Mamma Mia! North American tour cast

Earlier this week, I attended the opening of Mamma Mia at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Mamma Mia’s had a very successful run over the years, with over 45 million people worldwide enjoying this smash hit. This production is directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

The house was packed with an all-ages audience. Once the houselights went down, the first of this two-act musical was quickly underway through bright stage lighting effects and a montage of ABBA’s music.

The story revolves around a mother and daughter living on a Greek island. Sung through the music of ABBA, a story emerges about marriage, connections, lost love and new opportunity. This was my first Mamma Mia stage production, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did have a few observations.

Mamma Mia! North American tour cast

The set design is well executed. The modular set revolves while lights and trees often descend from above to correspond with a very tightly choreographed show. In fact, my favourite aspect of the production is the choreography.

The timing was solid and appeared as though no one had missed a cue throughout the 2-1/2 hour performance. I also enjoyed the dancing, though one or two characters get carried away at one point, mostly showing off their moves rather than keeping in line with the story.

The stage lighting is also beautifully executed, working in tandem with the ever-changing costumes and cast.

The strongest vocals came from the female leads. Kaye Tuckerman is superb as the lead role, playing the mother to daughter Sophie (Chloe Tucker). I was also impressed with the two other women that formed the trio of middle aged women reunited for the wedding.

Rosie (Mary Callanan) steals several moments with her wit and some of the costumes that come off nearly comical on her overabundant figure.

Mamma Mia! North American tour cast

Alison Ewing’s blond bombshell Tanya plays the part to a t, showing the world that three marriages can still keep a gal looking her best, plastic surgery and all.

The three main male roles (playing Sophie’s three possible Dads, also invited to the wedding) aren’t as strong during the musical numbers as I’d hoped they’d be. If these three actors have strong vocal tendencies, they weren’t given the opportunity to show them here.

In addition, it seemed out of place to leave in female back-up vocals during a couple of numbers sung only by the males.

The story and script will appeal to all ages. Sometimes the jokes are meant for a tween audience, making this truly a play that your children will also enjoy.

Overall, Mamma Mia is a smart production, and hats off to writing an entire story encompassing ABBA tunes!

Mamma Mia! continues at the Queen E Theatre through August 21.

Photos courtesy of Joan Marcus.

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