Having watched the 2008 movie version of Mamma Mia!, I was hesitant to sit through the Ferndale Repertory Theatre’s production of the musical. How many ABBA songs in a row can a man endure? But the wife insisted, so off we went Saturday night to Ferndale for an evening of music written by the 1970s Swedish pop band and arranged for a juke-box musical set on a Greek island.
A glass of red wine in hand, I took my seat and braced myself for the production. Was this going to be an uncomfortably awkward experience, like being plunged into a bachelorette party or a baby shower? Fortunately, not at all.
This romantic comedy is about bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan (played flawlessly by Alyssa Plante) and her search for the indentity of her father. Seeking answers she reads her mother’s diary entries written during the time she was conceived. She narrows down her potential father to three men who dated her mother 21 years ago. Without telling her mother, Sophie invites the three men to her wedding.
And there’s the setup for an evening of laughs, laments and misunderstandings, all arranged around hit ABBA tunes, including Honey, Honey, Dancing Queen, Voulez Vous and more.
According to the playbill, Plante is back on stage for her first production with Ferndale Rep after having taken a long break from performing. She was the real standout in the production, beautifully belting out the ABBA songs without missing a note. Others in the cast had a few wobbly moments, but that just added to the charm of live community theater.
Gwen Price, as Rosie, added a bawdy quality to the song Take a Chance on Me and had the house in stitches. Those who witnessed her performance will likely attach a different meaning to that song when they hear it from now on.
The musical, directed by Molly Severdia and produced by Leira V. Satlof, has a fast pace and is full of laughs. There’s nothing boring about it.
Arrive early, take a stroll down Main Street, admire the Victorian architecture, then take a seat in the Hart Theatre and enjoy Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! plays through June 2. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 students (15 to college), $16 seniors (60-plus), $10 youth (ages 3 through 14). A $2 Historical Building Preservation Fee will be added to each ticket. Ferndale Repertory Theatre is at 447 Main St. in Ferndale.
ferndalerep.org, (707) 786-5483