I’m Dancing, Queen: TheatreMcLean’s Mamma Mia! is a hit

TheatreMcLean’s Mamma Mia! has an extraordinary opening night.

“Mamma Mia!” sums it up about right, because TheatreMcLean’s newest production of the iconic ABBA musical will leave you incoherently exclaiming with sheer joy. 

Mamma Mia! Follows the story of bride-to-be, Sophie, as she invites three men to her island wedding–all of whom could possibly be her father. She does so without the knowledge or blessing of her fiercely independent and headstrong mother. The men arrive on the island and what ensues is an exciting and fun musical weaving grand romances, familial love, and overall, one of the best times you could ask for at the theater.

Before the play even starts, the setting is on full display. A beautifully constructed Greek tavern on a beach welcomes the audience into a beautifully constructed play. The buildings are charming and create an immersive experience right from the start. 

The house lights dim as the play begins and multi-colored spotlights illuminate the stage to the music of classic songs reinvisioned. The vibrant lighting provides a level of complexity and excitement that doesn’t let up. 

In contrast, a calm melody plays as Sophie emerges on stage, singing a soft ballad as she begins her story and invites her potential fathers to her wedding. Immediately, it is clear that the performances to follow will be enthralling and superb. 

Sophie, played by senior Miranda Simpson, is a complete ray of sunshine with effortlessly stunning vocals. Her typical scene mate Nathan Bass, who plays Sky (Sophie’s fiancé), is extremely warm and charming and the two of them act together seamlessly. 

The trio of fathers, Bill, Harry, and Sam, played by Nathan Kulp, Jackie House, and Jack Abba respectively, are entertaining and identifiably unique while also sharing a camaraderie that is wildly endearing. 

Finally, the matriarchs of the show are Sophie’s mother, Donna, and her two best friends, Rosie and Tanya. Arielle Else’s Tanya and Franny Hemsley’s Rosie have a sensational chemistry and hold each audience member in the palm of their hands with their amazing musical performances, comedic timing, and overall powerful presence. Idil Erdogan as Donna is an absolute powerhouse, wielding both fierce grit and caring tenderness.  

With such an iconic musical being widely beloved, it would be easy for this production to be unoriginal and shallow, but that is definitively not the case. The direction is fresh with stunning visuals, elaborate choreography, and has an overall abundance of energy and heart. 

The ensemble is on point which is especially poignant in stand out songs like Money, Money, Money and Under Attack that are perfectly executed flash mobs that make the audience want to join in and dance. 

The crew was quietly perfect, as there were minimal slip ups that interrupt the immersion of the story. The audio was clear, moving of props was efficient, and every little aspect made the whole production subtly smooth. 

As comes with the adventure that is live theater, there were moments where a mic wasn’t working or a prop accidentally fell, but the cast and crew handled all mistakes with grace and the magic remained. The occasional hiccup that may have broken the illusion for a moment was genuinely refreshing as it emphasizes that these are real McLean students. These moments of real life showcase just how talented the real people within TheatreMcLean truly are and the humanity and care that goes into these productions. 

Mamma Mia! is a physical experience. It leaves a smile cemented on the face of every audience member, until the whole theater is sobbing with no ability to regard the volume of their tears. There are plenty of moments of heart racing and foot tapping, but the verve and vivacity with which everyone leaves the theater is palpable. TheatreMcLean’s Mamma Mia is nothing short of sensational – honestly, some of McLean’s best!