“Mamma Mia” from Mountain Community Theater is carried by strong female roles – Santa Cruz Sentinel


It has been a “Mamma Mia” extravaganza all year round, with many theater companies trying their musical skills on the rather soft story of a resilient woman and her daughter who live on a Greek island and run a small taverna. . But as the girl prepares for her next wedding, she discovers an old diary of her mother and invites three men from her mother’s past to her wedding – believing one of them must be her father.

It’s hard not to love such a smaltzy, outrageous, and often entertaining musical as this show, and the great cast of Mountain Community Theater production “Mamma Mia” do their best to maintain ABBA’s song repertoire. .

Yes, the 2.5-hour musical is packed with songs written and made popular by the Swedish pop singer group who enjoyed their greatest success in the 1970s and 1980s.

What director Kathie Kratochvil got particularly well is selecting the charming and talented Sydney Frizzell Gorham to play the central role of Sophie, the bride-to-be looking for her father to accompany her down the aisle. Like her exhausted and hardworking mother, Donna, MarNae Taylor (an MCT veteran) is convincing and also shows her strong voice here.

A third solid woman in this production is the hilarious Sandi Lewandowski who plays the leggy, martini-sling and three-time-married Tanya. A fan of a less flashy role, Nicki Kerns plays Donna’s other funny sidekick.

If the male actors were that convincing. Although W. Scott Whisler as Sam, Steve Goodman as Harry, and Albert Kent as Bill – Sophie’s “three” possible fathers – are all good at their roles, some of their vocals are a good thing. bit wrong and thin, and their acting moves a bit awkward. Goodman is the loudest, especially in the scene where he grabs his old guitar, strings and sings “Thank You for the Music”.

It’s also fun to see Kent’s eyes widen as he runs away from Rosie – even going so far as to hide in the audience when she sets her sights on him and finally locks him in the fun “Take a Chance on Me”.

It’s a shame Eric Johnson-Dorian doesn’t do justice to the role of Sky, Sophie’s fiancé. At the start of the show, Johnson-Dorian kept glancing quickly at the audience, and at times he silently spoke the lyrics to certain songs when he wasn’t supposed to be singing. As the play progresses, he relaxes more in his role and looks more like a happy bride-to-be.

On stage, Gorham literally shines with youthful beauty, thanks to Denise Gorham, mistress of wigs and hair, and she has a natural way of playing and singing that is alluring. Some of his most notable songs are “I Have a Dream”, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “The Name of the Game” and “Slipping through my Fingers” with Taylor.

Taylor stands out vocally in “The Winner Takes It All”, “Dancing Queen” (with her sidekicks), “Our Last Summer” and the title track, “Mamma Mia”.

Several ensemble musicians also light up the stage when they are there. They include Sarah Marsh as Lisa, Emily Stewart as Eddie, Christopher Crosby Cruz as Pepper, and Amy Carlson as Amelia.

The virtually three-sided ensemble created by Larry Cuprys, carpenter Thomas Bates and stage artist Kate Longini Pratt is a sight to behold: the right side is a stunning 3D painting of a Greek walkway with white stucco buildings on each side ; next to it is a balcony leading to a terrace and a door. The central stage is where the scenes change, although at the back there are stained glass windows and doors to “The Taverna” (which actually houses the group of four). The left side of the stage is the bridge and the gate on the other side, and there is a long, narrow stage on the far left that has a lagoon, a bridge, and a bench.

And it’s all bathed in warm blue light, courtesy of lighting designer Scott Laird.

Such a set is obviously a group effort, as evidenced by the long list of names in the program under “Set Painters”.

Steve Edmonds’ sound is effective, as are the many costumes imagined by Lisa Cox and created by the backstage team at MCT.

Mazera Cox-Goulter conducts and plays the keyboard, aided by some recorded sounds as well, with Jeff Adams on guitar, Tony Bianchini on bass, and Jesse Lopez on drums. But the recorded horn and other instruments are sometimes too loud (as in “Name of the Game”) so that it is difficult to hear the singers.

Three women (including Kratochvil) are credited as choreographers with Cathy Warner and Katie Tetzlaff-Larsen leading the choreography on five specific numbers. And, although the choreography is not really dynamic, it fulfills its role here.

“Mamma Mia” has had a lot of exposure over the past 20 years. It was turned into a theatrical musical in 1999, became a musical film in 2008 (and a sequel last year). It is estimated that over 60 million people have now seen it in one form or another around the world.

So MCT just might have some sold-out homes, in case some of those who haven’t seen it anywhere else decide to grab this version. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty darn good – and fun to boot.

Joanne is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area and Theater Bay Area Theater Critics Circle. Email him at [email protected]

If you are going to

Produced by: Mountain Community Theater

Directed by: Kathie Kratochvil

When: Until October 20

Where: Park Hall, 9370 Mill St., Ben Lomond

Tickets: $ 25 general; $ 20 senior / student

Details: (831) 336-4777 or www.mctshows.org

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