Review: Mamma Mia on Broadway

Last Wednesday night I saw the smashing-hit musical Mamma Mia, currently playing at the Winter Garden theatre on Broadway. This was my second time visiting the house, and you can read my previous review here for more insights. However, this time it was different. If during my first visit to the Greek island I had liked the show, I now ended up loving it. Maybe it was the cast, the music or simply the night but everything was really good during the performance.

It is now very clear that old ABBA tunes are still kicking in after all these years and that people keep enjoying them thanks to this musical. The audience left the theatre with nothing but big smiles after dancing and singing along throughout two hours of excellent entertainment.

As for the cast, everyone was in its official role except for Tanya, who was played by Stacia Fernandez (SB), instead of by Judy McLane, and Father Alexander, who was interpreted by Timothy Booth. Over the last couple of months Mamma Mia has undergone some changes in its cast, but surprisingly it really doesn’t show. All actors were very strong in their parts, including the entire ensemble that conveyed lots of energy throughout the entire show. As I said, everything was pretty much perfect.

I’ve been following Lisa Brescia since she played Elphaba in Wicked a couple of years ago. She was perfect for that role but I now realize that she was, in fact, born to play Donna Sheridan. Lisa was absolutely fantastic. She understood the character to perfection and Donna was, for the first time, a true character brought to life. Her voice is shaped beyond perfection, her diction was impeccable and her interpretation of all the pieces was outstanding, leaving no doubt that she deserves, more than anyone, the part. But above all, Brescia was successful at conveying the fun of playing Donna and it showed how she enjoys every second of the show. Ms. Brescia has brought Donna to such a new dimension that I dare say no other performer can truly match-add a deep and renewed spirit to Mamma Mia. On the other hand, her daughter, Sophie Sheridan, was certainly no way behind. Young and talented Liana Hunt, showed why she was taken from the National Tour to the main stage on Broadway to reproduce the part. Her performance was full of detail, and she played Sophie in a brilliant way. Her vocals were strong and she was stupendous in all parts. One can clearly tell that Ms. Hunt has a tremendous future and I can’t wait to see a lot more from her as she follows her path towards becoming a true Broadway star. Brescia and Hunt show a real chemistry, much like a real mom-daughter relationship, becoming a dynamite duet. However, I would have loved to hear a little bit more of Liana during the show. The sound system seemed to me a little bit low at some parts and I couldn’t hear and clearly understand her lines and beautiful voice. Still, she truly represents all the sweetness and appeal of Sophie, creating a solid and shining performance.

The Dynamos are obviously supporting roles in the story, but let me tell you that they didn’t feel like that at all. Both performers were exceptional and did a terrific job. On the one hand, Stacia Fernandez didn’t seem like the understudy. I’ve previously seen Ms. McLane in that role and despite the fact that they play the role differently, I personally think that the chemistry between Stacia and Gina Ferrall (Rosie) was beyond splendid. Their comic timing was wonderful and the audience rewarded them with a standing ovation at the end.

As per the Fathers, they are all three simply appropriate for the part but none of them really brought any sparkle onto the stage. I would have expected a lot more from them, bearing their career in mind. Corey Greenan, Sky, did a solid work and he proved why together with Liana they come across as a very charming couple on stage – kudos to him.

Last but not least, the rest of the ensemble. They acted down to the last detail  and they truly showed the amount of hours of preparation, helping Mamma Mia become one of the top shows currently playing on Broadway.  They all did a timely and colorful choreography with solid vocals and a proper back-up singing too.

On a whole, I would say Mamma Mia is an enjoyable show. It’s perfect for those seeking a musical where the entire family can have fun and be a part of it. Mamma Mia has proven to me once again why it is the awarded show it once was. Of course, much success also depends on the cast and let me assure you that both Ms. Brescia and Ms. Hunt will bring this show once more to the must-see musicals on Broadway.


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