The past year has been very good for me, having seen so many good shows on stage. There was Cats, Varekai, Stomp, Wicked, and now…Mamma Mia!
I was actually in the U.S. when the show debuted on Broadway. I was intrigued, but obviously I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to get a ticket to watch it. Since then, I never had the chance to go back to the U.S., so my thirst for stage shows basically remained unquenched. Then the movie came out. Having Meryl Streep in the lead role was already enough for me to LOVE the movie, but I’ve always been so curious how the stage version played out. Besides, I bought the CD of the original cast recording, and I noticed that the arrangement of the songs were quite different from those in the movie. So when I heard that they were coming over to Manila, I knew I NEEDED to be there. Thankfully, I had the golden opportunity to attend the Gala Night and in the 3rd row to boot! We were sooo close to the stage!
It was like a who’s who of Manila’s glitterati with celebs like Lea Salonga, KC Concepcion, Imelda Marcos, Tim Yap, Tessa Prieto…name them, they were there! It was fun for us mortals to watch the social butterflies strut their stuff.
Then, the lights dimmed and the show began. Suffice it to say, Mamma Mia! is one of the few Broadway musicals where the audience could sing along to literally every song in the repertoire! With the exception of the token obscure ABBA gem here and there, everyone was just lipping or actively singing out loud to every pop ditty from the Swedish quartet. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the showstoppers were basically the same highlights as those in the movie. It’s just so much fun from beginning to end. The main difference is, doing the same story on stage involves a revolving stage, which ushers in a change of scene. It’s a relatively small stage, yet they can switch from an indoor scene in a bedroom to a scene set out on the seashore.
The performers were all game from beginning to end. I previously thought it was the Australian cast that was coming over, but it turned out to be the U.K. cast. The dancing was amazing! There were some really impressive acrobatics, especially during the “Does Your Mother Know” number. But the two people who stole the show every time they were on stage were the two actresses who played Rosie and Tanya, the two buddies of the lead character Donna. They were hilarious, they had strong pipes, and they get the crowd’s full attention every time they command the stage. Suffice it to say they also received some of the loudest applause during the curtain call.
And speaking of, in case you’re watching, don’t leave even after they take their final bows, because just like in the movie, they have three more songs to sing to the crowd, this time as a huge karaoke sing-along! Oh my goodness, it was so much fun! Everyone was just singing and dancing and having loads of fun with the cast!
With Wicked, it touched me on a very primal level. The themes that pervaded that show struck a raw nerve — of being misunderstood, of being accused of the exact opposite of what actually happened, of history being the spoils of the victor — these are themes very close to my heart, so the show struck me to my very core. I guess that’s why watching it became a profound experience. Mamma Mia! on the other hand is pure fun. Even during the heart-wrenching number like “Slipping Through My Fingers” and “The Winner Takes It All”, it’s still enjoyable melodrama at its best. I would call it neither better nor worse, because it’s a different experience altogether; it’s like comparing apples and oranges. One leaves you musing, one leaves you humming.
Catch it if you can, the show runs until February 19, 2012, at the CCP Main Theater. Buy your tickets at Ticketworld, http://www.ticketworld.com.ph or 8919999.