Published April 4, 2019 online
Disneyland can move over. Evergreen Valley College Theater has just become “The Happiest Place On Earth” with San Jose Musical Theater’s production of the musical “Mamma Mia!”
The ABBA love fest gets younger every time it detonates itself for a nostalgic audience. For the “flower children” who were weaned on the ABBA music in the ‘70s, this is an elated time revisited. To the yuppies and the Generation X population that were born after the ABBA infusion feel when they are exposed to ABBA, thought they had discovered something fabulous and new, they become dedicated followers of the ageless group. The plot is interwoven around 22 ABBA hits and is an upbeat delight. The star of this show is without a doubt the music. (The show was written to the music and songs, not the usual other way around.)
The entire cast in this company is super energetic perfection with voices to match. The leads are pros of the first degree and belt out the music with a feeling of loving every minute they are immersed in the ebullience of the moment. There is nothing like watching a production where the cast is having as much fun as the audience. It’s infectious. Musical Director Ron Bowman leads a coordinated group that includes three keyboards that brings in a big orchestra sound.
This show is a simple example of the old adages that “less is more” and “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” No monstrous special effects, glitzy costumes or scenery, “Mamma Mia!” gives the audience well-trained talent with super voices in every aspect — and it’s sooo enjoyable.
The plot takes place on a small Greek island in the present. The story is sweet and simple and revolves around a wedding day. The bride, Sophie, (an outgoing talented Lindsay Sommers) wants her father to give her away. The problem: there are three possible fathers, so Sophie quietly invites all three under false pretenses. Mamma Donna ( an energetic extra talented, Bobbie Ltynn Ward), a single parent, must reluctantly confront the three men she hasn’t seen in 20 years. The story is really only a vehicle to bring ABBA hits like “Knowing Me, Knowing You,””Money, Money, Money,” “Super Trouper,” “I Do, I Do, I Do,” “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes All,” and the upbeat “Mamma Mia!” into the unlikely tale. The transitions and blending of story are well done, sometimes fittingly camp and the director Geoff Ward keeps the production moving at speedway pace.
In 1974 a young Swedish group in Brighton, England, won the Eurovision Song Contest and beat out Olivia Newton-John with a song called “Waterloo.” Their name ABBA comes from the first letter of the first names of the original group. At one time the chart-topping group had been offered a “billion” dollars to reunite after 25 years for a one hundred concert national tour. They politely declined. “Mamma Mia!” is still playing somewhere in London, and always somewhere in the world.
The book by Catherine Johnson with music and lyrics by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus brings back “Momma Mia” to the older crowd and keeps the entire audience young and old mesmerized with the ABBA sound.
Where: Evergreen Valley College, 3095 Yerba Buena Rd., San Jose
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes with 1 intermission
Through: April 13
For tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets./com/event/356808 or call 1-800-838-3006
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