Ottawa Event Review: Mamma Mia! by Suzart Productions

Last night, I was transported from the bitter cold of Ottawa to the sunny, warm islands of Greece with Suzart’s most recent production, Mamma Mia!. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. This is THE BEST show that I have seen by Suzart to date! It was over two hours of musical magic, and I loved every minute of it! Now, I have occasionally been accused of being “overly positive” in my reviews, but I stand by them; I offer constructive criticism where appropriate, but in general, I take pride in the fact that my reviews reflect the average guy’s experience viewing a show. I’m not a theatre buff, per se, but I do know what I like, and this show was truly remarkable.

For those that may be unfamiliar, Mamma Mia! follows the story of Donna and Sophie, mother and daughter, in the days leading up to Sophie’s wedding. Sophie’s father has never been in the picture, and Sophie, after discovering that it could be one of three men, invites all three of them to her wedding without her mother’s knowledge. What ensues is a lot of confusion and a whole lot of hilarity.

If you read my reviews often, you most likely know that I typically include a “standout performances” section, where I acknowledge the performers who really did a phenomenal job. This review is slightly different, as I simply could not pick standouts from this phenomenal cast. Each and every member brought sparkle and life to their character, and really shone on stage. The casting for this show was spot on! The roles of Donna, Sophie, Rosie and Tanya seemed particularly well cast; each of these actors was perfect for their respective part!

I will mention some standout musical numbers, though! Although the entire show was fantastic, the songs, “Chiquitita,” “Does Your Mother Know,” and “The Winner Takes It All” were absolutely highlights for me! I laughed so hard during “Chiquitita,” it was so entertaining! I’d like to commend the performers of these songs for a job incredibly well done!

There have occasionally been issues in the past during Suzart productions of sound quality, whether that be the mics or the orchestra. These seem to have been resolved, as the sound was flawless for this performance. Every actor was mic’d, which meant that no lines were lost, and the orchestra, under the direction of Catherine Spear, was perfect. They were on the stage, which I really enjoyed; I loved seeing the musicians getting into the music, singing along at times, and just generally having a good time. Their timing was perfect, and not a note was off (that I noticed!) I was very impressed with the music.

Next, the choreography was really entertaining to watch! Kathryn McLaren made her choreographing debut in this show, and the audience seemed to love it! The ensemble members of the show seemed to be very talented dancers, so the execution was very strong as well.

The set design and the props for this show stood out as well. The set appears to be simplistic and functional, but it is elaborate in its design. The use of the dock/boardwalk was very well-suited for this show, and the fact that it moved with such ease was impressive. I will say that, while I always like Suzart’s sets, this one was my favourite.

I have to offer my kudos to the following directors/producers/designers who made this show a huge success: Cheryl Cavell, Jennifer Gabriel, Sarah Beuree, Rachel Rumstein, and Kristopher Tharris. You should all be so proud of this production. It exceeded my expectations in every way.

My ONLY criticism for this show is that most of its shows sold out! I totally understand that it is difficult to predict the success of a show before the run begins, but I think this is one of those shows that could have sold out two weekends, as opposed to just one! When I see a really great show, I enjoy telling my family and friends about it, and encouraging them to get out to see it as well; sometimes I will even see it a second time! This wasn’t an option this time due to the popularity of the show.

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