Love was in the air Friday night as The Upstagers presented their second show of the season, the popular musical “Mamma Mia!”
Based on the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” tells the story of Sophie as she invites three complete strangers to her upcoming wedding in an attempt to learn which of them is her father. Of course, she carries her plan out without her mother, Donna, knowing and the sudden return of three former loves creates chaos for Donna as she attempts to balance the pressures of an upcoming wedding, running a business and reuniting with her nearest and dearest friends.
The play is moved along by the music of ABBA. Director Annie Marshall was tasked with choreographing 23 different numbers involving nearly 40 cast members spread out through two different groups – Cast A and Cast B.
Friday evening it was Cast A taking center stage. Sophie was played by Bella Cadena, flanked by Sophie’s best friends Ali, played by Emmalee Diaz, and Lisa, played by Alex Sanchez. Clarissa Martinez played Donna, and her best friends, Tanya and Rosie, were played by Joanle Patoni and JoLee McKaskle respectively.
Filling out the main male roles were the trio of Colin Montgomery, Rob Wade and William Marshall, who played Sam, Bill and Harry respectively.
Cadena and Martinez handle the bulk of the performing for Cast A, and the two play off each other well in their staged mother-daughter relationship. The excitement of Sophie learning who her father is tempered by Donna’s confrontation by her past. The drama leads to soul searching by both women and throws the planned wedding into question.
The other star of the show is the music of ABBA. From the outset, fans of the band, and their popular music, will be singing along to the familiar sounds of hits such as “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” and, of course, the title song “Mamma Mia!”
Cadena holds her own as Sophie. She takes the spotlight for much of the first act, belting out several familiar tunes, but it’s Martinez’s turn as Donna that showcases the young actresses’ talent and her ability to captivate through her voice. However, it’s their rendition of “The Winner Takes It All,” that is a true showstopper.
But it’s not all romance and drama. There’s plenty of laughs to go around, especially from the team of Patoni and McKaskle. Patoni’s Tanya becomes the target of affection from many of the younger male cast members while McKaskle’s Rosie goes from independent woman to smitten pursuer by the time the curtain draws close. Their adventures, and musical numbers, provide a great lift in the show.
Friday’s show featured Cast A. Cast B, which features a nearly completely different group of performers, will return to the stage this coming Friday evening at 8 p.m. after performing the matinee this past Saturday. Cast A returns for the matinee Saturday, which is at 2 p.m., before Cast B closes out the run Saturday evening at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $17 for adults, $12 for students. Tickets are available at the box office or at Paulino’s Service Center, 4220 U.S. Highway 90 West; Diamond’s Salon, 709 E. Gibbs St.; Polished Elegance, 1810 Veterans Blvd.; and Del Rio Feed and Supply, 111 E. Gibbs St. Tickets can also be purchased through paulpoagevents.com and at the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce office.