Musical pays tribute to ABBA

"Mamma Mia!," which opened just a few years ago in London's West End, has since become a modern classic. This excellent play seamlessly intertwines ABBA music with a fun, light-hearted story. For all those closet fans of ABBA out there, as well as those not as familiar, this show is a must see. The story opens on a mythical Greek island where Donna Sheridan, an independent single mother, runs a tavern far away from the life she left behind out west. When her daughter, Sophie, becomes engaged to a handsome, burned out ex-patriot who also works at the tavern, the wheels of fate are set in motion. Sophie, anxious to finally discover the identity of her father, invites three men to her ceremony, all of whom her mother once dated. After all, without a father to walk her down the aisle, who will give Sophie away at the wedding? Needless to say, a great deal of confusion and hilarity ensues when the three men show up on Donna's doorstep at the exact same time. One of the men, Harry Bright, is a stodgy gay Brit aching to show that he still has his youthfulness. The second, Bill Austin, is a manly, good-natured Australian adventurer and the third, Sam Carmichael, is an American architect who still secretly loves Donna. The entertainment does not end there. Donna is also reunited with her two best friends, Rosie and Tanya, who have come to attend the big event. Coincidently, these two ladies were also back-up singers for Donna when they had an all-female band in the 1970s. Their platform shoes are dragged out of the closet and their vocal skills are exercised more than once throughout the production. Overall the cast is attractive, talented and spirited. There is a great deal of eye candy in the ensemble for either gender. The fun songs help make the show fast paced and run smoothly. Even the pit orchestra can be seen getting into the music. As far as the costumes are concerned, they are no doubt an awesome flashback for anyone in their late 20s or older. The costumes are bright and colorful, with a variety of sequins and beads used. Come to the show expecting to loosen up and have a good time, because nothing is taken very seriously. The drawbacks to the production that has opened up at the National Theatre are minor. The set and staging are appropriate but very simple. There is also some uneven acting in a couple of the main characters. Although these aspects are important for any production, it's really the music that sells the tickets to this show. Whoever feels ABBA songs are dead need only come to one production of "Mamma Mia!" to realize how wrong they are. Throughout the performance at least 100 audience members lip-synced to the songs, like "Dancing Queen." "Mamma Mia!" is not in the vein of "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" or "Jesus Christ Superstar." It is not a horrific opera of music that just never ends. Instead, "Mamma Mia!" is a musical basically written to showcase a handful of ABBA's most popular songs, all of which are quick, classic pop tunes. "Mamma Mia!" runs through Jan. 18 at the historic National Theatre, just a few city blocks from the White House and Metro Center. Tickets are available by calling Telecharge at (800) 447-7400 or online at www.telecharge.com.

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