Tuesday, February 07, 2012

On Stage: Mamma Mia! is Love

The world loves Mamma Mia! The Musical and The Movie. OK, maybe not all (as evident in a newspaper column last Sunday of a lawyer and socio-political analyst who basically just “ranted” that he had to watch it as a dutiful husband). Anyway.

Mamma Mia! is one thing I will never get tired off. I know the songs by heart (by ABBA, the Swedish group that rose to fame in 1974 and disbanded in 1982). My exposure to ABBA’s songs was intensified when I was in the university and at the same time, spending countless sleepless nights in our university publication office, putting an issue to bed, fighting for our sanity, and with that, I heard Dancing Queen sang ala Mariah Carey, ala Miss Saigon, ala else.

I love the movie to bits. I love Pierce Brosnan even if he was fighting for his life singing S.O.S. with “the” Meryl Streep. The latter was a revelation – she had opera and ballet training and that she exceeded expectations as Donna Sheridan.

Thus, when I learned it was staging here, I simply could not wait. I wanted a very good seat however, the earliest date I liked to watch it had no premium seats left. I could not wait until the next weekend thus I got myself a lower box seat (left of stage). As I am familiar with the CCP Main Theater layout (having covered numerous events and was given a tour of the 42-year-old building when I was a newspaper lifestyle and entertainment writer, then became a magazine business and finance editor), so the seat I had was already good.

I am still high from Sunday’s musical. Here are six reasons why Mamma Mia! is so dear to me:
And they're all watching the smash hit musical 

The CCP Main Theater was eventually full and at the end of the musical, majority of the audience were on their feet, dancing and waving to the encore
  1. ABBA is ABBA. Period. They have disbanded a long time ago, but their music lives on. And thanks for the cooperation of ABBA’s genius duo, Björn Ulvaus and Benny Andersson to producer Judy Craymer, their discography's glory days continue with this phenomenal musical
  2. Mamma Mia! never fails to uplift me. When a former colleague gave me a copy of the Original Broadway cast recording, I shamelessly sang my heart out in my office workstation and I bobbed my head in much gusto. I was like that for two weeks straight and all the songs – even the overture and entr’acte – kept me company when I was beating deadlines and dealing with heavy, personal matters. Yesterday, I resurrected my iPod shuffle hoping I saved the album there, but no. Sad – must save later.
  3. Mamma Mia! is by women, for women, for all. Much praises were given to the musical, evident in its continuing success since 1999. Both the musical and the movie were mobilized by the women trio of Craymer as producer, Catherine Johnson as scripwriter, and Phyllida Lloyd as the director (who again directed Streep in The Iron Lady). Women across the globe and across races and generation have danced to Dancing Queen. They are either Donna, Sophie, Rosie, or Tanya at some point in their lives. Admittedly, the musical got majority of females as audience, but yes, admittedly too, thanks to the movie, it has become more endearing to the younger generation.
  4. The musical is about you, me, us. The men were not left out in this musical – the prolific duo of Ulvaus and Andersson as proof. The male audience could have been at one stage, Sam, Bill, Harry or Sky - even Pepper. At Sunday’s matinee, there was an old lady sitting on the second row facing the stage who bolted up during encore and danced proudly, and the rest of the audience – men, women, young and old – from the orchestra up to the second balcony – were dancing in their respective places. I wished they danced in the aisle, it could have been more fun!
  5. I’m Donna than Sophie. Yes, I identify more with Donna. She is real. She is a woman who fell in love, got her heart broken, became a single mom, was disowned by her mother (like my mother who almost disowned me for my stubbornness, haha). But she continued, raised Sophie as a beautiful daughter inside and out, kept a scenic tavern despite the hardships, and eventually, was reunited with her love, Sam. Her songs, Money, Money, Money, Dancing Queen (with the Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya), and above all, The Winner Takes It All, sum up her ups and downs in her life, and those are the songs I closely identify with.
  6. Mamma Mia! is fun. Need I say more? When strictly concerts and musicals prohibit clapping until an act is finished, or it is rude to cough or sneeze during the lull scenes, Mamma Mia! is nothing like that. Sunday’s audience was generous to express their appreciation by applauding one number almost after another. They expressed it even more during the encore, and the audience was wild when Ellie Leah (as Donna) asked, in Filipino, if they want more. Of course!!!
  7. More musicals. After this opening salvo of Mamma Mia!, the Philippine musical stage will be graced by another Broadway hit. Since I resolved to see more arts and culture events this year, so this is included. Can’t wait for this, too!
On standby for schedule and ticket prices

Mamma Mia! is staging at the CCP Main Theater until Sunday, February 19, 2012. For tickets, call CCP Box Office at (632) 832-3704 or check Ticketworld.                      

For my review of Mamma Mia! The Musical, please visit Rediscover.
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