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“Mamma Mia” started the 2013-2014 theatre season at the Arsht Center in Miami last night to a packed house just as it has played to packed houses in South Florida 5 different times before. It has been playing on Broadway since 2001 and has been seen in 40 countries on 5 continents done in 16 different languages, always bringing the audiences into the aisles singing and dancing to the tunes of ABBA!

The story takes place on a Greek Island where a single mother, Donna, ( Georgia Kate Haege) is about to see her daughter Sophie, (Chelsea Williams) get married to Sky, (Chris Stevens). Donna has invited her old friends Tanya, (Gabrielle Mirabella) and Rosie, (Carly Sakolove) who, 21 years ago entertained as a singing trio. Unknown to Donna, Sophie has invited 3 men, after reading her mother’s diary, to find out which one is her father. Sam, ( Don Winsor) is an American architect, Bill (Michael Colavolpe) a Swedish writer and Harry (Mark A. Harmon) a British banker.

The songs of ABBA, written by Stig Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, including such hits as “Dancing Queen”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Money, Money, Money” plus the title tune and 18 other songs provide the music. The book, by Catherine Johnson, is pretty risque at points which may have raised questions for the parents, or grandparents, who brought the many children in the audience.

The sound system was a rarity in the theatre today, crystal clear, allowing each song sung and spoken by the cast to be heard without any effort. The great sound system also allowed for many additional pre recorded songs, both by cast and band, to be heard.

The antics of Allison Ewing (Tanya) and Mary Callanan (Rosie) provided the spot on humor with the aid of the three would be fathers. The ensemble were energetic, in good voice, while Georgia Kate Haege sold “The Winner Takes It All” to a responsive audience. The role of Donna is usually the star of any “Mamma Mia!” production and though Haege held her own it was Chelsea Williams, as Sophie,who stood out for bringing more to the role than just playing a part to set up the story. She and Stevens make charming, believable lovers.

It is the encore when the ladies come out in their disco outfits, and the cast joins them to do a medley of ABBA songs, that gets the audience to dance, sing,clap and cheer. When the three male leads come on stage in their disco outfits the roar can be heard all through South Florida! Everyone leaves the Arsht Center with a big smile and more than one attempting a disco dance step as they leave the theatre!

1st act 1 hour and 5 minutes intermission 20 minutes 2nd act 1 hour and 5 minutes

Next show in the Broadway Across America series at the Arsht Center is “Stomp” coming December 4.

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