Once again making a triumphant return to Chicago is Mamma Mia!, now playing at the Rosemont Theatre (5400 N. River Road, Rosemont) through Sunday, January 24th. With a national touring cast that is as energetic as they were talented, Mamma Mia is a wild ride full of catchy ABBA songs, laughs and well-choreographed dancing.
The story revolves around Donna Sheridan and her daughter Sophie (well-acted and sung by Liana Hunt). Taking place on a Greek isle, Donna has raised Sophie on her own, while, at the same time, running a lodging resort. With a marriage in her not-so-distant future, Sophie is determined to find her true father before becoming a bride. After reading her mother’s 1979 diary, Sophie concludes that there are three possibilities in which she decides to invite them all to her wedding, unknown to her mother. Naturally, when Donna’s three ex-lovers show up at the same time, all hell breaks loose.
As the lyrics of Abba songs are brilliantly used throughout the story, it’s the music that keeps it flowing. Songs like “S.O.S” are cleverly broken into male and female parts, in this case creating a heated conversation between Donna and ex-boyfriend Sam Carmichael. Over twenty ABBA songs are used, but ABBA fan or not, one would be hard-pressed not to enjoy Mamma Mia! thanks to its creative and vibrant renditions of each already fantastic number. Songs such as “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, “Take a Chance on Me” and “Waterloo” are majestically brought to the stage in a manner nothing short of the original fun they were intended to be when written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus
Michelle Dawson plays Donna Sheridan, and, after seeing this production multiple times – with many different Donna’s, I could honestly say she is the strongest vocally. Dawson had already won the crowd over with her voice during the first half of the show, but really commanded audience respect during her performance of “Winner Takes it All”. Rachel Tyler and Kittra Wynn Coomer are also superb as Donna’s two best friends, Tanya and Rosie, not only singing their way through the roles successfully, but by bringing the necessary physical comedy needed in making each character effectively funny. John Hemphill, Martin Kildare and Chicago’s own Michael Aaron Linder played Donna’s three ex-beaus Sam Carmichael, Harry Bright and Bill Austin, and rounded out an already amazing cast with all-around solid performances.