(eTN) – As we walked toward the Winter Garden Theatre, I got goose bumps as the sign “The World’s Number 1 Musical” came into focus. Spending a week enjoying all that Broadway has to offer is one of those bucket list dreams that theatre aficionados have written in gold-metallic ink. We were one of the chosen few who would bear witness to the world’s most beloved musical, performed by the world’s finest voices: Broadway’s Mamma Mia.
The songs of ABBA are perhaps some of the most difficult to perform, even by highly-trained vocalists. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are geniuses of their craft, pioneers of the Swedish musical miracle phenomenon that arose in Stockholm in the 1970s. To perform ABBA songs, a three octave range is required; this eliminates 99 percent of would-be performers.
Mamma Mia, the musical was created by taking ABBA’s greatest hits, then arranging them around a dramatic plot of family dynamics.
Leading the Broadway cast is Beth Leavel, winner of the Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critic’s Circle, and LA Drama Critics Circle awards. Leavel magnificently plays Donna Sheridan, a woman disowned by her family when she accidentally became pregnant. Forced to scrape out a living as an innkeeper, Donna usually has more setbacks than triumphs. The heroic grace that forms a halo about her lies in her refusal to ever give up.
Donna’s daughter, Sophie, played angelically by Alyse Alan Louis, has lived with life-long emptiness, aching to know her real father.
The strongest factor in Mamma Mia’s plot is that it is believable. The unfortunate events could happen to anybody.
As the story unfolds, three possible fathers arrive. Each man’s story is compelling and yet familiar; we all know someone who somehow missed an opportunity to find love.
The perky songs serve to rescue the characters from sad situations, making Mamma Mia a feel-good musical that brings hope, if not a cure, to empty hearts.
I could tell within the first five notes that Wendy Bobbett Cavett, the music director, had this music nailed right on the head. If there was ever a perfect musical performance, it happened that night at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway.
Mamma Mia appeals to people of all ages. The Broadway production offers a rare opportunity to experience the most perfect of musical perfections. Add this one to your bucket list – you’ll never regret it.
NYC & Company have a beautiful web site filled with the latest Broadway information. http://www.nycgo.com/broadway , and an online catalog of the most important information visitors to the Big Apple need to know http://bit.ly/newyorkcity2010 .
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For more information on Mamma Mia, kindly visit http://www.mammamianorthamerica.com/ .
The writers wish to thank Joe Perrotta and Chris Heywood for their invaluable assistance. This article is part one of a series on New York City.