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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Many of us, maybe most of us, have seen the 2008 film version of Mamma Mia, the romantic comedy about a young bride’s attempt to find her father, set in Greece, and festooned with songs by the Swedish pop group ABBA. Fewer of us have seen the stage version, at least locally, unless you are among the estimated 60 million who have attended the show worldwide since it opened in 1999.

Beef and Boards brings us a grand opportunity to attend and enjoy a top-level edition of the show, which, under the inspired guidance of director/choreographer Ron Morgan, rocked the packed house at the local dinner theatre last evening with a breathless and eye- popping presentation.

Mamma Mia is, in a word, fantastic, with a prize cast of outstanding singers, dancers and actors, who carry us away with their amazing vocal talents while performing some of the most inspired choreographic work I have witnessed from Mr. Morgan.

Mamma Mia at Beef and Boards

Donna Sheridan (Amy Bodnar), left, is shocked to see three former lovers (from left) Sam Carmichael (Mark Epperson), Harry Bright (Don Farrell), and Bill Austin (Jeff Stockberger). Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Rachelle Rose Clark), seated, watches her reaction.

Broadway veteran Amy Bodnar stars as single mom Donna Sheridan, alongside Rachelle Rose Clark who plays her daughter/the bride – Sophie. These two uniquely gifted performers give remarkable turns, especially Ms. Bodnar’s show-stopping “The Winner Takes It All” and Ms. Clark’s lovely “I Have a Dream”. They are supported onstage by a plethora of talent – beginning with Donna’s cohorts from a past incarnation – Donna and the Dynamos: the thrice married Tanya, played by the lovely Jalynn Steele and the nebbish Rosie, played with great comic skill by Lanene Charters. The combined trio offer up outstanding renditions of “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper”.

Super Trouper

The Dynamos, Donna (Amy Bodnar), center, Tanya (Jalynn Steele), left, and Rosie (Lanene Charters) sing “Super Trouper”.

Add in a talented trio of males – the prospective fathers (all having had romances with Donna, the better to confuse Sophie’s search for her dad) played by Mark Epperson as architect Sam Carmichael, Jeff Stockberger as travel writer Bill Austin, and Don Farrell as Brit banker Harry Bright. Then – count in Sophie’s fiance, Sky, played by Will Leonard, and her bridesmaids – Ali and Lisa, Chloe Kounadis and Lauren Morgan, respectively. All in all – with the 10 additional ensemble members, you have a huge cast onstage, performing incredible dance routines and songs, wearing Jill Kelly Howe’s vibrant arrangement of costumes, to the orchestral offerings of Terry Woods’ fine B&B orchestra – I tell you, it was pretty darn remarkable and impressive!

Voulez-Vous

One of Ron Morgan’s incredible creations: “Voulez-Vous” with the entire “Mamma Mia” cast.

There are way too many highlights from the show to include them all. The entire female ensemble’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” was a standout number, as was “Does Your Mother Know?” with Jalynn Steele and company. Jeff Stockberger and Lanene Charters join forces for a hilarious encounter, as Bill and Rosie discover each other in “Take a Chance on Me”; and certainly the grand finale is an unbelievable display of talents, colors and sound.

Does Your Mother Know

Jalynn Steele as Tanya is spotlighted in her rendition of “Does Your Mother Know?”

Bottomline: You simply do not want to miss what has to be near the top of the list of superior productions that Beef and Boards has offered us over it’s 45 year history. And that goes for Chef Odell’s exceptional buffet for this show, as well. There is not much more I can say to get across what a truly phenomenal theatre experience this is. I loved it – go see it!

Momma Mia continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through April 8th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry
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