“Mamma Mia!” is in Durham for its farewell tour, and it’s an ABBA-tastic sendoff for the fun, lively and bright musical.
“Mamma Mia!” has made its third and final visit to the Durham Performing Arts Center, opening Friday and continuing through Sunday, May 7. The DPAC audience on Friday was ripe for the celebration, occasionally singing along and moving to the grooves of the 1970s Swedish band that had such hits as “Dancing Queen,” “Take A Chance On Me,” “Super Trouper” and of course, “Mamma Mia.”
A few times during the first act on opening night, cast microphones didn’t quite pick up their voices during songs, but every song was still enjoyable. The orchestra gave a stellar performance of the music, and the cast had great chemistry and comedic timing. In particular, Betsy Padamonsky was delightful as Donna, the taverna-owning mother of the bride on a Greek island. Cashelle Butler is hilarious as Tanya, as is Sarah Smith as Rosie. Tanya and Rosie are Donna’s best friends visiting for the wedding of Donna’s daughter Sophie (Lizzie Markson). Another trio on the island are the three former flames of Donna invited by Sophie to determine which is her father — Shai Yammanee as Sam, Andrew Tebo as Harry and Marc Cornes as Bill.
For as many songs as “Mamma Mia!” fits into the show, you’d think there wouldn’t be much dialogue but in fact there is, and somehow the songs are the added performance to scenes already filled with jokes that combine sexual innuendo with slapstick humor, especially in scenes with Tanya and Rosie.
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“Mamma Mia!” is just a fun show, even as it acknowledges the seriousness of Donna raising Sophie alone and Sophie wondering who her father is. There are universal experiences in the show, but delivered in a lighter way with really superb use of color and light in the costume and scenic design. What has made “Mamma Mia!” such a success over the years, beyond the ABBA music, is the feeling it creates in the room, even in as large a venue as DPAC.
Given that this is the last time the national tour of “Mamma Mia!” will come to town, it’s worth going this weekend. It’s a fun escape. And don’t run to your car at the bows — you’ll want to stick around to the very end to “dig it, the dancing queen.”
GO & DO:
WHAT: “Mamma Mia!” national tour
WHEN: Through Sunday, May 7
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham