The Hippo


May 31, 2020








 Mamma Mia! 

Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
When: Now through May 6, with showtimes on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., with an additional show on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. 
Tickets: Shows through April 22 are $39 to $46 for adults and $25 for children ages 6 through 12; shows April 26 through May 6 are $44 to $51 for adults and $30 for children. 
More info:, 668-5588

Watch that scene
Palace Theatre takes on jukebox classic Mamma Mia!


 The Palace Theatre professional company pays homage to the music of 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA in its debut production of Mamma Mia!, running now through May 6 at the Manchester theater. 

The jukebox musical, written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, opened on Broadway in 2001 and made its regional debut in 2016. It features 28 ABBA songs, including hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and, of course, “Mamma Mia.” 
The story, set on a Greek island, follows a young woman named Sophie, who is engaged to be married. She dreams of the perfect wedding at which her father walks her down the aisle — but first, she has to discover who her father is. Poring through her mother Donna’s old diaries, Sophie narrows her possible fathers down to three men. She invites them all to the wedding, without her mother’s knowledge, expecting to recognize her real father right away, but the answer is not as clear as she thought it would be. 
Though Mamma Mia! is new to the Palace Theatre, lead actors Andrew Tebo and Lauren Wright are no strangers to the musical; they both performed in the National Tour production for several years. 
Tebo has returned to his role as Harry Brunt, the English banker with a secret, and one of Sophie’s possible fathers. 
“I’m excited to be playing him again, because I think he has one of the best arcs in the show,” Tebo said. “He comes to the island stuck in this certain way — uptight and conservative and everything you would imagine a staunch English banker to be — but being on the island lets him relive his glory days and reminds him of a time when he was able to be free.” 
Wright is playing Sophie for the first time, a “dream role,” she said, that she hoped she would have the opportunity to play since she first saw a production of Mamma Mia! while in middle school. 
“Sophie is a really interesting and challenging character because there’s so much going on with her, and so many different relationships and secrets with different people,” Wright said. “She’s determined to figure out this big secret of who her father is, and I think she finds out that it’s a lot bigger than herself.” 
The music in Mamma Mia! consists of complex harmonies, the same as they are in the original ABBA songs, performed by a live orchestra and vocal ensemble, on and off stage. As far as musicals go, the score is exceptionally challenging, Tebo said, but pays due respect to the music of ABBA that many people know and love. 
“ABBA wrote some amazing melodies and harmonies, and I don’t think people realize how intricate and layered they are.” he said. “The importance of the show is to honor ABBA’s music, and having the orchestra and whole ensemble behind us really keeps with that classic ABBA sound.” 
While the Palace production is staying largely true to the original Broadway production, the director did add his own spin on the choreography, which Wright said was a big change for her, but a welcome one. 
“The choreography for the songs is way different from any previous tour I’ve done, so that’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s very high energy and more pedestrian. It gets the audience on their feet and makes them feel like they could jump up on stage with us.” 
Whether you appreciate ABBA’s music or not, Wright said, the story in Mamma Mia! is “a beautiful story of heart and love” that appeals to a wide audience. 
“It has something for everyone. You can bring your mom, your dad, your grandma, and everyone will find a character that they relate to,” she said. “It’s an amazing time, and an amazing experience to be a part of.” 

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