Favorite

‘Mamma Mia!’ 

Oct. 7, Robinson Center Music Hall.

It's best not to think too hard or too long about “Mamma Mia!,” which played to a nearly packed house at Robinson Center Music Hall last Tuesday night. This is the second time the ABBA-stuffed musical has slapped on the spandex for Little Rock audiences and this run comes after the huge-selling adaptation for the big screen. At some point you would think the thirst for this jukebox musical silliness would be satisfied — but it hasn't happened yet.

When you concentrate too much on “Mamma Mia!” — specifically on the book concocted by Catherine Johnson — things start to bug. Sure, one of the first lines from the opening number mentions “fairy tale” but the whole plot — young girl on faraway Greek island clashes with her independent mother as she sifts for her father among three candidates before marching down the aisle to be wed — strains on your willing suspension of disbelief.

Also, there's a reason most jukebox musicals toss out story of any kind in favor of presenting the hits in a concert-like format. It's hard to make the plot fit the songs. “Mamma Mia!” is better at this than it even has a right to be, yet “The Name of the Game” isn't about a father and daughter being estranged and “Chiquitita” — well, I don't even know if ABBA knows what that song is about.

Even if you went in Tuesday night fresh from a frontal lobotomy, the production itself at times tried to push you away. In the first 15 minutes the lead performers weren't amplified enough or simply didn't sing loud enough to be heard over the orchestra. The situation got better and volume seemed to increase after the intermission. There were several awkward pauses where either the actors or the orchestra weren't paying attention or were waiting for somebody else to pick up the cue. At certain points you could see stagehands fiddling with something on the set while the performers were out front in the middle of a scene.

Despite this, Mamma Mia! did deliver ample joy amidst fizzy musical numbers. “Dancing Queen” never seems to grow old and “Super Trooper” is pop at its blissful best. But live theater often works because of performances and this production has two great ones. Rachel Tyler, a tall blond who has legs for forever, and Kittra Wynn Coomer, a stout woman with close-cropped hair, showed off impeccable comic timing. Tyler had her moment with “Does Your Mother Know” and Coomer, who couldn't cross the stage without setting off gales of laughter, had hers with “Take a Chance on Me.” In those happy moments, Mamma Mia! felt like the smartest and funniest show around.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Werner Trieschmann

  • 'Disfarmer': behind the camera

    The strange case of Arkansas photographer Disfarmer, subject of a new play opening this weekend.
    • Sep 25, 2014
  • Live Review: Eric Church and Dwight Yoakam at Verizon

    Apparently Dwight Yoakam’s acting career is sufficiently slack enough that Friday night saw him opening for bro-country kingpin Eric Church at Verizon Arena. Hollywood is taking Yoakam in small enough doses (he has a recurring part on CBS’s “Under the Dome”) that he can lend his considerable talents to country music, which currently can use any kind of flavor it can get.
    • Sep 15, 2014
  • Musical 'Shrek' succeeds, mostly

    If light family entertainment is your speed.
    • Nov 2, 2011
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation