I meant to write this on Friday, or at least over the weekend, but this is me we’re talking about! On Thursday I saw the North American tour of Mamma Mia!, and I was decidedly underwhelmed by the performance. I wanted to get the word out that it was not worth your time or money before it left town, but alas, it left yesterday, so I didn’t help out any Chicagoans, but maybe the good people of Sioux Falls, SD or Manhattan, KS or elsewhere on this exclusive tour will heed my warning and stay home.
I saw this show about ten years ago, and I remember being blown away. I walked out of there happy and dance-y, and raved about it for years to come. I eagerly watched the movie and purchased the CD of the soundtrack (yes, the CD, and yes it was only a few years ago, don’t ask), so I was really excited to see it again. Excited, but not excited enough to purchase a full-priced ticket, so I kept my eyes peeled until I found $25 tickets (via Broadway in Chicago’s facebook page), which I am SO thankful I did. I would be one angry theatre-goer if I had spent any more than I did to see this show.
The singing was not bad, except for the fella who played Sky. I’ll tell you what, that kid couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket! Can you say “Awkward!”? (awkward!) Other than that, it wasn’t bad, but it definitely was not good. The female leads held their own, the males not so much, but I just sensed that the actors were very sad and were just going through the motions. Maybe they were sad, but their job as an actor is to pull it together and personify what is written in the script. Frankly, I don’t care if you are borderline suicidal or if your great aunt Gertrude just died, we all forked over our hard earned money to watch you ACT. If you can’t do that, then don’t be an actor.
It wasn’t but a few minutes into the show that found my mind wandering to the auditions these people must have bombed in order to end up on this tour. I’m sure they all tried out for Wicked, Mary Poppins, The Book of Mormon, and the like, and didn’t land those roles for reasons obvious to anyone who was in that theatre. Next, I started to guess who was sleeping with who, and then I almost fell asleep about four times. In Mamma Mia!. The musical equivalent of Disney World. It was just all wrong.
The most invigorating performance was the “encore” they do at curtain call. The entire cast sings two or three of ABBA’s most recognizable tunes, and this was pretty much the only part worth our $36, because they were actually in sync and seemed happy (probably happy to be done with the show so they could go get drunk or slit their wrists). I admit I’m being harsh, but if I had spent what I usually spend on musical theater tickets (anywhere from $50-$150), I would be irate. So maybe someone will read this and save their money. If you really want to see Mamma Mia!, rent the movie. Or hell, if your local high school or community center is putting it on, check that out. It could not be any worse than this!
Sidenote: to the woman who opened a bag of chips and proceeded to loudly consume them during the first act, STFU! Thankfully an usher came up and told her to stop, and the lady disappeared after the first act. This should go without saying, but keep your loud ass snacks at home! Or enjoy them at intermission. But for the love of god, shut the fuck up during the actual performance, even if it was the most craptacular musical I’ve seen in ten years. The subpar production quality does not give you the right to give your best elephant-eating-peanuts impression mid-show.