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'Mamma Mia' still fun and popular

By Allison Klamkin

The Broadway production of "Mamma Mia" recently celebrated its ninth anniversary at the Winter Garden Theatre. With the success of the 2008 film, "Mamma Mia" keeps bringing in audiences and continues to be one of Broadway's most popular shows.

"Mamma Mia" stars Broadway veteran Lisa Brescia as Donna Sheridan, single mom and owner of a small taverna on a Greek island. Her 20-year-old daughter, Sophie (Liana Hunt) is preparing to marry her fiancé, Sky (Corey Greenan) and wants nothing more than for her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is that Sophie has three possible fathers: Sam Carmichael (Timothy Booth), Bill Anderson (Patrick Boll) and Harry Bright (Clarke Thorell) from Donna's flings in the summer of 1979. She invents the solution when she invites all three of them to her wedding. Donna is upset to see her three former romances, while Sophie is confused because she thought she'd know her own father at first sight. After a series of crazy mishaps and misgivings, Sophie realizes that although she may never know who her real father is, Sam, Bill and Harry are each willing to accept her as their daughter. In the end she turns over her wedding to her mother and Sam.

Told using the music of Swedish pop group ABBA with hits such as "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia," and "Money, Money, Money," "Mamma Mia" is a light-hearted and fun show. The production is in fantastic shape, even after a lengthy nine-year run. Newest cast members Lisa Brescia, Liana Hunt and Clarke Thorell fit effortlessly into the cast, many of whom have been with the show for several years.

Brescia, who previously appeared on Broadway as Elphaba in "Wicked" and Amneris in "Aida" is excellent as Donna, a single mother who struggles to raise her daughter and run a business at the same time. Now an iconic role played by Meryl Streep in the 2008 film, Brescia gives a strong performance, with vocal and acting skills and comedic timing that make you say, "Meryl Streep who?" Brescia is hysterical in her scenes with Donna's best friends (and former back-up singers) Tanya (Judy McLane) and Rosie (Heidi Godt), and compelling in her look back on life before Sophie was engaged in "Slipping Through My Fingers."

Other new cast members, Liana Hunt and Clarke Thorell, are impressive in roles that can be somewhat forgettable. Hunt, who is making her Broadway debut, has a lovely voice and is warm and energetic on stage, without going over-the-top. Thorell, who appeared in the original cast of "Hairspray," has some great comedic moments as Harry Bright, one of Sophie's three possible fathers. Thorell and Brescia have a nice moment in Act two, reminiscing about the time they spent together in "Our Last Summer."

Other cast members are just as excellent and bring a nice energy into the high-impact show. Judy McLane and Heidi Godt steal every scene they're in as Donna's best friends - wealthy, three-time divorcée Tanya and cookbook author Rosie - while Timothy Booth and Patrick Boll are hilarious as Sam Carmichael and Bill Anderson, Sophie's other possible fathers who just can't figure out why they were invited to Sophie's wedding, as they have never met her.

"Mamma Mia" is still in great shape in its tenth year of performances at the Winter Garden Theatre. Although the show is no masterpiece, it's two and a half hours of pure fun and energy.

The show is full of memorable, well-known tunes and great performances from the large cast, and hopefully it will continue its successful run in the years to come.

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