Paramount's 'Mamma Mia!' embraces the glitz
If having a song stuck in your head for days is a sign that you enjoyed a musical, then Paramount Theatre's production of "Mamma Mia!" did its job.
"Mamma mia, here I go again. My my, how can I resist you?"
How indeed? Fun, frothy and full of hits made famous by the Swedish band ABBA, "Mamma Mia!" is a lighthearted Greek island romp set against an upbeat '70s soundtrack. Plot, from a book by Catherine Johnson, takes a back seat to pop, but less so than in some jukebox musicals.
Twenty-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Kiersten Frumkin) is getting married and wants her father there. She has no idea who he is, however. So she sneaks a peek at her mother Donna's diary and - without telling either her mom (Amy Montgomery) or fiancee (Ryan McBride) - invites all three contenders to the wedding.
The men show up thinking Donna, who owns a Greek taverna, wants them there. She shares the deepest history with Sam (Jeff Diebold), an architect who broke her heart. His departure years earlier sent her into the arms of both Bill (Steve O'Connell) and Harry (Michael Gillis).
Each assumes he's Sophie's dad, and all three want to walk her down the aisle. Meanwhile, Donna's not sure her daughter should get married at all.
Issues of identity and lost love can be heady stuff, but there's no need to take them too seriously when sequins trump secrets and conflicts erupt between splashy takes on "Dancing Queen" and "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme."
Director Jim Corti's cast is game for the glitz and, for the most part, spot-on.
Among the best are Jennifer Knox as cougar-esque Tanya and Sara Sevigny as Rosie, two-thirds of Donna's old act Donna and the Dynamos - a name that still fits. Both women deliver the laughs and the vocal goods. Knox's flirty dance with the much-younger Pepper (the delightful Aaron Patrick Craven) and Sevigny's playful "Take a Chance on Me" are highlights.
In fact, the supporting cast seemed stronger vocally on opening night than the leads. As Donna, Montgomery convincingly embodies the weariness of a woman who's worked hard over the years, but at times her singing lacked the power of her co-stars. And Frumkin exudes a sweet blend of wistfulness and energy as Sophie, though she struggled with more challenging notes.
Kevin Depinet's set pivots to reveal both interior and exterior of Donna's taverna, while Christopher Ash's clever projections evoke the blue of the sea, the pink-streaked sky and a succession of whimsical touches. And disco balls descend when needed - all the better to reflect the sequin-studded costumes of the finale.
★ ★ ★
Location: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora, (630) 896-6666,
Showtimes: 1:30 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday; through Oct. 30
Running time: Two hours, 20 minutes with intermission
Tickets: $44 to $59
Parking: Limited street parking and pay garage
Rating: For preteens and older, contains sexual situations and language