Mamma Mia, here we go again. My, my, why can't they resist you?
Last night before the show at the Paramount, a voice on the PA told the audience to turn off cell phones, and then added: "We must also warn patrons with nervous dispositions that platform shoes and spandex are worn in this production." That provoked so many cheers and laughs and bursts of applause that my date said, "Oh my god, it's like a sporting event."
That excited, pre-show feeling was the best part of the night.
This has to be the most tediously heterosexual musical under the sun. As you probably know from seeing the movie, the story is set in motion by a young woman who's about to get married and is obsessed with surprises, reading other people's diaries, and the enchantments of love—the most boring kind of person. The show is process-heavy, the characters are slow-thinking, and the way the logic of the plot is distorted to justify the songs is frequently painful.
Also, the set is way too sparse for a musical that's made as much money as this one has. And act two, for no good reason at all, is endless. Plus, was there something funky with the sound last night at the Paramount? The harmonies on "Money, Money, Money" were so badly balanced I only heard the off-melody notes, very loudly, and I had great seats. Granted, the STG crew was on it: Over time, the problem got resolved.
But hearing the songs well didn't make things better.
As mentioned above, Cashelle Butler is hilarious as Tanya, the friend with plastic surgery and three millionaire ex-husbands. Her sex-goddess turn in the second half of act one, with all the beach-bum guys drooling over her, totally works. Maybe it works because one of the beach-bum guys starts doing toe-touch jumps over and over. He does like a dozen in a row. Somehow toe-touch jumps never get old.
That moment, combined with the late-in-act-one scene where the male backup dancers come out in shorty wetsuits and flipper fins and dance to "Lay All Your Love on Me," made me decide to stick around for act two.
Staying for act two was a mistake. When Sarah Smith, who is also hilarious (she's the one on the right in the photo at the top of this post), finally gets to have her moment in the spotlight, just before the wedding scene, so many wasted hours had gone by that I could hardly enjoy it. I was ready to drown the mom, the daughter, the three guys who might be the dad, the set designer, and whoever wrote the book in the Aegean Sea.