‘MAMMA MIA!’ BRINGS BACK LIVE THEATRE TO LIVERMORE, THIS ENCORE PRODUCTION IS A PRE HOLIDAY TREAT
TRI VALLEY REP REOPENS THE GREEK TAVERNA
AS ABBA’S POP SCORE IS A SURE FALL
FAVORITE FOR FANS WHO CAN’T STOP DANCING AND SINGING ABBA HITS
“Here we go again” I am back at the Aegean sea island to see the encore wedding of the bride Sophie at the Villa as she searches for her real Dad. The Tri Valley Rep reopened the theater season with the hit musical MAMMA MIA! only through November 21st at the Livermore Bankhead Center for the Arts. The wedding of the year has been rocking Bay Area regional stages for 6 years now - and for a good reason. Audiences can’t wait to see this jukebox party, it is always a sell out hit for regional Theatres. Friday night at the Bankhead was a party “a rare sight” even with Covid restrictions in full gear, the Tri Valley fans filled the Bankhead opening night.
This encore production of MAMMA MIA! is produced by Tri Valleys Artistic Director Kathleen Breedveld. "I was told by the Bankhead staff that it had a two weekend window of opportunity to get back into doing a production, I didn't turn back and it has been a dream come true to come back to rehearsals and the cast, crew staff and Orchestra are having the time of their lives performing this infectiously fun production!" says Breedveld. Director Brian Olkowski says “In 2020 I was honored to direct this fun, energetic show. with a fabulous cast. We closed before the world changed with COVID. I am proud to say “Here we Go Again” and to direct this encore."
Music Director Sierra Dee brings the classic 80’s take to many of the hit ABBA songs. The classic wetsuit and flippers number “Lay All Your Love on Me” by the male cast is a highlight of the first act. Choreographed by the clever Meghan Hornbacker who brings a high energy disco to the dance portion of MAMMA MIA! Olkowski highlights this busy cast and pushes the featured actors and songs up front and introduces a more energized groom to add to this Broadway fan favorite.
HISTORY: After 5,770 world wide performances, MAMMA MIA! received two Drama Desk Awards and five Tony Award Nominations. The popular 2008 movie starring Meryl Streep and the sequel has introduced a new generation to the music of ABBA. With icon hits like “Mamma Mia,” and “SOS,” the cast of twenty does not disappoint at this wedding bash.
This short review won’t include any story info, we know Sophie wants to meet her real dad so he can be at her wedding. I will keep to the point and mention the actors and some of their performances. The 23 member first rate cast includes some of the Bay Area’s best talent including the gifted Annemarie Martin encore performance as Donna, the owner of the villa. Her voice is riveting in the banner song “Mamma Mia”, and “Dancing Queen”.
The terrific bay area favorite Melissa Momboisse is Donna’s daughter, the bride Sophie. The three dads, Sam played by the marvelous Robert Lopez, the accomplished Mathew Kelly plays Harry, and Bill is played by the keen Mike Freeman. All three dads and Sophie sing the banner song “Thanks for the Memories” Hornbacker’s dance team is on que in this number and all 28 songs.
The handsome groom, Sky, is played by the remarkable Antonio Rodriquez III who brings a fresh new attitude, to the “boy friend” groom. The arch of Sky in the past gets lost, his role tends to be in the shadow of the story. Rodriguez and director Olkowski brought new energy to the groom and Rodriquez stole the show in many of the large dance numbers including Voulez-Vous.
The two Villa boys Eddie and Pepper are polished in this show, the Tri Valley vets play the two local boys who flirt with Donna’s girl pals. The gifted dancer Elijah Maravilla plays Pepper, the pool boy that loves the older women, alongside Appleyard he steals the number “Does Your Mother Know”. Leo Diaz plays Eddie, the boss of toppless Villa staff. Diaz and his boys bring those flippers in “Lay Your Love On Me” a special flair as they escort the groom Sky to his bachelor party.
The chorus and dance ensemble are an important part of this MAMMA. They dominate the two act show dressed in island dance clothes designed by Patricia Krohn-Pope and her team of dressers including Joan Brown, Ronna Lagin, and MaryKay Steveson. One of the highlights of the costume design includes the fall color scheme on the ensemble for the 2nd act wedding.
The vibrant ensemble includes; Jonny Banuelos, Alise Bradford, JD Cerruti, Michelle Freschi, Julian Hensley, Meghan Hornbacker, Emma Kelly, Amanda Ross, Kyle Herrera, Daelyn Cerruti and Gwynn Cristobal who plays Father Alexandrios. They all bring a new arch to the ABBA hit songs. Hornbacker stages many of the numbers with a 80’s pop feel that warms this island Villa disco. The classic “Super Trouper” is a highlight of the first Act.
Momboisse shines in her songs “Honey Honey” and “Name of the Game” they are upbeat as she gives a fresh take to her character. Sophie's two gal pals Ali and Lisa are played by the enthusiastic Jessie Anne Lukban and the vibrant Jasmine Reyes who back up Sophie in “Money Money Money”. This encore production includes most of the 2020 cast. Producer Breedveld used a mix of new players and some vets of Tri Valley shows.
Macry’s big voice as Donna delivers in “Winner Takes It All”. Her two best friends Rosie and Tanya played by the superb Rachelle King and Lisa Appleyard rock in the classic “Dancing Queen” and get to the disco fun as soon as they discover their boa’s. Director Olkowski keeps the large cast moving and the company dance numbers are all impressive and dazzling.
The rich blue tone of the villa is highlighted by the ensemble, but the set adds to the island ocean feel. Lighting designer Erica Engel adds the disco feel to the uplifting final 80’s party. Music director Dee has a full force pit of five musicians including herself on keyboard that fill the Bankhead theatre with ABBA hits. The musicians include Chris Ansuini, Chris Kuo, James Schulz and Taylor Rankin. Dee’s’ direction is infectious with that ABBA disco beat in “I Do, I Do, I Do” and SOS.
The curtain call ABBA mosh mix is always a standing ovation celebration. The audience dancing in their seats during the finale has become a ritual, the audience is easily one of the stars of this show. This company will not disappoint in this encore version of MAMMA MIA!. Next up at TVRT is the Fosse treat DAMN YANKEES that opens April 30th. MAMMA MIA! is always a treat no matter how many times you attend this wedding. Few tickets remain for the final weekend performance, book your seats today. Bring your own flower bouquet for Sophie and Sky.
Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre Presents
Music by ABBA
Music and Lyrics by
Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvanus
Book by Catherine Johnson
Directed by Brian Olkowski
Produced by Kathleen Breedveld
Musical Director: Sierra Dee-Rankin
Choreographer: Meghan Hornbacker
Must Close November 21st
PERFORMED AT THE BANKHEAD THEATER
2400 FIRST STREET, LIVERMORE, CA 94550
Runs Two hours with one intermission
Photos by BOB BRONZAN
VMEDIA ARTS INTERVIEWS THE CAST
GO SEE A SHOW - with Ethan Le and Xun Zhang
Donna Sheridan: Annmarie Macry
Sophie Sheridan: Melissa Momboisse
Tanya: Lisa Appleyard
Rosie:: Rachelle King
Sam Carmichael: Robert Lopez
Harry Bright: Matthew Kelly
Bill Austin: Mike Freeman
Sky:. Tony Rodriguez
Ali: Jessie Anne Lukban
Lisa: Jasmine Reyes
Pepper: Elijah Maravilla
Eddie: Leo Diaz
F. Alexandrious is played by Gwynn Cristobal
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER KATHLEEN BREEDVELD
full welcome back statement:
When I was told by the Bankhead staff that it had a two weekend window of opportunity to get back into doing a production, I knew that we would never be able to recoup a investment on a new production with such a short run, but then I remembered a conversation I had just had with our original Donna, Annmarie Martin, who had said to me that she would do the role of Donna again in a heartbeat and that got me thinking. I knew that the show had been overwhelmingly popular and I could probably get the set and costumes easily and once I secured those items, I contacted the original staff, all of whom were enthusiastically excited at the prospect of doing the show again. Then I contacted the original cast and found we would need to replace about 10 of the original cast since several had either moved out of state due to Covid, some went away to college or some for personal reasons could not return. I didn't turn back and it has been a dream come true to come back to rehearsals and the cast, crew staff and Orchestra are having the time of their lives performing this infectiously fun production!