Mamma Mia in Vegas
It has been nearly three months now since we returned from our Las Vegas vacation, and I’m still catching up on stories… Pathetic, I know. But hey, I’ve been busy. Trying to snag a literary agent for my novel. Designing tuition calculation algorithms for my employer. Shopping for diamond engagement rings…
But the real truth is that I have been slow to write this review because I’m afraid I’ll catch hell from old friends who already nave noticed some chinks in my masculinity. In the last six months I’ve reviewed “women’s literature” and critiqued Miss America and talked about my new obsession with hot tea…and the list goes on.
Today I’m here to rave about Mamma Mia!, the musical featuring the songs of ABBA. You can read its history here. How we ended up there is pretty simple: it’s the show playing at the Mandalay Bay, where the Maine State Lottery sent us in January. Included in our package were two tickets. Third row from the front, as it turned out… Spoiled me forever for show tickets. How I’ll go back to sitting in the nosebleeds, I can’t say.
My beef with musical theatre has typically been that showtunes don’t cut it for me. As readers who have read my other blog or my columns at Being There Magazine will know, I love music from many genres. But traditional musical theatre fare will never make it onto my iPod.
My opinions on the subjects oftened last summer, when Keryn took me to see Rent for my birthday. I thought it was great—in large part because the music was so good. Turns out that maybe what blocks me from enjoying musical theatre is that I wouldn’t like most of those songs if I heard them on the radio.
Mamma Mia! is an interesting phenomenon because the songs came first, and the story was built around a clever arrangement of those songs. That the story proves cogent given this approach is a testament to the writers. (Last week I read a review of the new musical based on the music of Queen; apparently they didn’t mange to do quite such a bang-up job there).
That isn’t to say that it isn’t a rather fantastic story. Young Sophie lives on a Greek island, and she’s set to marry her boyfriend. She doesn’t know her father, but she stumbled upon her mother’s old diary, where she learned that it might be one of three men. Remarkably enough, she has their contact information, thus enabling her to fire off three invites (unbeknownst to her mother, a former pop star, now hotel matron). Imagine the chaos when all three men show up… and one of them has never fallen out of love with Sophie’s mother!
The show is funnier than hell from beginning to end, and the songs stand up remarkably well. Going into the show, I knew only two ABBA songs: “Dancing Queen” and “Take A Chance On Me.” But by the end I had to grudgingly admit that “S.O.S.,” “Knowing Me Knowing You,” and “Voulez Vous” are pretty remarkable pop songs.
The performances were exceptional across the board, and Keryn and I spent a long time raving about the show… I give a solid gold recommendation to everyone, whether you think you enjoy musicals or not. Give Mamma Mia! a chance.
If you're in Vegas, check here for the Mandalay Bay box office. Even though we went for free, I'd hazard that it's more than worth the price of admission.