Sophie Sheridan and her mother Donna live in paradise. While helping Donna run a quaint but crumbling inn on an idyllic Greek island, Sophie met the man of her dreams, Sky. And now, they’re planning a wedding, an idea about which Donna, a single mother with a checkered history with men—more on that later—is less than enthralled. But Sophie wants it all. The church, the ocean view, the white dress, even her dad to give her away.
And it’s there that her mom’s romantic misadventures come in. It seems that Sophie has never met her father. Doesn’t even know who he is. And it turns out that this is not just because Donna won’t talk about him. Apparently, she doesn’t know either. Approximately nine months before Sophie was born, Donna was quite serious about Sam. Unfortunately, he turned out to be engaged and had to leave suddenly. Heartbroken, Donna fell into the arms of not one, but two men, Bill and Harry. Having learned all this when she happened upon her mother’s diary, Sophie has done the unthinkable—without her mother’s permission, or even knowledge, she’s invited all three men to her wedding, in the hopes that she will know her real father when she sees him. Of course, it couldn’t possibly be that simple, could it?
We learn all this in the first five minutes of Mamma Mia!, so don’t worry about spoilers. The Actors Guild of Parkersburg’s production, which opens Friday, April 19, is a fun romp of a musical. The twist to this show, directed brilliantly by R. J. Lowe, is that all of the songs are classic hits from the Swedish supergroup ABBA. Rather than write a show and songs to go with it, the writers of this musical have taken the songs, which already existed, and built a plot around them. So, if you’re an ABBA fan, you’ll enjoy this show even if you don’t much care for the storyline. But you will enjoy it. It’s classic girl meets dad and dad and dad romance. What’s not to love?
This production is part Shakespearean comedy, complete with tons of dramatic irony, mistaken assumptions, and miscommunication. And it’s also part Greek drama, even including a chorus for good measure. And the acting and singing are, as is customary with the Guild, top-flight. The quality of the cast is matched by that of the set, which is simultaneously simple and brilliantly complex.
The two central characters, Sophie and Donna, are portrayed powerfully by Torrey Archer and Sherry Braid, respectively. Equally strong in different ways are the three possible baby daddies, Dennis Craig, George Litman, and Danny Bayer. A more disparate trio could not be found. One is an adventurer and author and another is a highly proper banker, while the third, Sam, is a ruggedly handsome architect. And the three were cast quite appropriately.
The rest of the cast, including the delightful chorus, do an admirable job of interpreting the well-known music of ABBA. It’s all just such fun, even when it gets a little serious toward the end. But don’t worry, it’s a classic musical comedy in the true Shakespearean sense. Everybody ends up happy, including the audience.
As previously mentioned, the curtain goes up Friday, April 19 at 8:00 pm. Subsequent evening performances are on April 20, 26, and 27, and May 3, 4, 10, and 11. Sunday shows will take place at two different times. April 28 will be a traditional matinee, running at 2:30 pm. May 5’s show will be at 6:00 pm. This is a musical and a good one, so I predict tickets will be hard to come by. Therefore, get your tickets early by going to www.actors-guild.com/ or calling the box office at 304-485-1300. And do it now!