Mamma Mia – here we go again? I know that I am late to the Mamma Mia party; it’s been an international hit for years and somehow I am just now getting around to seeing it. I have nothing against ABBA and I love jukebox musicals, so this should be something that I really enjoy.
(Before I get started, if you want to read my official review click here)
And yet…there was something missing. What was it……?
Oh yes, a plot and dialogue.
Are those important?
The plot is this: Sophie is getting married and wants her Dad to walk her down the aisle. Except, according to her Mom’s diary from the year before she was born, that could be one of three men. So Sophie invites all three of them to the wedding because she will just “know” when she meets her Dad. Throw in two old band mates of her Mom’s, who naturally when they get together, put on their old costumes and sing their old songs (I can’t find too much fault in this as I can’t imagine this being a huge stretch for me and my friends, and we weren’t even in a band).
The dialogue consists of things such as this:
”I’m old enough to be your mother.”
”You can call me Oedipus.”
Every line seems to be a cue for another song. Some of which, are distressingly out of context. As the person I went to the show with said afterwards,” If you are gong to use pop culture in a show then you must acknowledge that the audience knows the context of the song. So having her sing what is a love song to one of her potential Dad’s is a bit off putting”.
Agreed – You could argue that the song works in the context of the show, but if you listen to the words and realize it s a love song then it’s back to being creepy. And since there is so little meaningful dialogue (see above) the audience has no choice but to listen to the words of the song. It’s a vicious circle.
The choreography is, I suppose, designed to look like anyone from the audience could run up on stage and join in. To help show that each number is really a spontaneous expression of the characters about what is happening in the moment. Except, some of it I can do and no one is going to pay to see me dance. These people on stage are professional dancers, please; lets give them something interesting to do (and watch).
Then, there are the scuba themed dance numbers. Yes, I said numbers, as in plural.
I’ll wait while that sinks in
WTF?? Really? Someone thought that what the world needed was not one, but two scuba themed dance numbers? Accented in bright neon colors?
There’s a story that Kevin Smith the filmmaker tells about how he joined a movie to write the script and all the director could talk about is having the main character fight a giant mechanical spider. While Smith argued that it made no sense and couldn’t figure out how to add it in a coherent manner, and as things spiraled out of control, the director steadfastly demanded his mechanical spider. Eventually the film wasn’t made, but in the very next film this director made there was a giant mechanical spider. I feel like this can be the only plausible explanation for these scuba themed dance numbers. They had to be the dream of someone, who, come hell or high water, wanted two scuba themed dance numbers damnit!
Notice that I am not talking about the performances, that’s because they were very entertaining and talented. They made this crazy show more than the sum of its parts.
In the end, I did like the overall message of the show (albeit it didn’t arrive until the second to last line of the show) that there are “all kinds of families”.
While I loved the music (at over 20 songs, there was a lot of music), the performances and even the very small side plots, overall I think I’m not going there again.