Front Row Reviewers

Dec 20, 2023 | Reviews

Broadway Across America’s Mamma Mia! at the Eccles Theater Will Make You Want to Go Again!

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Alayna Een and Eliza Een

You’ve heard of Christmas in July, now get ready for some summer fun in December as Broadway Across America brings Mamma Mia! to the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. 

Mamma Mia! tells the story of a mother, Donna, and daughter, Sophie, who live on a beautiful Greek island and are preparing for Sophie’s wedding to her fiance, Sky. Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has added three not-quite strangers from Donna’s past to the guest list: the men who might be Sophie’s father. When they arrive, the whole wedding party shakes from the secrets and lingering emotions that suddenly surface. Filled to the brim with all of your favorite ABBA songs (music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and book by Catherine Johnson), this musical takes the audience through the highs and lows of love and self-discovery and ends with a feel-good finale. 

The mother-daughter pair is a real dynamo-duo, with Christine Sherrill as Donna and Alisa Melendez as Sophie. Sherrill belts her ballads with character and emotion in a very vocally demanding role, and the shared chorus in “Slipping Through My Fingers” is especially strong. Melendez bubbles with youthful innocence and energy but masters her songs, which range from honest to gossipy to soulful. Her interactions with Sky (Grant Reynolds) capture all the sweet and intoxicating intensity of young love, and Reynolds gives his all as a wetsuit-wearing flipper-kicking king in “Lay All Your Love on Me.” The singing, scuba-certified male ensemble makes this number especially fun to watch.

Donna’s flirty but unfailing best friends are Tonya (Jalynn Steele) and Rosie (Carly Sakolove). I loved their combination of comedy and sincerity—a mirror of their character traits—in “Chiquitita” and enjoyed how the three distinct energies of Donna and her aging dynamos come through in “Dancing Queen.” They work well as a set, but each has individual strength. Steele has a star power reminiscent of Whitney Houston that shines especially brightly in her solo song, “Does Your Mother Know,” in which she matches the coy energy of her character while serving some excellent dance moves. Rosie is a role that can sometimes lean too heavily on the goofy and gimmicky, but Sakolove comes in with incredible vocals and rounds it out nicely while still enjoying the comedic aspects of her character.

Our three potential dads start off as a good set, as seen in their final chorus of the titular song, and they also do a great job owning the nuances of their characters naturally at every opportunity, from the different ways they hug and interact with Sophie to their songs with Donna and other characters. Victor Wallace (Sam) gives full ABBA energy to his songs and highlights his character’s conflict, regret, and resolution. Rob Marnell (Harry) is especially sweet in his connections with Sherrill, and their duet “Our Last Summer” was an unexpected emotional center of the show. Jim Newman (Bill), as an adventurer, takes most things in stride, which makes his uncertain interactions with Melendez in “The Name of the Game” more tender and with Sakolove in “Take a Chance on Me” more hilarious. 

Director Phyllida Lloyd honors the nearly 25-year history of Mamma Mia! in this production. There’s nothing like a live band, especially for a jukebox musical, and Matthew Croft (conductor/keyboard) adds a special flair to some of your ABBAsolute favorite songs. As is common with live concerts, the sound was a bit much at times. I recommend that audience members with sensitive ears consider bringing ear plugs for the entr’acte music. 

From the beach-toned everyday wear to neon swimwear to three-tiered bell-bottom disco suits, Lucy Gaiger’s costumes fit the many different moments of the play like a glove—an elbow-length pink one, to be exact. And the flamboyant outfits for the leads in the encore make it even easier for the audience to get up and sing and dance along—you know you want to!

The seventies outfits aren’t the only influences of that decade, and viewers will see some references to drugs and promiscuity. Also, the nightmare sequence at the start of act two had a strange, almost Fiddler on the Roof Fruma Sarah feel to it. But on the whole, Mamma Mia! At the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City is every bit the fun, feel-good, smash hit musical you know and love. So let your mother know, and book a few hours in Mediterranean paradise with the cast of Mamma Mia!

Zions Bank/Broadway at the Eccles Presents: Mamma Mia! 
Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, Book by Catherine Johnson
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater
131 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
December 19–24, 2023, 7:30 PM (weekdays), 2:00 PM (Friday/Saturday), 8:00 PM (Friday/Saturday), 1:00 PM (Sunday)
Tickets are $79–219 
801.355.2787 (ARTS)
Purchase Tickets – Broadway Across America/Salt Lake City Broadway
Mamma Mia! Touring Website Broadway at the Eccles – Facebook

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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