'Mamma Mia!' is heading to Sarasota

The hit musical overflows with great songs by Abba

October 24, 2013 

People who have never seen a stage version of "Mamma Mia!" have reason to be wary.

It's the quintessential jukebox musical, a genre that includes more bad shows than good ones.

Besides, Abba, whose songs populate "Mamma Mia!," created records that were complicated, with layers of vocal and instrument overdubs and songs that were notoriously challenging to sing.

And finally, the movie version was pretty dismal, despite gorgeous scenery and the presence of Meryl Streep.

But on stage, "Mamma Mia!" is a delight. Touring productions have featured phenomenal casts that do amazing jobs of re-creating the Abba sound.

It's heading our way again, coming to Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for two shows, Oct. 29 and 30.

In case you care, the story has to do with a young woman, raised on a Greek island by her single mother, who contrives to find out which of three men is her father. She surreptitiously invites all three to her wedding.

Every Abba hit is included, along with some great album tracks.

Here's a tip for getting the most out of the shows: Stay until they very end. If you leave before the curtain call, you'll miss a lot of the best stuff.

Details: 8 p.m. Oct. 29-30, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $55-$85. Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.

-- Marty Clear

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