I love a live show, particularly a fun and rousing musical. So, when my wife approached me to see a local version of beloved "Mamma Mia!" at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, New York, I jumped at the chance.
"Mamma Mia," of course, features the songs of ABBA, one of my favorite '70s bands (and yours too, I bet, if you are age 50 or older). But anyone in those coveted younger demographics not familiar with "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," "The Winner Take All," "Take a Chance on Me" and, of course, "Mamma Mia!" should book their seats today for these two jam-packed hours of pure escapist entertainment.
The John W. Engeman Theater is one of those quaint and historic meeting grounds from yesteryear riddled with charm and nostalgia; reminiscent of the old Regency Theater on the upper West Side in Manhattan. The set, designed predominantly in shades of blue and green, equates the perfect tone for this uplifting musical tale. And...ka-ching! ka-ching!...staying local meant I could both avoid the hassle of traveling to Times Square in Manhattan and saving what amounts to a considerable chunk of change.
Never underestimate the value of these local productions.
In case you are not familiar with the storyline, "Mamma Mia" unfolds on a Greek Island when, on the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island 20 years before. The mother, never married, was intent on being an independent woman, and her young daughter, marrying at the young age of 20, seizes the opportunity to get some answers.
Hannah Slabaugh as young Sophie Sheridan possesses the sweetness and wonderment necessarily for the role. Paired with Jacob Dickey as Sky, you root for this young couple, who ultimately step aside for Michelle Dawson as Sophie's Mama Donna Sheridan when she finds true love in the man that slipped away. Both Slabaugh and Dawson are highly sufficient and musically adept leading this cast of over one dozen, as is Sean Hayden as Donna's long-lost love Sam. And Frank Vlastnik as Felix Unger-ish Harry, one of the potential three Dads, adds another tone to the diversified mix. But it was Heather Patterson King and Robin Lounsbury as Donna's lifelong friends Tanya and Rosie, reunited for the nuptials, who steal the proverbial show, so to speak, lighting up the room in every moment.
Lounsbury's Rosie finding her own love care of Jeff Williams as Bill, potential father No. 3 of Sophie, was the icing on this tasty musical re-telling that sent the audience up on their feet singing and dancing along with the cast by the truly grand finale.
The rest of the ensemble was filled with an array of talented dancers and singers.
For a pure fun and entertainment, coupled with a slice of small town America in picturesque Northport, New York, take a chance at "Mamma Mia!" at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport (which runs for just three more weeks).
For more information, contact the theater directly at 631/261-2900 or visit www.EngemanTheater.com.