LOGAN — Mamma Mia!, here we go again. Ever since the rights came out for this show to be produced locally, the show written by Catherine Johnson and with music by the famous pop group ABBA has been covering the Utah landscape and has ended up in one of my favorite spaces, the Lyric Repertory Company in Logan, Utah. This year, Lyric Repertory has expanded its scope and is now utilizing the Morgan Theatre and Black Box on the USU Campus, which made this former USU theatre student very happy. If you happen to not have seen it yet, the story follows a young girl about to get married who wants her dad at her wedding but is not sure which of her mother’s three old flames is the guy. Behind her mother’s back, the young bride has invited all three flames to the ceremony.
Upon entering the Morgan Theatre, I was impressed by the set design by Spencer Potter and intrigued by the lighting design by Paul Yeates. I continued to be impressed throughout the show with the lighting design, especially with some of the musical numbers, such as the end of act one and the beginning of act two. The show had strong visuals and the full design team should be commended.
I was also impressed with the full casting choices of director Jason Spelbring. Because this show has been produced often within the Utah market recently, I have seen a lot of cookie cutter casting. I admit I found some of the choices made by Spelbring refreshing, especially that of Skye and Sophie, that had more depth than previous productions I have seen.
There were many highlights in the production, and a few things I had wished had been done a little different. One thing I enjoyed was that Spelbring and the cast did not take themselves too seriously and allowed the fun atmosphere of the show to come through. This atmosphere was most apparent in the number, “Dancing Queen.” Donna, played by Megan Heaps, is an overworked single mom and business owner who never gets a break. Donna is visited by her two best friends, the thrice-married Tanya, played by Madison Kisst, and the fun loving feminist Rosie, played by Sydnee Fullmer. During the song, “Dancing Queen,” the friends try to help Donna not freak out about the situation she finds herself in. As a 40-year-old woman myself, I know if my two best friends ended up in my room trying to calm me down, we might just end up singing in harmony with hairbrushes and end up laughing in a heap on the floor, so I appreciated the staging. In emotional contrast, I also appreciated how Heaps was able to also show a strong emotional climax with the number, “The Winner Takes It All,” where she showed just how hurt she was years ago and how much she has taken on all these years on her own.
The opening of act two, “Under Attack,” had some fun choices in costuming and choreography. The choices made the nightmare aspect clear and showed how nightmares can be scary and slightly confusing. I was entertained by the prospect of the dream disturbing Sophie, making her on edge for the following conversation with her mother.
However, there was much left out that could have been improved upon. While the costumes by Sara Shouse were fun in the nightmare scene, the rest of the show the costumes were rather lackluster. Because Mamma Mia! is a more modern show, there can be more flare added. Yes, the Donna and the Dynamos costumes and the costumes at the end were fun, but even the costumes worn by the cast could have been matched a little better to the visuals of the set and the lighting design. Additionally, the choreography was at times very high energy, such as in the song, “Money, Money, Money,” but at other times a bit choppy, such as in the song, “Lay All Your Love on Me.” Some of this variation could be due to some need to tighten up the moves, so perhaps as the run of the show continues the kinks will naturally iron out. Still, the difference in energy was noticeable.
Mamma Mia! is meant to be a show full of fun and excitement, and the production that is part of the 2019 Lyric Repertory Season has captured that essence. Fans of ABBA music will truly enjoy the production. I am pleased that the Lyric Repertory made the choice to hold this production at the Morgan because of the larger space and better technology it provides. The venue allowed for a better production than what would have been possible at the space on Main Street. Be prepared for a fun night full of ABBA, comedic drama, and a colorful production.