“Mamma Mia!” Farewell Tour Sings Its Way Into Seattle

Mamma Mia! Farewell Tour Seattle

“Mamma Mia!” returns to Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on March 28th through April 2nd, as part of its farewell tour.

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ lively-but-corny Abba frolic attracts devoted fans–one fan confessed to seeing it 55 times. This five time Tony nominated musical is an ABBA-lovers dream and has made quite a bit of “Money Money Money.”

Mamma Mia Love

(L to R) Dustin Harris Smith, Lizzie Markson
“MAMMA MIA!” Farewell Tour, Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016

Before the show opened on New York, Broadway, a prestigious producer was trying to decide whether to bring “Mamma Mia!” to Broadway. He was leaning towards “no.” But his wife told him it would be a huge mistake—the show would make a bundle. And she was right. Not only did the show run 14 years– longer than “Rent” or “Fiddler on the Roof”– it toured the world and grossed two billion dollars. And the film version starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan cleaned up as well.

The jukebox musical opened on Broadway in October 2001, just what the people needed after the 911 terror attacks. “Mamma Mia!” became a surprise hit, despite snobby New York critics and naysayers.

Audiences love Catherine Johnson’s storyline: A single mother (Donna), one daughter (Sophie) and three possible fathers (Sam, Bill, and Harry). So what’s a mother to do?

Well, Donna buys a small villa/taverna on one of the Greek Islands where she raises her daughter. Now Sophie is getting married, and curiosity leads her to sneak a peek at her mother’s old diary. Who is her father?!?! She discovers three possible candidates. Without telling mama, she invites all three to her wedding. She’s hoping she can figure out which one is her daddy, so he can walk her down the aisle.

Meanwhile, Donna’s two BFFs arrive for the wedding. And of course, the three of them used to have a musical act together. One is a wealthy divorcee (Tanya), who never saw a young man she didn’t adore. The other (Rosie) is wise-cracking author.

And of course, the situation becomes one big kerfuffle with lively dancing, bare-chested boys, and a slew of ABBA tunes, including “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” and the show’s title tune. 

Mamma Mia Boys

The Company of the “MAMMA MIA!” Farewell Tour. Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia, 2016.

The sun may not shine as brightly on the umpteenth touring production, of “Mamma Mia!” but its fans will turn out to see it, just one more time . . .  before it becomes de rigueur for community theaters and high schools.

And if you happen to be sitting near an ABBA lover, you will probably hear her/him softly singing along with the performers. By the Mega Mix finale, you may be joining in.

In his 2001 review, New York Times critic, Ben Brantley, called the show “a giant singing Hostess cupcake.” We’re all still wiping frosting off his face.

“Mamma Mia” runs March 28-April 2 at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets start at $25, available on-line at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or in person at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).

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About Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times “Style” section for her “Word Portraits,” specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that “Starla” is indeed her real name.

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