Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mamma Mia Rocks the Aisles

Review, Frank Ramirez, Senior Pastor, Union Center Church of the Brethern

Richard Pletcher, Executive Producer of the Round Barn Theatre, remembers when he first heard about the hit musical “Mamma Mia!”. "Friends of mine came back from London in 1999 and raved about ‘Mamma Mia!’ at the Prince Edward Theatre," he said. Once he heard the description of the show he thought, "I dreamed of producing the musical on The Round Barn Theatre's stage. Now 19 years later the time has come; it's a dream come true."

In case the title of the show didn’t make it clear, “Mamma Mia!” recycles the enormously popular music of ABBA, weaving it through a simple but effective plot. Sophie, having been raised on a Greek island by her single mother Donna, discovers her mother’s diary and suspects her father may be one of three men. As Donna makes arrangements for the wedding to take place on the island hotel her mother owns and operates, Sophie invites all three men to her wedding, hoping she will recognize which one is her father, which will lead to him walking her down the aisle.

Ah, it’s not that easy. But with ABBA’s music backing the story, you can rest assured that despite all the twists and turns, things will turn out mostly okay!

Director Mike Fielder and Choreographer Melanie Greyson have molded a talented cast into a hit making machine. The action is fast paced, the dancing is crisp and imaginative, and the performers in “Mamma Mia!” hit their marks and make an impact. Music Director Paul Rigano directs the musical talent to best effect.

The cast mixes a blend of Round Barn newcomers with many favorites from previous season. Taylor Moran, one of those making her Round Barn debut, and veteran Amber Burgess, who plays her mother Donna, are a double star, spinning around each other, around which everyone else orbits. The two are well-paired, representing different generations and aspirations, but the same earnest desire for life and love.

Violet Race and Sarah Lee Beason are tethered to Moran, playing her friends who fly in for the wedding, balanced by Katie Barnes and Heidi Ferris who play Donna’s former band mates, tied together in a threesome of unfulfilled hopes and dreams.

The three potential Dads, played by Ryan Schisler, Dion Stover, and Jake DuValley-Early wander from one sphere of influence to another, with Patrick O’Keefe (playing fiance Sky), seemingly adrift in the midst of this confusion.

The company, including a talented ensemble, performs at the level one would expect, each taking a star turn as needed.

If the plot, which is not complex, seems a tad familiar one should not be surprised. As Pletcher noted, “Of interest to our theatre, the plot of “Mamma Mia” is nearly identical to Broadway's 1970's  “Carmelina.” Alan J. Lerner's production was written by The Round Barn Theatre's mentor and namesake, Joseph Stein. Typical of Joe, he never complained about the similarities, I believe because “Mamma Mia” is such fun, he didn't want to rain on its parade." 

Warning -- the music of ABBA has been shown to be addictive. You’re likely to be humming songs from this show for days afterwards. On the other hand, you won’t mind that at all.

The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres presents “Mamma Mia!” by Catherine Johnson, based on the music of ABBA, Composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, through July 15. “Mamma Mia” performances run in repertory with “Plain and Fancy” and are Wednesday – Saturday at 8 p.m., and Thursday and Sunday at 2 P.m. For information and reservations call the box office at 800-800-4942 or go to www.amishacres.com.

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