MAMMA MIA! EXUBERANCE PERSONIFIED IN THE ADORABLE HEARTWARMING MUSICAL PLAYING AT ACTS THEATRE IN LAKE CHARLES, LA

 

SHORT TAKE:

Upbeat and joyous musical comedy cobbled from the wildly popular songs of ABBA, about a young woman who invites three men who might be her father to her wedding and the lighthearted ensuing fallout therefrom.

WHO SHOULD GO:

There is a bit of light innuendo played for comic buffoonery and a slight bit of mild language but it is the premise of the story that makes this really for mid-teens, with appropriate informed parental discretion, and up.

ALSO – there’s LOTS more pictures on their way which I’ll be adding and even changing over the next day or two – so check in again SOON!!

Also also – we incorporated as many pics as we could into the text of the blog but we couldn’t put them ALL so we have put DOZENS more at the end of the blog and MORE will be added in the next few days – so CHECK OUT PAST THE END OF THE BLOG FOR MANY MANY MORE PHOTOS!!!

LONG TAKE:

If you find yourself feeling down this weekend, boy have I got a cure for you. There is not a prescription in existence that will cheer you up the way Mamma Mia! will. And I challenge anyone to not find themselves helplessly and happily tapping along to the catchy, memorable and upbeat ABBA tunes.

Like the title of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” the name ABBA is not technically supposed to be mentioned, but as a member of the audience, in case you didn’t know, Mamma Mia! is based on the music of this “unnamed” band, a Swedish pop group which exploded onto the musical scene in the late 1970’s and whose music is now ubiquitous from movies to elevators all over the world. Inspired by the theatrical possibilities of The Winner Takes it All, that song stands as the center showpiece of the plot written by Catherine Johnson.

Opening this Friday, May 31 and playing through June 16 where TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE at Lake Charles’ ACTS Theatre, 7:30 pm June 1, 7, 8, 14 & 15 with Sunday Matinees at 3 pm on June 2, 9 and 16, Mamma Mia is almost an opera buffa. Directed by veteran thespian Walt Kiser, Mamma Mia! jumps like musical parkour, from song to song, avoiding dialogue almost completely. Why say something when you can SING IT! And a more joyous heartfelt set of songs you would be hard pressed to find anywhere.

Even the saddest of the songs will make you smile with their deliciously sappy romanticism. Mamma Mia! dances from Honey, Honey to I Have a Dream, Dancing Queen, SOS, Super Trooper and of course Mamma Mia, as the play lyrically tells its story.

Sophie, a young bride-to-be, has been raised by her single mom, Donna, on a Greek Island. Desperate to find out who her father is and wanting his presence at her wedding, 20 year old Sophie peruses her mother’s diary, and discovers that Donna had had one wild and crazy couple of weeks … about 20 years before. So, behind her mother’s back, Sophie sends a wedding invitation to the unknowing lucky pater familias    — all three of them – Sam, Bill and Harry.  The three unsuspecting men, clueless to their possible fatherhood, show up and the awkward situation escalates comically with every musical number.

The set is in authentic Athens blue highlights, the costumes brightly colorful, the singing strong, and the cast infectiously enthusiastic.

Paula McCain, who recently added her considerable acting talents to McNeese’s The Crucible, leads as Donna. Heather Foreman, fresh from ACTS’ Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, LCLT’s Bye Bye Birdie and McNeese University’s Songs for a New World, captivates the audience as Sophie, bringing beautiful youthful exuberance to The Name of the Game and Lay All Your Love on Me.

Casey Doucet, who also serves as musical director, plays Sam, Donna’s first “one who got away”, bringing the same commanding poignancy from ACTS’ Shrek to his half of Mamma Mia‘s star crossed lovers, Sam. Michael Ieyoub is Harry and Mark Hebert is Bill, who endearingly and humorously play the other two Dad candidates.

Krystal Smith as Tanya and Veronica Williams as Rosie take the stage as the singing/dancing best friends of Donna, belting out the likes of Super Trooper and Take a Chance on Me.

Sky, Sophie’s fiancé,  is played by Joshua Peterson. Louis Barrilleaux is Pepper the lecherous bartender, Kane Todd is Eddie, Donna’s assistant, Diki Jines is their Catholic priest, and Anita Fields-Gold is the local island’s watchful kindly dowager.

The amazingly talented dancing troupe of Gracie Myers, Joley Fontenot, Eli Prudhomme, Jay Prudhomme, and Hannah Daigle periodically steal scenes as they punctuate the emotions and songs with near acrobatic choreography.

Kelly Rowland and Lori Tarver are Sophie’s best buds and bridesmaids, Ali and Lisa, aiding with Honey, Honey and others. Rounding out the ensemble and lending their voices and dancing skills, are: Alaina Goins, Amber Zuniga, Kristine Alcantra,  Teresa Marceaux, Taylor Novak-Tyler, Ashley Dickerson,  Zach Benoit, and Dan Sadler.

Brahnsen Lopez is stage manager. Producers are Diane Flatt and Mark Hebert.  Lauren Fontenot is their choreographer and Kris Webster the costumer.

So come to ACTS Theatre, to sing and dance your blues away, with the troupe from Mamma Mia!

 

MORE ON A SUPPLEMENTARY POST FOR MAMMA MIA!

 

 

 

 

TULLY – AN UNUSUALLY HONEST AND FRANK LOOK AT MOTHERHOOD

SHORT TAKE:

Well done and insightful view of an ordinary family undergoing a crisis as an exhausted and post-partum depressive mom deals with three children, including one who is a special needs and another a newborn, by welcoming a "night nanny" into her life.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT:

Adults only. Language gets raw under stress and sexuality is openly discussed, including the mom's habit of watching a porno reality site called Gigolos.

LONG TAKE:

When our oldest son was only a few months old he gave up sleeping. I discovered that going without sleep for months can make you hallucinate. I started seeing things out of the corner of my eye I knew were not there. Fortunately, I had a very supportive husband who helped me get the household and his sleeping habits under control.

OBLIQUE SPOILER

Marlo (Charlize Theron) has a similar problem. On top of the responsibilities of a newborn and a first grader, she also cares for a special needs kindergarten aged son who everyone identifies merely as "quirky" so does not really get the help he needs, she holds down a full time job, and her husband's demanding job requires he goes out of town often. With a history of detail-mysterious severe post-partum depression, her concerned and wealthy brother, Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to hire a "night nanny" for them. Marlo's pride gets in the way at first, but eventually one arrives. Her name is Tully (MacKenzie Davis) and she is a twenty something free spirit who seems to understand Marlo to her core. The two women bond immediately and Tully does a good job of caring for their new baby, cleaning the disaster that had become their house and even makes cupcakes for Marlo's children's classmates – all the things that Marlo feels guilty for not having done.

One of the great thngs about Tully is the ordinariness of the house, the kitchen, the bedroom and the people. Theron gained 50 pounds for the role. She, personally, has two adopted children so has never been pregnant but you'd never know it. We have six children and breast fed them all. So I know what a post-partum body looks like and Ms. Theron, baring almost all, certainly LOOKS like she has a genuine maternal belly. And the scenes with the leaking, pumping, breastfeeding are very very familiar. I say this to note that while the script reaches into the reality of the struggles of parenthood, the film makers go to great lengths to present what looks like an authentic family dynamic.

Ms. Theron carries most of the water in Tully and is amazing. She is one of those truly talented actors who do not mind making herself look ugly for a role. While she can be convincing as the almost supernaturally athletic spy in Atomic Blonde and convincingly sexual magnet in Gringo, here she looks like any other mother who just gave birth, including flabby tunmmy and leaky boobs. In one very funny scene her kindergartener spills a glass of juice on the dinner table and all over her. In a state of apathetic exhustaion she simply strips off her shirt and sits almost catatonically at the table. Her grade school daughter takes one look at her and innocently asks: "Mom, what's wrong with your body?"

So, for all of the occasionally dark tinged situations, this is not a depressing movie. In many ways it is a comedy – though a subtle one. And be aware, there are some seemingly startling or even shocking things that happen during the movie. But stick with it – things are not always as shocking as they appear. Tully is, ultimately, a very family, marriage, child and life affirming movie wherein normal people deal with every day challenges in their own creative ways. The people in the family strive to stay close and keep it working and stable the best way they know how. Tully advocates for the value of a family, warts and all.  In Tully, the spouses – Marlo and Drew – care about each other and their children very much. The couple has each learned from the failures of their parents' broken marriages and Drew loves and is faithful to Marlo despite her occasionally fragile mental state. They are supportive and kind to each other and to the children, tryng their best to be good attentive parents. This is greatly refreshing and necessary in a culture which promotes popular media in which the father is often marginalized, and the marriage is often portrayed as broken or only one in a cascading list of failures.

If the movie has one great flaw it is in not showing more of the beautiful ecstacy that can be parenthood – the joy of holding a newborn, the miracle of which never grows old. The story examines Marlo's overburdened exhausted life but rarely any of the blissful moments of bonding with the mom, dad and the newborn. There is also, to its detriment, no reference to the core values of any kind of spiritual life, which would have gone a long way to ameliorating Marlo's pain and depression.

As all of us, coming from our own unique brand of family, knows – it is not always easy and it is not always obvious, but, more often that not, families are, as Carly Simon once famously sang – "the stuff that dreams are made of."