Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Mamma Mia!

Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Rob Spiegel

Image courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest
Every year in December, Musical Theatre Southwest (MTS) puts on a family friendly shebang. The company moves from the black box space to the African American Performing Arts Center to elevate the production. In the past few years, we've seen Shrek, Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Mamma Mia! isn't quite as family-ish as the others, but it's close with its pretty melodies. We get a romantic comedy romp to the music of ABBA, all centered around the song, "Mamma Mia!."

The musical, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bj√∂rn Ulvaeus, and book by Catherine Johnson, has been a huge success since it debuted in London in 1999, claiming a total viewership of 60 million—and counting. The show is still running in London and just closed on Broadway in 2015 after a 14-year run. The 2008 movie version was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Mamma Mia!! Here We Go Again due out this summer.

The story centers around Sophie (Virginia Asbury), who is about to marry Sky (Kevin Krupiak). She lives with her single mother on an Greek Island. Sophia doesn't know who is dad is, but she wants to get walked down the aisle. She finds her mom's diary and discovers that her father may have been one of three different men her mom slept with nine months before she was born. So, unbeknownst to her mom, Donna (Jillian Foster), she invites all three to the wedding.

Throw in a mix of bridesmaids, groomsmen, wedding workers, and assorted islanders, and you have a colorful mix. Directing pro, William R. Stafford, does a wonderful job keeping all the pieces moving like well-lubricated machinery. The show opens at a good pace and just keeps revving throughout. Stafford gets excellent help from choreographers Jackie Oliver and Thomas Porras. And just to make sure the production hits all the sweet spots, we get a small live orchestra to make sure the ABBA numbers get some punch.

The secret sauce in the production is Stafford's casting. He pulls in a bunch of MTS regulars who have come to work very well together over the years. For Sophia, he brings in Asbury who delivers leading roles with pure confidence and a solid musical theatre voice. Stafford pairs Asbury up with Krupiak, a relatively newcomer who delivered a stunning performance in Evita as Che. He turns in a terrific job yet again. His dad, Tom Krupiak, also turns in a solid performance as Bill, one of Sophie's possible dads.

The entire cast draws together to give us an overall strong performance, but one of the surprising highlights comes from Jillian Foster, who plays Sophie's mom. While her character moves to center stage slowly—all the early action surrounds bride-to-be and dad-schemer Sophie. I didn't expect quite the powerhouse we get with Foster, but she absolutely commands the stage during the act two, giving the second half of the show a strong kick.

Aside from some opening-night technical sound glitches (I'm sure they soon increased the volume of the vocals, which were a tad quiet against the instrumentation), this is a terrific show from quiet the opening to the brassy in-the-audience extended bows. Nice show.

Mamma Mia! , directed by William R. Stafford for Musical Theatre Southwest, will show in the African American Performing Arts Center at 310 San Pedro NE through December 31. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. General admission is $22. For seniors, students and ATG members, admission is $20. For reservations, call 505-265-9119 or purchase online at