Mamma Mia!

By Chris Heide

 Sarah Rudinoff as Rosie, Kendra Kassebaum as Donna and Lisa Estridge as Tanya perform "Dancing Queen" in  Mamma Mia!  - Photo Credit Mark Kitaoka

Sarah Rudinoff as Rosie, Kendra Kassebaum as Donna and Lisa Estridge as Tanya perform "Dancing Queen" in Mamma Mia! - Photo Credit Mark Kitaoka

Mamma Mia, here we go again!

After a successful revival on Broadway and an energetic tour, the 5th Avenue Theatre has decided to take a stab at producing their own version of the beloved show. Sold out for many performances already, this production assuredly lives up to the positive hype.

The cast is fantastic. Kendra Kassebaum is outstanding as Donna Sheridan, the female lead of this production. Her deep, silky, belting voice is perfect for any stage performance. Kassebaum is a regular featured performer in many 5th Avenue productions- she is slowly becoming Seattle’s own version Meryl Streep, with her impressive vocal abilities and impeccable comedic timing.

So much of this show is expertly produced. The choreography and staging are lively and well executed. The stage design team, lead by the talented Jason Sherwood, has created a lush, lavish, and complex design. Sherwood is a New York based set designer and his expert talent is put to great use in this production. Most recently, Sherwood created a set for Sam Smith's Grammy performance and his high level of professional ability shows in his ingenious creations for Mamma Mia.

The ensemble cast is excellent as well. Many of the supporting players take opportunity sine with the moments they are given. In particular, Lisa Estridge (Tanya), Sarah Rudinoff (Rosie) and Matt Wolfe (Bill Austin steal the show anytime they are onstage.

Given that the show features a majority of the Abba catalog, the music is both entertaining and engaging. A few particular songs were more successful throughout the evening, including Dancing Queen, Does Your Mother Know, and The Winner Takes It All.

As with any show, Mamma Mia is imperfect. A couple of the main cast members seem miscast. It's always glaringly noticeable when a lead performer does not possess the same level of vocal ability as his fellow cast members. As a result, any number featuring predominant vocals from said cast member unfortunately and notably sticks out among the sea of winners.

Overall, Mamma Mia is an ambitious undertaking for the 5th Avenue Theatre. Undoubtedly, this gorgeous production is a Broadway caliber show; a show that runs full steam, on all cylinders, for the entire duration of the production.

Truly, the only real negative aspect of Mamma Mia is the audience. I’d like to take a minute to lay out a few helpful reminders to Seattle audiences:

  1. Mamma Mia, like all original 5th Avenue productions is a professional show. It is not a sing along. As much as you love Abba, please leave the singing to the professionals.

  2. For the love of god, every single moment of a show does not require thunderous applause. Seattle audiences are notoriously applause-happy, a behavior that can interrupt the natural momentum of a show.

  3. Please bring your child to an age appropriate show. This should be common sense.