WASHINGTON TERRACE — Mamma Mia! has taken the Utah theater scene by storm. As the fourth production to be reviewed by UTBA in 2019, Terrace Plaza’s Mamma Mia! had a lot to live up to. The jukebox musical features the music made famous by the pop group ABBA. The story follows the young woman Sophie, played by Katelynn Ostler, who is engaged to Sky, played by Tyler O’Bagy. Sophie hopes to have her father walk her down the aisle, but she doesn’t know who her father is, which is what brings about the plot of the show. I was excited and interested to see how director Shelby Ferrin would take this story and make it fresh and different.
The first notable aspect of the Terrace production was the set design, also by Ferrin. Because the show is set on a small island in Greece, the stage at the Playhouse was painted with beautiful scenes from the isles of Greece that were vividly realistic and transported me to the location. The added set of the taverna and dock area were just as well put together, and the use of the space at the Terrace Plaza Playhouse was well done.
Lighting designers Mark Ellis and Miland Palmer and costume designers Jamila Lowe and Jim Tatton had a lot of fun with colors and styles that complimented the set design well. Because the setting was in the early 2000s, the styles of clothing were pretty modern in genre, but the colors matched the themes of the Greek backdrop. The lighting not only matched the color scheme of set and costume, but it also matched the moods of day and night and of different songs and tempos spanning memories of previous generations’ moods and musical genres.
Because Mamma Mia! is a show that has a silly plot and is facing some popularity that can be seen in the valley, the quality of the music in the production is vital. Wonderfully, music is a place where Terrace Plaza shines. Music director Brittney Ann does a great job of bringing the cast together in many fun numbers. A particular favorite is the classic “Mamma Mia!” where Donna, played by Natalie Haddock, laments the sudden appearance of three old flames. The staging choices of the chorus members is absolutely fantastic and the backup vocals matched the quality. Everything done by Donna and the Dynamos, her singing group with her two best friends, Rosie, played by Kim Tolman, and Tanya, played by Annie Ferrin is phenomenal. From the amusing, “Dancing Queen,” and, “Chiquitita,” to the toe tapping, “Super Trouper,” these ladies show off their comedic skills and their harmonic prowess. It is impressive to see them sing beautiful harmonies while also strongly showing off their acting skills. In the second act when Annie Ferrin sings, “Does Your Mother Know,” Annie Ferrin brings down the house with choreography by Kelley Richardson and a strong vocal performance. Tolman also has her own strong moment when she sings the favorite, “Take a Chance on Me,” near the end of the show. There are some moments when a few of the vocals feel tired, but I can tell this flaw is from sickness, not lack of skill, which was confirmed to me from several cast members. It is even more impressive that such vocal power came from a cast that was not at 100%.
I truly enjoyed the strong moments of humor that director Shelby Ferrin chose to put into this production of Mamma Mia!. The opening of act two is a dream sequence, and some of the elements, especially one involving O’Bagy and a wedding dress, had me in stitches for several minutes. The first time I saw a production of Mamma Mia!, I remember thinking that the cast was having so much fun on stage. I echo that sentiment with the cast of Terrace Plaza. This cast seems to have a great time presenting this show.
Of particular interest, Terrace Plaza is doing two sing-a-long evenings, October 26, 2019 and November 11, 2019, for people who may be interested in making sure that they can be even more involved in the ABBA music part of the show. If you have not had a chance to catch a production of Mamma Mia! yet on a Utah stage, Terrace Plaza has put together a fun version to try out. And if you just need another chance to be a dancing queen, this show is a good place to lay all your love on.