‘Mamma Mia!’—This Musical Winner Takes It All

“Mamma Mia!” stars Jennifer Swiderski (as Rosie), Michelle Dawson (as Donna Sheridan) and Elise Kinnon (as Tanya) Credits: John Vecchiolla

Broadway fans who go to see “Mamma Mia!” at Westchester Broadway Theatre might not believe their eyes at what appears to be “Hamilton” hot shot Lin-Manuel Miranda performing on stage in the Abba musical.

It’s not him but the resemblance is uncanny. The Miranda look-alike who portrays dashing Sam Carmichael in this crowd-pleasing production is Xander Chauncey. When I met the talented actor at the opening night reception, I gushed that “you know that you look, sound and even move like Lin-Manuel Miranda,” to which the blushing actor replied, “From your mouth to…”

Mr. Chauncey is in good company not only because he conjures in the mind’s eye a singular talent in Mr. Miranda, who arguably is the entertainment world’s hottest commodity. Another reason Xander is in good company has to do with the rest of the large cast of this feel-good, hit parade musical—the eighth longest running in Broadway annals: They all are a joy to watch and hear. They make good company for a couple of hours.

Sign Up for E-News

The entire production—from singing, choreography and costumes to comic moments and full-cast production numbers—is very smoothly staged. It is one of the best in recent memory at the Elmsford dinner theater. “Mamma Mia!” entices you instantly, right from the opening notes, then puts a big smile on your face with the party-hearty grand finale, which lifts giddy audience members to their dancing feet.

Less than a minute after the show began, as central character Sophie Sheridan (played by Mariah MacFarlane) poignantly sings “I Have a Dream” to swooning music, the gentleman sitting next to me—himself a veteran stage performer—said, “This is great. I love this already.”

We meet Sophie and crew on the day before her wedding (Act I), then go along for the fun ride through wedding day (Act II). Sophie is the daughter of Donna Sheridan (Michelle Dawson), former lead singer of a ‘70s girl group who now runs a tourist villa on a tiny Greek Island.

The clever storyline and fast-paced dialogue seamlessly stitch together more than 20 songs by the Swedish phenomenon. Unbeknownst to her mother, Sophie has invited three of Donna’s past paramours to the wedding, in hopes of discovering which one of the men is her father.

Among the flashy, toe-tapping numbers, written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, are the title song, “S.O.S.,” “The Name of the Game,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and, of course, “Dancing Queen.” Except for The Beatles, no one has sold more records than Abba.

Both Ms. Dawson and Ms. MacFarlane command the stage with confidence and charisma, not to mention strong and versatile vocal chops that are exciting to experience.

Adding to the shenanigans with sustained brio are Donna’s lifelong friends and backup singers: Elise Kinnon as statuesque socialite Tanya and Jennifer Swiderski as pragmatic feminist Rosie. With Ms. Dawson, they project genuine camaraderie and mutual empathy without missing a musical beat. Theirs are three finely tuned, seasoned performances that go a long way toward investing the show with the spice of life.

In addition to architect Sam Carmichael, the candidates for Sophie’s dad are Australian adventurer Bill Austin (Brent Bateman) and British financier Harry Bright (Kilty Reidy). Each actor deftly milks a bunch of laughs from their colorful characters.

Filling out the cast in supporting and ensemble roles are young male and female triple-threat actors (sing, dance, act) who bounce, sashay and flip around the stage with energy and lithe limbs to spare. It’s impossible not to have fun watching them have non-stop fun. There’s even some wholesome beefcake on parade in a couple of scenes where Sophie’s fiancé Sky (Nathan Cockroft) and friends show off their shirtless torsos in bathing suits on the beach.

The streamlined, gleaming alabaster set—as befits a Mediterranean retreat—never changes, and remains perfectly serviceable throughout. It conveys a sunny optimism for a bright future ahead. You may not leave “Mamma Mia!” humming the scenery, but I virtually guarantee that you will leave humming one or more of Abba’s infectious, happy-go-lucky songs.

Directed and choreographed by Mark Martino, with musical direction by Eric Alford, “Mamma Mia!” marks a milestone as Westchester Broadway Theatre’s 200th mainstage production. It can be seen through June 25.

For the second half of 2017, the theater will present ever-popular “Annie” as its summer fare, followed this fall by “Annie Get Your Gun.”

For ticket information and reservations, call 914-592-2222 or visit BroadwayTheatre.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


The Hatch Act and Immigration Updates

This is for information purposes only. So, when you see headlines like the recent “Kellyanne Conway cited for two violations of the Hatch Act,” you will have a working knowledge of what it means. First off, what is the Hatch Act? This has nothing to do with Orrin Hatch, senator from Utah. Simply put, it states one cannot advocate for or against candidates while serving in an official ...

There Is Always More to the Story

If you are getting your information from CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times or others in the mainstream media, you would think the Russians are no good dirty scoundrels, colluding with Trump to steal the election from the rightful heir, Hillary Clinton.

The leading Democrats in New York are all on board with this scenario, as are Democrats representing states across the country. You have heard ...

The ‘Feminist’ President ... Ha!

Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1987 that Congress finally acknowledged the part women have played in the great movements of American history, declaring March to be National Women’s History Month.

And each year since, as March rolls around, U.S. presidents have stood at the lectern, extolling the virtues of American women. In President Trump’s statement, released last week, he ...

To Harrison, L'Chaim!

At long last, the smile of spring approaches, as an angry winter recedes into good riddance. Our spirit is ready to be re-charged. Damn the power outages, full speed ahead!

For my wife, Elyse, daughter, Elissa, and me, this otherwise exuberant time of year brings a confusion of mixed emotions. In 2003, on the opening day of spring, March 20, which happens to be my birthday, our 15-year-old son ...

Anytown USA's Reality TV Show

Nowhere is the raw power of our Constitution’s First Amendment more earnestly practiced than in thousands of town halls across the land every time a citizen steps up to the podium to say his piece.

That also is where reality television can be seen at its rawest, as town meetings are televised to the local populace. All the familiar production values of reality TV are there in full color: ...

When It's Not OK to Ask If Everything's OK

There is this thing that I do that annoys the heck out of my family. Well, to be honest, there are a lot of things I do that annoy the heck out of my family, but I am thinking of one thing in particular.

Whenever someone is in the bathroom for what I determine to be an abnormally long period of time, I stand outside the bathroom door and yell,


I ...

I'm All Pumped Up

This time last year, I struggled with my New Year’s resolution to go to the gym.

This year, I have made significant progress. I am going to the gym on a semi-regular basis. And by semi-regular, I mean, I go often enough that I actually remember where it’s located between visits.

The bad news, however, is that my workouts are just, how would you say it? Lame. Yes, they’re ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 2:00 PM

South Putnam Animal Hospital, Mahopac

PCDOH Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic

Health & Wellness

Sat, March 24, 2:00 PM

South Putnam Animal Hospital, Mahopac

PCDOH Free Rabies Vaccination Clinic

Health & Wellness

Sun, March 25

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, Yorktown Heights

Holy Week at First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown

Religions And Spirituality

Safety Is Schools' Top Priority

March 14, 2018

To the editor,

[Editor’s note: The following letter was sent by School Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo to Mahopac families and the school community.]

We are all saddened by the tragic events that took place in Parkland, Fla., several weeks ago, Mahopac’s collective thoughts and prayers for healing and strength are directed toward the families and students of Parkland.

I want ...