Mamma Mia - musical review (Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas) - March, 2003

We headed off to Mandalay Bay because my husband and I were seeing "Mamma Mia" that evening (we'd already seen the show in two venues in Los Angeles and love the show), so we went to the will-call area of the theatre to pick up our tickets.  When we had ordered our tickets, we couldn't pick exact seats but rather could only request sections.  We had asked for the orchestra section, so when we got our tickets, we were thrilled that we had awesome seats - fifth row, right of center on the aisle.  After dinner with friends, we bid them goodbye and headed for our show.  They have a small store outside the entrance, and we had peeked at the merchandise from outside a bit earlier.  There wasn't much that hadn't already been available at the other shows, but I did notice a short-sleeve black shirt that had "Mamma Mia" in sparkles on the front and "Las Vegas" in small sparkles on one sleeve that was really cute, so I picked that up.

This production of "Mamma Mia" is performed at the Mandalay Bay Theatre, which is beautifully done with a gorgeous theatre and lobby area.  I very much enjoyed this performance of the show.  The actress who played Donna was very good, and she looked and sang very much like one of the original female members of Abba.  The actor who played Sam made the character a bit different than I'd seen him portrayed previously.  This Sam was not quite as cynical, and the actor was a better singer and seemed more at ease.  The actress who played Donna's jet-setter friend was much less about providing comic relief than the actress I'd seen in other productions, though both characterizations fit just as well.  This actress was also one heck of a singer and dancer.  The actress who played Sophie had a voice that was slightly higher than I prefer, but she was still good.  And the actor who played her fiance Sky looked a heck of a lot like a young Tom Cruise.  It was also fun to see that I knew the show well enough to notice a slight difference in staging.  In the sequence with the song "Chiquitita", one of Donna's friends has a leg mishap, but in this production, the mishap is given to the non-glamorous friend instead of the jet-setter.  I think the change worked well because given the different characterization of the jet-setter friend, that bit of comedy would have seemed misplaced with her.  I really loved that because we had such good seats, we were close enough where we could plainly see the facial expressions on all the actors and also the smaller bits of "business" that they do.  As much as I liked the show before, it made it even more enjoyable to see the nuances.  We were happy that we saw this show with a good crowd, and that for a 10:30pm show on a Monday night of a non-holiday, the theatre was mostly full.  The first time we'd seen the show, the crowd was very much into the music and everything.  The second time, the crowd was ok, but much more subdued.  This crowd laughed in all the right places and reacted well to all the various bits, and many people got up and danced at the end.  By the time the show was over, we ended up leaving at about 12:30am.

I would definitely recommend this show and this theatre to anyone.  (We're actually going to see the show again when it comes around to the Orange County Performing Arts Center this summer, and we're planning to see it yet again when it comes to the Pantages Theatre next year.  And if it's still playing when we go back to Vegas next year, we'd consider going again.  Have I mentioned that we really like this show?)  The only bad part of the experience occurred during intermission.  I was happy that through dinner and at the beginning of the show, I had started to feel better than I had in the afternoon, as I really wanted to enjoy the show.  At intermission, I was starting to feel bad again, so I knew I needed another dose of medication, so I stood in line to buy bottled water.  It somehow never occurred to me that they'd have drinking fountains until my husband mentioned it to me later, but I guess I was just so focused on needing water for the medication.  Being a captive audience, I expect to pay more for water than normal, but I was completely unprepared to pay $3.50 for a mini bottle of water, the exact same size bottle that we'd paid $.29 for that afternoon at a convenience store.  I ended up getting a cup of ice with it as well, and I drank every last drop of that bottle and all the melted ice to get my full money's worth.


For the review of the musical as performed at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in October 2002, please click here.


An excerpt from the 2003 Las Vegas trip report.


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