The disco era is alive again at the Arvada Center, with the debut of Mamma Mia on the main stage. Built on a foundation of hits from Swedish band, ABBA, the story centers around Sophie Sheridan, a 20-year-old young woman who is about to get married, and her mother Donna, who can’t understand why she’d want to tie the knot so young. Raised without knowing who her father is, the musical opens with Sophie mailing letters to her three possible fathers, who she learns about by reading an old diary of Donna’s. She hopes they’ll come to her wedding, and when they do, she’ll immediately know who her father is. When all three men show up and Sophie still isn’t sure, their arrival makes things much more complicated for Sophie and Donna than they ever thought possible.
Featuring strong female leads with powerful singing voices, glittering, colorful ’70s-era costumes, solid bonds with female friends, and love stories for both generations, Mamma Mia would make a fun moms’ night out, mother/teen daughter night, or date night.
If you’ve seen the movie, the story and music are similar, but with added details exclusive to the stage. You’ll laugh at the young male ensemble’s number in scuba gear and the endearingly awkward dance moves of Harry. Sophie’s dream sequence brings an unexpected twist, as do a few on-stage acrobatics from the boys (my own teen daughter liked this). The beautiful, spinning set of Donna’s guest house-turned-bedroom is reminiscent of a wedding cake. You’ll root for Donna to end up with her true love, and there’s a mini ABBA sing-along at the end that will have you on your feet.
For parents bringing younger children, be aware that there are many sexual innuendos. There is also suggestive dancing throughout, including a sexy scene between a young man and a woman old enough to be his mother, and just a little bit of language. But if you’re comfortable with your kids seeing the movie, I think you’ll be comfortable with them seeing the musical, too.
Don’t forget to point younger audience members to the music director, located in the center of the stage floor. You can see him directing the small orchestra beneath the stage and the actors in the scenes, as well as playing a keyboard. At home, encourage your kids to learn more about behind-the-scenes production by watching the Making of Mamma Mia! short video.
What you need to know:
See Mamma Mia! on the main stage Sept. 7-30. Performances Tue-Sat at 7:30 p.m., Wed at 1 p.m., Sat-Sun at 2 p.m. Talk Backs with cast and crew members Sept. 18, 26, and 27. Tickets starting at $53. Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. 720-898-7200.