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NY Theatre Guide Review: ‘Mamma Mia!’ at John W. Engeman Theater

NY Theatre Guide

July 26, 2016

Kristen Weyer

 

The John W. Engeman Theater opens its 10th season with Mamma Mia!  This feel-good musical, with a book by Catherine Johnson, is written around the music of Swedish singing group ABBA.  With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and occasionally Stig Anderson, this show features such classic hits as “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” and naturally “Mamma Mia,” to name only a few.  Directed and choreographed by Antoinette DiPietropolo, Mamma Mia!  is a fun and energetic good time

Taking place on an idyllic Greek island, this romantic comedy has a slightly twisted, yet very humorous plotline.  Sophie (Hannah Slabaugh) is getting married, and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle.  The problem is, she has no idea who he is.  Her mother, Donna (Michelle Dawson), has raised her as a single mom her entire life. Not letting this deter her, Sophie secretly reads her mom’s old diary and discovers that she has three potential fathers!  So unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie invites all three men to her wedding, hoping to discover which one of them is her father.  Could it be handsome architect Sam Carmichael (Sean Hayden)?  The intrepid adventurer Bill Austin (Jeff Williams)?  Or perhaps the straight-laced London banker Harry Bright (Frank Vlastnik)?  When all three accept the invites, returning to the island, and woman, they haven’t seen in twenty years…well what could possibly go wrong?  As confusion and comedy reign supreme, audiences of varying ages will enjoy the amusing antics and marvelous music of this terrific show.

The Engeman’s production of Mamma Mia! is very well done.  A beautiful set by DT Willis, with just the right touch of blue, creates the perfect backdrop for this Greek comedy.  While DiPietropolo shows great talent in both direction and choreography throughout the production, it is quite noticeable during “Money, Money, Money,” and “Lay All Your Love On Me,” which are particularly good.  The dance numbers are pure fun, and the fabulous costuming by Tristan Raines ranges from classic beachy, to outrageously enjoyable throwbacks to the ‘70s. Music Director James Olmstead and the entire band, do a superb job with this fast-paced score.

The ensemble is full of talented dancers and singers.  Hannah Slabaugh and Jacob Dickey make a cute couple, with good chemistry as Sophie and Sky.  Michelle Dawson gives a convincing portrayal of the beleaguered Donna, while also boasting some impressive vocals.  Heather Patterson King and Robin Lounsbury are very funny as Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie.  Sean Hayden does a wonderful job portraying Sam’s trepidation of once again seeing Donna.  Jeff Williams’ laid back performance of Bill is perfect for his character, and his believable Australian accent adds that extra touch.  In contrast is Frank Vlastnik as the proper Harry, whose desire to loosen up and be spontaneous is endearing.

With lots of laughs, and fantastic fun, Mamma Mia! is an entertaining escape for the whole family.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

Advisory: Sexual references and innuendo.

Mamma Mia! runs until September 11, 2016 and is presented at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport. For more information, click here.

 

Read online: www.nytheatreguide.com/2016/07/theatre-review-mamma-mia-at-john-w-engeman-theater

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