Stage West offers familiar, frothy fun for the festive season with musical Mamma Mia!

Caroline Russell-King offers her Postcard Review of Stage West Theatre’s latest offering, the hit musical Mamma Mia!.

Show: Mamma Mia!. 

Playwright/composer: Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus with Stig Anderson, and book by Catherine Johnson, with additional material and arrangements by Martin Koch.

Production company/theatre space: Stage West.

Length: Two acts (three hours with one intermission).

Genre(s): Musical.

Premise: A young bride invites to her wedding three old flames of her mother’s in order to figure out which one might be her father.

Why this play? Why now?: A big-name musical in which many of the audience know or grew up with the lyrics is always a crowd pleaser.

Curiosities: I wondered if I was the only one who was concerned about how high one of the lifts was and how close the actor came to the lights. Judging by the conversations around me I wondered how hard it was not to compare the theatre actors to those in the movie.

Notable moment: That moment when live theatre is better than other media is proved by the audience member who couldn’t control her enthusiasm and shouted out the lyric at the climax of the show and the lead subtly broke the 4th in acknowledgement. Priceless!

Notable writing: This Broadway and West End hit is a jukebox musical with a gossamer plot of loosely woven ABBA songs. (Those that don’t make sense are saved for the curtain call.)

Notable performances: There are some really strong performers, among them the sidekicks Tanya (Alison Somerville) and Rosie (Susa Johnston Collins), who provide the frothy fodder for the mother’s more sombre tones. Jay Davis as Sam is solid, leading-man material.

Notable design/production: Anton de Groot rolls out another slick set.

Notable direction: I’m sure directing the show was a cakewalk for Phil Nero as he spent two years as a member of the original production of Mamma Mia! in Toronto and did the U.S. national tour. Nero is well supported by Stephan Dickson (choreographer) and Konrad Pluta (musical director).

One reason to see this show: Fun, escapism with a dollop of nostalgia (for those of us old enough to know the Eurovision song contest before TV talent shows became de rigueur). 

Mamma Mia! runs until Feb. 9 at Stage West. For tickets and showtimes go to

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at