But Mamma Mia! is so bloody dumb. It exists to string together the biggest hits of ABBA — songs by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus that include the title number, “The Winner Takes It All,” “S.O.S.” and “Knowing Me Knowing You.” It doesn’t particularly bother me that the plot is absurd: Sophie, a young woman about to marry, doesn’t know who her father is, and so, after peeking into her mother's diary, she invites the three men recorded as one-time lovers to her wedding, without telling her mother, Donna. The men arrive. Donna’s upset, and Sophie’s strategem also angers her own fiance, Sky. Yet all three of Donna’s ex-lovers are keen to be named father and walk Sophie down the aisle. A lot of dancing, singing and general futzing around in neon-bright costumes ensues.
Many good musicals have even dopier plot lines, but they compensate with comedy, wit and memorable songs. All of this is lacking in Mamma Mia!, though clearly the high-grossing musical has over the years attracted swarms of ABBA fans, many of whom were clapping and swaying in the audience when I visited BDT. The dialogue is flat, and there’s more sentimentality than humor, though the high-octane musical numbers are often funny.
Most entertaining of all are Joanie Brousseau-Rubald and Alicia K. Meyers as Rosie and Tanya, respectively, the old pals who were once in a girl group with Donna. Meyers is always fun to watch, and posturing, purring, thrice-married Tanya is a perfect fit for her. Brousseau-Rubald manages to be both utterly farcical and flesh-and-blood womanly at the same time. It makes for one of the best scenes of the evening when these two join with Warren’s Donna for a glittering performance of “Dancing Queen.” Still, the funniest scene would be Rosie’s demented and uninhibited sexual pursuit of Beyette’s Bill for the number “Take a Chance on Me.” He’s at first shocked and a little put off, but rapidly realizes that this crazy, vital woman is a pretty good deal.
Mamma Mia! is a sugar rush, a giant hot fudge sundae that’s more whipped cream and colored sprinkles than anything else. Taken on that level, it’s fun...if not satisfying for long.
Mamma Mia!, presented by BDT Stage through February 22, 2020, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, bdtstage.com.