By Ben Rimalower
31 Aug 2013
Carolee Carmello as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!!
I am not a huge fan of Mamma Mia!! I love all those ABBA songs and appreciate the self-mocking, light-hearted manner in which the show incorporates them, but even with a terrific original cast including Louise Pitre, Judy Kaye and Karen Mason, I was unmoved and bored... and downright Grinch-like during the extended curtain call mega-mix! I couldn't resist a return visit, though, when Carolee Carmello took over as Donna Sheridan. Carmello's gorgeous, supple, wide-ranging voice defies categorization and is rarely less than thrilling. What's more, she exudes a warmth in her stage presence that is extremely appealing. I imagine if she'd been around in the 40s and 50s, Rodgers and Hammerstein might have thrown her a couple of roles. It's a testament to her vocal versatility that ABBA's 70s disco pop is equally in her wheelhouse. My interest in Carmello deepened my investment in the story and gave me a more satisfying experience of Mamma Mia!! than the first time I saw it (or the movie starring Meryl Streep!) straight through to my goose bumps at Carmello's stunning "The Winner Takes It All." I even tapped my toes during the mega-mix! Continued...