Mamma Mia, here I go again… my my, how can I forget you?
Forgive me. I try not to sing it but every time I hear the words “Mamma Mia”, I just can’t control the sudden outcry of music within me!….my my how can I forget you!
When In Manila and you’re dying to see the number one show to hit Broadway, head on over to CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) and grab some tickets to go watch Mamma Mia!
Before anything else, I warn you that this post may contain some spoilers. I’ll try not to mention anything but the excitement and fulfillment is just too much to handle on my own!
Orchestra, row S. I arrived at the Cultural Center of the Philippines just a few minutes before the show began.
Instead of the usual show stopper first scene in most plays, Mamma Mia began with the very reason it was created… the music of Abba. Instrumental music taken from a variety of Abba’s songs was played before the first scene was shown. As simple as it was to most, I felt that the music played at the beginning was a real teaser and the perfect opening for the show.
The stage was perfect. It had 2 tavern like structures that rotate and a few extra props. It was kept simple yet beautiful. Almost all scenes revolved around this simple setup and it worked perfectly well!
Sophie Sheridan, played by Charlotte Wakefield enters the stage singing the chorus of the song “I had a dream” in acapella as she drops off the 3 wedding invites for her 3 potential fathers – Sam, Bill and Harry. Her 2 best friends Ali and Lisa, played by Rosie Heath and Tasha Taylor Johnson then cut her song with their wacky and playful characters as the three friends talk about Donna’s (Sophie’s mom) while reading her intriguing diary entries – DOT,DOT,DOT. “Honey, honey, how he thrills me AHA!” I loved how there were only three girls on stage that time and yet it felt as if the stage was full. They were able to properly maximize their bodies and the stage to their advantage!
After the song, the stage quickly rotated and it was Donna’s turn to strut her stuff. The role of Donna Sheridan was portrayed perfectly by Sara Poyzer! Donna and best friends Rosie (Jenny Dale) and Tanya (Kate Graham) reunite and chit chat! The 3 characters played were so alive and animated! They were just so full of life and energy that it was difficult to turn away. Back in my days of theater, our director would always tell us to use the entire stage and maximize the space. Regardless if the scene was just on one corner, we had to use our bodies to somehow enlarge everything and make the entire stage part of the act. These 3 girls did just that, and every scene was well executed. I loved how even dramatic or sad moments such as when they sang the song “Chikitita” became less heavy and even funny because of their movements and pretend re-enactments of their childhood days.
“Money, Money, Money! Must be funny, it’s a rich man’s world…” I never really appreciated this song until I saw the cast perform it today. The song started out at one corner of the stage with a few extras singing from the left. Out of no where, more people come in to join the song until finally they are all packed together in the center. They face the audience at different levels – some were kneeling, others were slouched and still others just standing. They had their arms outstretched and slowly crept closer and closer to the audience as they sang the song. They all moved so gracefully that they no longer seemed like individual characters but as one whole group riding an invisible car heading toward the audience. This was one of my favorite scenes simply because of how they performed it.
Another thing I noticed during the play is how the extras, or the people in the chorus were often shown during their singing parts. Sometimes, they would just be seated on a table while singing; and other times they would be with the main cast. When they sang the song “Mamma Mia” the chorus would even pop their heads from behind the tavern as they sang their lines! It was a really cute scene to see as all we saw from the audience area were singing heads!
“Lay all your love on me”
Sophie and Sky (played by David Roberts) have a walk on the beach. Sophie wants to admit what she’s done with her 3 dads but before anything, Sky’s friends enter the scene in their diver outfits and carry him away. I loved how they danced with their flippers! They all looked like purple penguins dancing on stage. It was adorable.
Oh, and by the time the boys were done diving, they were already doing another song number. This time the boys were no longer wearing their purple suites, instead, they were topless! I’m sorry I have to say this but they were HOT!
I also enjoyed their performance when singing “Gimme Gimme Gimme”. It was more their acting and the way the scene was delivered than the song itself. The same stage setup was simply rotated and the lights started flashing – turning the simple tavern into a club party! In these scenes and several others, the cast made use of freeze motion. In the middle of the song, everyone would suddenly stop except the few characters speaking during the moment. Sometimes, instead of completely freezing the scene, they would simply go in slow motion. So while 2 characters go up front to deliver their lines, the rest of the cast are dancing in slow motion in the background. It was a really good trick! Makes you feel like you were really there and are too focused on a particular person that everything else is just in the background.
Besides the simple and beautiful stage setup, the multitalented cast and the wonderful music and scenes; I also noticed the deceiving lighting! I’m not sure how many people noticed it, but on scenes supposedly set in the morning, the stage lighting would be somewhat dim. Shadow of tree leaves or window blinds would even be seen on the tavern walls! It gives the audience the idea that it’s around 6 in the morning as the sun just came out! On another scene supposedly set in the afternoon, the lights seemed really bright! It looked like the scorching hot sun was directly upon them.
Finally, the musical ends with the most awaited wedding. Prior to the wedding itself, Rosie and Bill (Charles Daish) have a little rendezvous on stage! Rosie tries to seduce Bill into liking her! I felt she was really in character as she sang the song “Take a Chance on Me”. I also appreciated how the cast made each song their own. They did not copy the song exactly the way Abba sang it, instead, they added their own emotions and pauses to make it more personal.
As the play ended, the cast came out for their final bow as they sang the song Mamma Mia! I rarely see the audience give standing ovations here in the Philippines, not that the performances aren’t good but I think it’s just not part of the Filipino culture. However, while the cast sang Mamma Mia, the audience arose one by one! I even got goose bumps when the guy in front of me, who was either crippled or the like, tried to push himself up and sat on the arm rest just to cheer for the show! Just as we thought it was over, the cast sings the song Waterloo and ended the show with a bang!
Mamma Mia is definitely a show YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!!! So hurry and grab your tickets now before it’s too late!
Performance Dates: January 24 to February 19, 2012
Saturday & Sunday 3.00 PM
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
& Sunday 8.00 PM
Friday & Saturday 8.00 PM
Saturday & Sunday
P7,000, 6,000, 5,000, 3,500, 2,000, 1,000
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday
P6,000, 5,000, 4,000, 3,000, 1,500, 750
Friday & Saturday
P7,000, 6,000, 5,000, 3,500, 2,000, 1,000
Book Online or in Person: www.TicketWorld.com.ph
Book by Phone: +(63.2).891.9999
For more info, check out the official website at: http://www.mamma-mia.com