Category Archives: Mamma Mia!

Guest Blog: MAMMA MIA!’s Thomasina Gross

I am ecstatic to be back in my hometown of Chicago with the Broadway touring company of MAMMA MIA! Ever since I learned the Windy City would be on our 2011-2012 Season, I knew that this week would represent a dream come true.

As a youngster growing up in the inner city, I was molded by this towering city, all the while guided by hopeful, supportive parents who fought hard to show me a better life outside of our tough neighborhood. With their encouragement, I would go on to attend music and dance classes, eventually studying at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. The lessons I learned there impact me to this day.

Chicago is also home to my commercial career… It is here that I began working in television, creating a foundation that has allowed me to succeed in the extremely competitive atmosphere of Los Angeles, where I’ve booked appearances on programs like Fox’s GLEE. Ironically, Chicago also launched my stage career, which lead me far from home and has taken me not only all over the U.S, but all over Europe as well. So it is such a gift to step on the stage of the historically restored Oriental Theater, where legends have performed in front of my family, friends and teachers. It feels like a celebration that’s come full circle.

In Mamma Mia!, I am in the ensemble and understudy the role of Ali, one of Sophie’s best friends. Being in this enormously popular musical is rewarding in a million different ways:  I get to travel. I do what I love 8 shows a week. And I’ve inherited a talented, multi-cultural cast as my second family, people I learn from and can rely on. Touring is such an eye opening experience.

I hope you enjoy the show as much as I enjoy performing it for you. And for the record, my favorite part of the musical is rocking out in the finale in a big Abba medley we like to call “the mega mix”. The rush I get when the audience gets on its feet, waving feather boas and wearing sequins, singing the songs word for word, is a moment that defies description.

All in all, not a bad way to make a living.

Thomasina Gross

MAMMA MIA! plays the Oriental Theatre January 24-29, 2012. Click here or call 800-775-2000 for tickets.

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Where in the World are Gemma and Eileen?

The Broadway In Chicago team went underground at the end of the summer, working hard to bring THE BOOK OF MORMON to Chicago! 

In the fall they’re usually seen at every event in the city – but they’ve gone missing. Rumor has it that they’re buried under group sales orders for THE BOOK OF MORMON.  Plus, there’s also the launch of an amazing new season to attend to – a new season which Time Out Chicago calls “edgier” than usual.

AMERICAN IDIOT: February 7 – 19, 2012

SOUTH PACIFIC: February 14 – 26, 2012

BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL: March 6 – 25, 2012

FELA!: March 27 – April 8, 2012

JERSEY BOYS: April 5 – June 2, 2012

THE BOOK OF MORMON: Starting December 2012

Off-Season Specials:

IN THE HEIGHTS: January 10 – 15, 2012

MAMMA MIA!: January 24 – 29, 2012

RIVERDANCE: March 13 – 18, 2012

CATS: May 1 – 6, 2012

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ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia!’ still darn good fun

Mary Houlihan

Chicago Sun-Times

9-18-08

“Mamma Mia!” is what it is. And that would be darn good fun. Of all the so-called “jukebox musicals,” this one has proved to be the longest lasting, keeping its fans dancing in the aisles.

ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus had a money-making brainstorm when they fit the group’s classics into a fun-loving musical. Even those who weren’t fans of the ’70s Swedish supergroup were won over by the musical’s sassy good time.

While the plot (the book is by Catherine Johnson) remains as implausible as ever, it is shielded by an onslaught of ABBA songs. It seems there’s nothing a little “Dancing Queen” or “SOS” can’t fix.

A touring production of “Mamma Mia!” has played Chicago a handful of times. This time around, Chicago actress Susie McMonagle is featured in the role of Donna Sheridan, an expatriate American and single mom who has raised her daughter, Sophie, on a small Greek island where she owns a small hotel.

Sophie (a standout performance by Rose Sezniak) is about to marry a young man named Sky (a likable Geoffrey Hemingway), and she’s determined to have the perfect wedding. She’s stolen her mother’s diary and discovered that in 1979, the year she was conceived, there were three men in her mother’s life: Sam the American architect (John Hemphill), Bill the Australian adventurer (Martin Kildare) and Harry the British banker (a nice turn by Chicago actor Michael Aaron Lindner).

Unbeknownst to her mother and bent on finding out who her father is, she writes all three men and invites them to the wedding. One, she hopes, will walk her down the aisle.

What follows are the usual complications and surprises but no dark moments; this is an infectious musical from beginning to end.

Unlike other musicals where songs advance the storyline and express characters emotions, several of the ABBA songs lyrics-wise are a longshot fit. Most notably “Name of the Game” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” although Hemphill sings it beautifully.

Other songs fit nicely with the storyline and characters. The number “Money, Money, Money” seems custom-made for Donna’s single-mom story. And “Lay All Your Love on Me” is a perfect song for young lovers Sophie and Sky. It gets an added pop with a chorus line outfitted in flippers and wet suits.

McMonagle, who has proven her worth in many Chicago theaters, displays pure spunk as Donna who is blindsided when the three men from her past show up. She has the richest role and makes the most of it. Her touching and bittersweet rendition of “The Winner Takes It All,” sung to Sam, the man she still loves, is striking.

Sezniak, who quit a bartending job in January to go on tour, is an up-and-coming singer-actress to watch. Her scenes with her mother and boyfriend are true moments of emotional connection. And it doesn’t get much better than her rendition of “Thank You for the Music.”

In the end, “Mamma Mia!” is the ultimate good time musical that does the ultimate job of hiding its warts. Don’t analyze it too closely; just sit back and enjoy.

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Mamma Mia! makes an irresistable return to Chicago

Broadway World
Paul W. Thompson
9-18-08

Playing Wednesday through September 28, 2008 at the landmarked, architecturally and culturally significant Auditorium Theatre, the bus and truck tour of the smash hit musical “Mamma Mia!” (based on the songs of ABBA by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus) is pretty much the same production that is playing in 11 different spots around the world, save a set piece or two. And Chicago theater’s latest gift to the world, the saucy and engaging Susie McMonagle (nine Jeff nominations to her credit) plays Donna with all the star power wielded by Meryl Streep in the recent film version and with much more vocal charisma.

This is a pretty tight tour as tours go, all in all. Phyllida Lloyd’s direction of the exposition-heavy book by Catherine Johnson keeps everything moving as much as possible in the sometimes disorienting first act. But just prior to the intermission, the stakes go up and the characters become suddenly real, and the show continues levitating in a straight trajectory until that curtain call/megamix moment. The sets and costumes (“production design”) by Mark Thompson evoke the Mediterranean, albeit a slightly fairy tale one, with an assist from Howard Harrison’s bright lighting. There is very loud sound design by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken, and music director Susan Draus leads the orchestra, joyfully bringing to life ABBA songs like “Chiquitita,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Name Of the Game” and of course the title song.

The young singing and dancing chorus emits much appeal and energy, though to be fair it is sometimes unclear exactly who they are and why they are there. The opening night audience certainly had a fine time with “Mamma Mia!,” and the show may actually play better than it did before, now that this summer’s hit film version of the show has been seen by so many people. (Worries about the connection between vintage Swedish pop songs and Greek islands seem to have faded since the show’s 1999 London debut.)

For all ABBA fans, for women of all ages, for those looking for a little eye and ear candy, and for those looking for a painless way to spend a few hours with some old and new friends, this “Mamma Mia!” will do the trick. This month Chicago is seeing the most Broadway and Broadway-bound productions that we have simultaneously hosted in who knows how long, and this one is once again a welcome visitor. It means us no harm, and it pleases us if we let it. Savor it, Chicago. It’s “Mamma Mia!”  It may be our “Waterloo,” but we should all say, “Thank You For the Music.”

 

ShowBiz Chicago
Michael J. Roberts
8-18-09

Break out your best polyester, Mamma Mia! returns to Chicago and it is better than ever.  After almost a decade since its West End premier, the ABBA based musical has been seen by over 32 million people worldwide and an average of 17,000 attend show every single night.  With the film version also becoming one of the summers box office blockbusters (to this reviewer’s dismay) Mamma Mia!  is an infectious and delightful show that will reign as one of the best musicals of the last twenty years and shows no sign of slowing down.

There has been some retooling for this tour.  The set and the ensemble are scaled down from prior incarnations though this is hardly noticeable but for the huge expanse of the Auditorium Theatre.  Scaling down aside, this is one of the funniest and tightest casts to ever perform the show.  As Donna’s best friends, Kittra Wynn Coomer (Rosie) and Michelle Elizabeth Dawson (Tanya) have perfect comic delivery and incredible on stage chemistry.   ‘Chiquitita’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ have never been danced or sung better and the friendship between the three ladies has never been more believable. 

Mamma Mia! runs through September 28, 2008 at the Auditorium Theatre.  For show times and tickets please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com or www.ticketmaster.com   or www.mamma-mia.com

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Mamma Mia! Tickets on Sale Now

MAMMA MIA! RETURNS TO CHICAGO

 

 CAST MEMBERS INCLUDE CHICAGOANS

SUSIE MCMONAGLE, MICHAEL AARON LINDNER AND NATHAN ALAN JOHNSON

 

Smash Hit Musical Returns to Chicago September 17 – 28, 2008

 

CHICAGO (July 21, 2008 ) Several Chicagoans, including Susie McMonagle (Donna Sheridan) and Michael Aaron Lindner (Harry Bright), and Nathan Alan Johnson (Ensemble) will perform in the national touring production set to hit Chicago’s stage this fall.  Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to present the national tour of MAMMA MIA! for a limited two-week engagement in Chicago September 17 – 28, 2008.  The tour continues playing to record breaking houses all across North America. 

 

Leading the cast of 30 is Susie McMonagle as Donna Sheridan, the independent single mother whose carefree past catches up with her on the eve of her daughter’s wedding.  Prior to MAMMA MIA! Susie could be seen on Broadway as Fantine in Les Misérable and in the National tours of The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music, Les Misérables and Pump Boys and Dinettes. Bride-to-be “Sophie Sheridan” is played by Rose Sezniak, who is a recent graduate of Catholic University in Washington DC.  Her fiancé “Sky” is played by Geoffrey Hemingway.

 

Kittra Wynn Coomer and Michelle Dawson play Donna’s best friends and former back-up band, Rosie and Tanya, (respectively) who reunite with their best friend on the island for Sophie’s wedding.  The three men from Donna’s past and Sophie’s possible dads are John Hemphill (Sam Carmichael), Martin Kildare (Bill Austin), and Michael Aaron Lindner (Harry Bright).  Sophie’s & Sky’s best friends are played by Rebecca Covington (Ali), Nicole Laurenzi (Lisa), Adam Kaokept (Pepper), and Anthony CeFala (Eddie).

 

MAMMA MIA!’s ensemble features Corey Bradley, Annie Edgerton, Natalie Gallo, Chicagoan Nathan Alan Johnson, Whitney Claire Kaufman, Ian Knauer, Stephanie Lynge, Monette McKay, Ayme Olivo, David Reiser, Damien DeShaun Smith, Robert Townsend, Rachel Tyler, and Bradley Whitfield.

 

Seen by over 30 million people around the world, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! is celebrating 6 sold-out years at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, and is currently playing record-breaking engagements in Las Vegas and on National Tour in the United States.  The original West End production has played more than 3,500 performances, an international tour has played in more than 30 foreign cities, and the feature film of MAMMA MIA!, produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, has recently been released.

 

With more productions playing simultaneously around the world than any other new musical, MAMMA MIA! is now THE WORLD’S # 1 SHOW.   There are currently 11 productions of MAMMA MIA! running concurrently around the world (9 permanent productions and 2 tours). With a worldwide gross of over $2 billion dollars and audiences of more than 30 million people, MAMMA MIA! is acclaimed by the Associated Press as “quite simply, a phenomenon.”

 

The original cast recording of MAMMA MIA! is available on Decca Broadway.

 

MAMMA MIA! will perform at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 E Congress Pkwy) September 17 – 28, 2008.  The performance schedule is as follows:

 

Wednesday, Sept 17 at 7:30 p.m.                                 Wednesday, Sept 24 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept 18 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.                           Thursday, Sept 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept 19 at 8 p.m.                                              Friday, Sept 26 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, Sept 20 at 2 and 8 p.m.                                 Saturday, Sept 27 at 2 and 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept 21 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.                              Sunday, Sept 28 at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept 23 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Tickets for MAMMA MIA! are $30 – $85 and are currently available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., and 18 W. Monroe St.), through the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (312) 902-1400, at all Ticketmaster Retail Locations (including all Hot Tix, select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores) or online at ticketmaster.com. 

 

Groups of 20 or more may receive a discount by calling (312) 977-1710.

 

For information about MAMMA MIA! visit www.mamma-mia.com or www.BroadwayInChicago.com 

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