks to director Tommy Wedge, an assistant professor of theater at Saginaw Valley State University, it clicked on all cylinders. They nailed it.
Only one complaint. At times the orchestra overpowered the singers.
It is difficult to review the production because everybody on stage and off was supremely solid and deserves a shout out. But space simply will not allow that. So suffice it to say everyone excelled in this seamless production that flowed
And we must also give one additional shout out – to the audience on Friday night. It was like a football game with the cheering and enthusiastic responses to the musical based on a collection of 25 ABBA songs telling the story of a young girl (the superb Karly Laskowski) seeking to find out which of three men is her father on her wedding weekend.
There is a sight gag that is absolutely hysterical. Men dancing in underwater flippers. Colorful pulsating lights decorating the beautiful multilevel stage. Steps leading from the pit onto the stage to indicate the long climb up to this inn on a hill in Greece. Occasionally the sound of lapping water and in a night scene twinkling stars.
Exquisite vocals by all of the cast members, particularly Holly Booth as the lead character, the mother of the bride. The emotion and power of her voice in “The Winner Takes It All” was goosebumpy. Followed by the hilarious vamping of Ann Russell-Lutenske in “Take a Chance on Me” as she seduces one of the possible fathers.
And the absolute stand out of all…. the choreography by out of town guest Jennifer Hopkins. It is a sight to behold. Constant movement and delightful execution by the ensemble as well as the leads. Flowing. Athletic. Using every inch of the set. So eye appealing.
Following its two weekends in Midland the show will move to student performances at Pit and Balcony.