Excellent voices, great dancing, an impressive set, enjoyable music by an immensely popular group, and a hilarious story of modern life in an attractive Mediterranean location — what more could an audience want, especially those in the audience whose kids were on stage. There was enthusiastic applause and much laughter for the Suffield High School Drama Club’s March 14 initial performance of Mamma Mia, the long-running musical dramedy by the popular Swedish group Abba, featuring their 1975 music.
Sophie has secretly invited three of her mother’s former lovers to her wedding on a Greek island where her mother runs a tavern, hoping she can learn which of them is her father, something even her mother, Donna, hasn’t figured out. It’s a situation that leads to lots of serious and hilarious discoveries but ends up happily for everyone.
Michaela Conway and Madison Zielinski, as Sophie and Donna, carried their demanding roles well, musically and dramatically. Ben Grigoriou, Jack Burke, and Jack Flanagan, as Sam, Bill, and Harry, the former lovers, did similarly well, especially Grigoriou’s beautiful singing. Burke added nicely to the comedy, and Flanagan showed good command of stage action and expression. Many others contributed importantly on stage to the success of this production and populated the large entourage of friends and townspeople who provided fine choral support and well-trained dance numbers — including what seems to the obligatory cartwheel or two.
The impressive set, in addition to the projected Mediterranean sky backdrop, included a large, two-story tavern, an ingenious, smoothly rotating house for exterior and interior scenes, and a decorative water fountain, actually flowing. All this was the result of talented design work by Mike Grigoriou and the impressive efforts of the big construction and backstage crew, led by technical director, master carpenter, and science teacher Joe Grimard. Other creative leadership was provided by artistic director Stephanie Holland, music director Mary DiRoberts, assistant director Lisa Muscarella, choreographer Kelly Blais, and costume mistress Lori Foss.
“Mamma Mia,” by the way, was Donna’s surprised response when she discovered that her ex-lovers had arrived for her daughter’s wedding.