Mamma Mia! arrives in Los Angeles

Mamma Mia!, the hit Broadway sensation, rolled into the Pantages Theatre Tuesday, bringing the high energy songs of the band ABBA with it. The show will be running at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre from Jan. 26, through Jan. 31, a short run that’s not too unusual for a show that comes back almost every year to Los Angeles. USC’s Undergraduate Student Government Program Board’s Performing Arts Committee and Special Events Committee took a group of 40 students to see the performance, providing a night of dancing, singing along and great vibes with hit songs such as “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Honey, Honey,” “Dancing Queen” and, of course, “Mamma Mia.”

The feel-good show tells the story of Sophie’s quest to discover who her father is from three men in her mother’s past, all of which takes place on her wedding night on a small island in Greece. The three men, Harry, Sam and Bill, have no idea that they have a child and simply believe that they were invited to a wedding. However, they soon learn that they’ve been brought back to Greece for another, very unexpected reason: their potential daughter.

The show began with a hilarious fair warning that it contained spandex and platform shoes, and a killer introductory number introducing the plot and the main characters, Sophie and her mother Donna, but with some contemporary twists. Sophie, played by Kyra Belle Johnson, quickly won our hearts with her mischievous determination to discover who her real father is while at the same displaying her incredible pipes. Donna, played by Erin Fish, owned the show and the protagonist role. While the movie has Sophie as the main character, it quickly becomes clear that this is Donna’s story, which is a clever shift as many theater goers were older and could connect better with the mother. The audience sees Donna’s inner struggle when she discovers that her lovers from the past are back with her hysterical take on the song “Mamma Mia,” which is only heightened by a brilliant use of lighting to isolate what is happening in her mind.

Though Sophie and Donna were amazing characters played by two extremely talented women, Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie, played by Laura Michelle Hughes and Sarah Smith respectfully, actually stole the show. From the moment they stepped on the stage they had the crowd captivated, making the audience laugh with their careful gestures and quirks and their show stopping number, “Dancing Queen,” which had audience members singing, clapping and dancing along. Both confident, strong women captured the stage, both with their own numbers, “Does Your Mother Know” and “Take A Chance On Me,” making audiences wish that they were the protagonists of the musical.

Furthermore, the entire production of the musical was simple but effective, using many palettes of cooler colors, beautiful arrays of gobo lighting and minimalistic set pieces. Though at some points the vocals were muffled, overall, the show sounded great and got the audience on their feet. Likewise, the lighting design was strikingly fantastic, utilizing spots to draw focus to parts of the stage and creating dramatic tones in others. The show captured everything from a creepy dream that featured fog and sickly green, as well as an upbeat disco dance party.

As every show should, Mamma Mia! ended with a standing ovation and dancing to a high-energy number of ABBA’s greatest hits, “Mamma Mia,” and “Dancing Queen.” The show left audiences with a smile on their faces and songs in their heads, and even though the plot itself wasn’t the most complex, the show’s music, characters and production made it a show worth singing about.