Mamma Mia cast

What could be more idyllic than marrying your love on a small Greek island? In The Arts Club Theatre’s latest production of Mamma Mia!, the story begins with the bride (Sophie) sending out invitations to three men (Sam, Harry and Bill). All three could possibly be her father.

Sophie’s mother (Donna), a single, independent woman who’s built a taverna/hotel here, has no idea what’s about to unfold.

Warren Kimmel, Jay Hindle, Michael Torontow
[Warren Kimmel as Bill, Jay Hindle as Harry, Michael Torontow as Sam]

As the day draws near, Sophie’s two besties arrive and the drama builds as the three men do as well, not entirely sure why they’ve come to the island, only that there’s an upcoming wedding.

Through ABBA’s well-loved tunes, the 2 1/2-hour musical unfolds and builds momentum as the audience gets to know the characters on the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

Stephanie Roth
[Stephanie Roth]

Stephanie Roth’s Donna is a bold, yet fun lady who’s been through the wringer when it comes to men. Her voice is sometimes drowned out by the cast; towards the end of the show, she really belts it out in order to be heard, and does so marvelously.

Michelle Bardach has a beautiful voice as a young bride who’s ready to approach life, perhaps a bit differently as her mother did.

Cathy Wilmot, Stephanie Roth, Irene Karas Loeper2
[Cathy Wilmot, Stephanie Roth, Irene Karas Loeper]

A great part of this show is watching the three ex-band mates get reacquainted. Cathy Wilmot (Rosie) can poke fun at herself, having put on more than a few pounds over the years.

A complete 180 of Rosie is Irene Karas Loeper’s Tanya, a diva in heels who’s lived the high life, bouncing through wealthy men — and three unsuccessful marriages.

Mamma Mia cast

Loeper gets to show off her talent during Does Your Mother Know, while flirting with young bar employee Pepper (Paul Almeida).

Cathy Wilmot, Stephanie Roth, Irene Karas Loeper

Via Chiquitita, Rosie and Tanya help pull Donna back on her feet once the cat’s out of the bag.

As act one closes, we’re left wondering which of the three men will walk Sophie down the aisle, but by the middle of the second act, it no longer matters. The twist to this musical tale is fun to watch unfold.

You’ll laugh at some pretty campy moments, particularly as Sophie’s to-be husband, Sky (played by actor/model/personal trainer Stuart Barkley), gets his day with the dudes.

Mamma Mia at the Arts Club

A couple of songs are performed with one or two main characters on stage, and at times, the cast singing the chorus backstage create an overpowering soundscape. One particular moment is when Sam (perhaps the most likely to be Sophie’s Dad) sings Knowing Me, Knowing You. It’s distracting (or funny, as a couple of nearby audience members saw it) to hear the women singing those notes as he’s up there on stage.

Or maybe this is meant to add a humorous poke to the mood.

The summery Greek vibe is in full force with sets containing white-washed buildings, blue skies and a tiled floor, courtesy of set designer David Roberts. Adding to the atmosphere is Robert Sondergaard’s lighting that wonderfully illuminates the night.

Mamma Mia at the Arts Club

Valerie Easton has done an admirable job as director and choreographer. The scenes are lively (with a six-piece orchestra performing backstage) and the cast look like they’re having a blast up there as the audience sings along.

And speaking of sing-along, ABBA super fans should note that on Saturday, July 28, both 2 pm and 8 pm shows are sing-along performances.

Cathy Wilmot, Stephanie Roth, Irene Karas Loeper

Costume designer Alison Green is on-point, from simple summery ensembles to those bright and shiny ABBA costumes.

We won’t spoil the fun but that final number is a sheer joy to watch and sing along to as the cast part with the audience for the evening, performing a few of the Swedish supergroup’s biggest hits.

Mamma Mia! is set to become the Arts Club’s longest-running production. Directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton, Mamma Mia! continues at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through August 12.

Photos by David Cooper.

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