Allison Rich as Tanya and Michael Wu as Pepper

Collins Photography

Allison Rich as Tanya and Michael Wu as Pepper

‘Mamma Mia!’

PCPA Has a Midsummer Hit with ABBA

The Solvang Festival Theater becomes a Mediterranean island for PCPA’s Mamma Mia!, and the capacity audience on opening night was more than happy to be transported there by a beautiful production, some hilarious choreography, and an excellent cast. Molly Dobbs dances and sings her way through the demanding role of Sophie Sheridan as though she were having the time of her life, and Melinda Parret, as Donna Sheridan, brings depth, strong feelings, and great comic timing to the show’s other protagonist. Together they provide the double center for a whirling galaxy of star turns, like Allison Rich and Kitty Balay as Tanya and Rosie, the Dynamos of Donna’s performing days, who are back to prowl, kvetch, and generally enliven the proceedings as Donna’s best friends.

The plot hinges on a mystery — which of the three men Sophie has invited to the wedding is her father? — and for it to work, those guys have to be equally interesting, but in three distinct ways. Michael Tremblay (as Harry Bright), Erik Stein (as Bill Austin), and Tim Fullerton (as Sam Carmichael) all succeed not only in distinguishing themselves, but in coming together with the rest of the cast to create an unforgettable ensemble experience. The stage repeatedly comes alive with full cast numbers, and they’re uniformly jubilant, even when things get dark and the party goes after-hours, as in “Gimme Gimme Gimme.” All the ABBA hits make an appearance, some altered to fit the story, and others simply celebrated on their own as numbers that Donna and the Dynamos used to do. It’s a winning combination and just the right thing for a midsummer night under the stars in Solvang.

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