REVIEW: MAMA MIA at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre
by Jessica Wilckinson
I have never been to a dinner theatre before and am also unfamiliar with the musical MAMMA MIA; so I had no idea what to expect. Some things are just better left to be experienced without any preconceived notion and this was certainly the case for this production. Boulder Dinner Theatre has been a Boulder Institution since 1977 and is the perfect mix of kitsch and nostalgia. The decor and menu have a decidedly eighties vibe, which as someone who had never experienced a dinner theatre, was exactly what I wanted it to be like. Maybe it was too many years watching the Golden Girls with my Grandma, or the mature clientele, but I was instantly transported into a world that felt homey and familiar, and it definitely set the stage for a play with such a strong emphasis on the power of female relationships.
Mama Mia is the story of Sophie Sheridan, a twenty year old girl who wishes to meet her father before she gets married. Upon the discovery of her mother Donna’s diary that was written during the time period that she would have been conceived , Sophie is able to track down the three men who may be her father and invite them to her wedding behind her mother’s back. She is convinced that she will just be able to feel which of the men is her father , which turns out to be as difficult for her as it was her mother, who confesses to her old time best friends Tanya and Rosie that she also does not know which suitor is the father. This results in a lot of misunderstandings, hijinx and eventually a lesson in the true meaning of family, friendship and love, all told through the dynamic singing and dancing of the multi talented staff.
Christy Oberndorf plays Sophie as fresh faced, naive and hopeful as you would expect a twenty year old with the world ahead of her to be. She brings a very ethereal quality to the character and personally possess a truly light and contagious energy, which is mirrored by her equally as youthful and vibrant friends, Ali ( played by Lillian Buonocore ) and Lisa ( played by Sarah Hackshaw.) The trio embodies the enthusiasm, beauty and brightness of youth and their relationship with one another set the stage for the memories of the older generation in the play.
As the rest of the friends and family begin to show up, each character brings a bit more chaos, confusion and depth to the show, especially enjoyable in scene six with almost all of the main characters in the courtyard, performing Super Trooper and Gimme Gimme Gimme. The men playing the three potential fathers, Harry Bright ( played by Bob Hoppe ), Sam Carmichael ( played by Scott Severston ) and Bill Austin ( played by Scott Beyette ) were all able to bring a very unique personality to their characters, although I particularly enjoyed Beyette’s portrayal of Austin, a quirky and eclectic traveler and writer. He certainly shows his over 30 years of BDT experience. The entire cast was great, but for me, the women stole the show.
This story really seems to tell the story of youth and travel, friendship and love, especially amongst women. The young people are there to show what the older generation was experiencing at that age and where life can lead you. A large focus on this is the mother daughter relationship between Donna and Sophie and the dynamic between Donna ( played by the experienced Tracy Warren ) and her longtime best friends, Tanya ( played by Alicia K. Meyers ) and Rosie ( played by Joanie Brosseau-Rubald.) The intricate relationship between the self- doubting Donna, sweet and goofy Rosie and bawdy, no nonsense Tanya is reminiscent of many multi female character lead shows, but there is a reason these relationship archetypes keep appearing, they ring true. This was made evident by the groups of women and the conversations happening around me, which just added to the community playhouse feeling of the BDT, with a finale in which the whole cast came out to perform together and ran through the crowd. Truly interactive and such a perfect way to end a show so focused on friends, family and fun.
Overall, this was a great interpretation of a 2000’s play, in a 1980’s setting with the timeless message that family isn’t just who you are related to, and that sometimes the people that you meet at the beginning are still going to be there in the end. I hIghly recommend the BDT for any and all shows if you are looking to go somewhere for an experience that you can’t get anywhere else, it was truly unique. A special shout out to the cast who are also the service staff and were absolutely amazing at both of their jobs, it was a privilege to be your guest.
MAMMA MIA is delighting audiences now through February 22nd in Boulder, CO. For tickets or more information, contact the BDT Stage Box Office by calling 303-449-6000 or online at www.bdtstage.com.