‘Mamma Mia!’ entertains sold out crowd


 Flashing neon lights, tall white platform boots and spandex of all shades; this was the spectacle that hundreds of people came to see Monday night in McCain Auditorium.

The Broadway musical “Mamma Mia!” sold out as the cast stopped in Manhattan to perform the songs of Swedish pop group ABBA. The standing ovation in the packed theater gave way to a host of encore performances, turning the musical into a full concert.

“Mamma Mia!” tells the fictional story of a girl on a mission to find the identity of her biological father, a secret her mother has kept from her throughout her life. The characters in the show narrate, converse and even argue not only though dialogue, but through the music of ABBA’s most popular and recognized songs.

The musical was adapted into the well-known movie in 2008. The auditorium was filled with audience members who were buzzing with anticipation about the music and cast, and the appeal of seeing the original stage version captivated some audience members such as Debbie Pickrell, Manhattan resident.

“I had seen the movie,” Pickrell said. “This is my first time seeing the stage version. Obviously doing it this way will be harder.”

Pickrell said that she was looking forward to seeing how the stage version would accommodate elements that were in the movie.

“The movie had things like water, and other things that can’t be on stage, but this will still be exciting,” Pickrell said.

The lights dimmed, the sound of an electric keyboard began the overture and the crowd took their seats as the set was revealed.

The staging for the musical comprised of two set pieces which were manually revolved by the cast. The set pieces were rearranged throughout the show to create a beach, a hotel, a wedding aisle and a dance floor. Some audience members had never seen the film version, and had no idea what to expect.

“I never saw the movie, but I like this,” said Jamone Lipsey, junior in life sciences. “The only things I’ve ever seen on stage are ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Fall of the House of Usher’ and ‘The Lion King,’ but this has a lot of energy.”

The “Mamma Mia!” cast featured Kaye Tuckerman and Chloe Tucker in lead roles. Tuckerman has previously appeared in touring productions of “The Boy From Oz,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Les Miserables.” Tucker began touring as Sophie Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!” in 2002.

“To ask where we’ve been is hard,” said Rick Anderson, an official merchandise salesman who had been with the cast since 2001. “To ask where we haven’t been is a better question. I’ve been off and on with this cast for 10 years, and people love this show.”

Anderson was in the McCain lobby before and after the show and during intermission, selling “Mamma Mia!” items: T-shirts, soundtracks, seen-on-stage props like long, pink feather boas and official Broadway playbills.

Whether or not audience members had seen the movie did not prevent them from enjoying and appreciating the stage version.

“My favorite part is the music,” Pickrell said. “Some of the songs here are a little bit different than the movie, but this has all been very good.”

The stage adaptation takes advantage of more than the actor’s voices. To go along with the ABBA sound, vibrant costumes and make-up were utilized to add for entertainment. Before the night was over, the audience was able to witness bright pink go-go outfits, deep blue scuba suits and men in wedding dresses.

“I like the costumes,” Lipsey said. “There was one scene that reminded me of Chaka Khan and Lady Marmalade.”

The cast’s energy, precision and delivery of punch lines kept the audience laughing and talking. The audience for the event ranged widely in age. There was a balanced mix of K-State students and Manhattan residents, many of whom brought their families.

The liveliness of the performance and the vibrance of the sets and costumes drew a standing ovation from the audience, to which the cast responded with a 10-minute-long encore performance. The actors urged the audience to sing, wave their hands and clap along.

“I see this show all the time,” Anderson said. “I watch this cast every night, and every night they deliver that energy. People are leaving happy, I’m happy, you’re happy, everyone loves it.”