Will L.A. critics react strongly to Mamma Mia!, the British hit making its way into the U.S. via the West Coast? Feb. 26, the infectious British musical composed entirely of popular ABBA tunes, opens its second leg at Los Angeles' Shubert Theatre. Performances began Feb. 22 for a run through April 22.
Tickets are $40-$70. The Shubert Theatre is located at 2020 Avenue of the Stars. For reservations, call (800) 447-7400. Mamma Mia! is on the web at http://www.mamma mia.com. The show has already announced a two-week extension of its summer run in Chicago.
The U.S. company of Mamma Mia! was mostly harvested from the original Toronto cast. They their home for the U.S. Nov. 4, where Dora winner Louise Pitre and newcomer Tina Maddigan head up the new staging.
Pitre and Maddigan, a Toronto theatre vet and a newcomer, respectively, lead the Mamma Mia! mother-daughter team around whom the plot is focused. They join a cast that includes Adam Brazier, Gary Lynch, Lee MacDougall, Mary Ellen Mahoney, David Mucci and Gabrielle Jones. A Dora Mavor Moore Award winner for both Piaf and Blood Brothers, Pitre's 20 years of credits include musical theatre stints with Les Miserables, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd and Cabaret.
This is Maddigan's first major role. She graduated in 1998 as a Musical Theatre major at Sheridan College.
Brazier (as Sky) is a Stratford Festival vet whose credits there include Romeo and Juliet, Camelot and Man of La Mancha. Lynch (Sam Carmichael) portrayed Javert on Broadway and has toured the U.S. as El Gallo in The Fantasticks. Playwright MacDougall (Harry Bright) won the 1996 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play for High Life and most recently appeared on the Royal Alexandra stage in Damn Yankees. Mahoney (Tanya) starred in the Royal Alexandra's Crazy For You, also performing on the Royal Alex stage in The Heidi Chronicles and Singin’ and Dancin’ Tonight. She won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for her appearance in A Little Night Music and was nominated as the lead in Beckett's Happy Days. Mucci (Bill Austin) performed on Broadway in both Ragtime and Buddy and nears his 2000th performance at the Royal Alexandra, the most shows by an actor on that stage. Jones, last at the Royal Alexandra in Les Miserables, has spent six seasons with the Shaw Festival and four with the Stratford festival.
The ensemble features Charles Azulay, Danny Balkwill, Karen Burthwright, Jordan Cable, Nadia Duggin, Kelly Fletcher, Tracey Flye, Howard Kaye, Lisa Kisch, Nadine Roden, David Rosser, Monique Lund, Matt Murray, Daniel Jason O’Keefe, Craig Ramsay, Jennifer Toulmin, Astrid Van Wieren and Shawn Wright.
Mamma Mia! collects a couple dozen hit songs by the Swedish supergroup ABBA and shapes them around the story of a single mother and her young daughter's marriage on a Greek isle. While the daughter plans her future with the love of her life, she and her mother are haunted by three different men who may or may not be her daughter's father.
Among the songs used in Mamma Mia! are such familiar 70s staples as "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "S.O.S.," "Take a Chance on Me" and "The Winner Takes It All."
Andersson and Ulvaeus, the songwriting half of ABBA, previously wrote the musical Chess, which enjoyed an extended run at the Prince Edward in the 1980s in a production directed by Trevor Nunn, currently artistic director of the National Theatre.
Mamma Mia! is directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. It is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
Just days before the closing of Cats, Mamma Mia! finally announced its official Broadway intentions: the show will open at the renovated Winter Garden Theatre Oct. 18, 2001.
Here's the current Mamma Mia! tour schedule:
May 18-July 7: Chicago's Shubert Theatre
July 2001: Washington, D.C.
Sept. 2001: Boston, MA