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Mamma Mia!, Thomas Edison High School, Alexandria, Virginia, December 1, 2018

Caroline Keir

Bishop Ireton High School


A wonderful intersection between a daughter's self-discovery and a mother's self-reflection, Thomas Edison High School's production of Mamma Mia explores the complexity and complications of family through the wildy catchy and entertaining songs of the iconic 70s supergroup ABBA. The fun and spirited attitude exhibited throughout the entire performance was easily transferred to the audience, allowing for a colorful and carefree escape from reality.


The musical, book written by Catherine Johnson and music composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (former members of ABBA), opened in London's West End district in 1999 and went on to have an exceptionally long run on Broadway, capping in at over 5,000 shows. The story follows soon-to-be-bride Sophie, who despite her idyllic Greek island upbringing spent running a charming hotel with her hard-working single mother Donna, feels that something in her life is missing: her father. Deciding to finally take action, she reads her mother's old diary and discovers three of Donna's past relationships, concluding that one of them must have been with her biological father. Believing that upon meeting the men, she will immediately to be able to discern her father's identity, she sends them all invitations to the wedding, signing each message with her mother's name.


Both Sophie (Joanna Madamba) and Donna (Angeline Ignacio) delivered outstanding performances, their vocal abilities and heartfelt mother-daughter connection certainly being the highlight of the production. Madamba's performance peaked during the number Under Attack, where despite the intentionally hectic choreography, her voice never faltered. While all of her numbers were performed with exceptional precision and skill, Under Attack best displayed the extent of her endurance as a performer. Ignacio delved deep below the surface of her character, her initial annoyance and frustration with her three former lovers eventually being revealed as a defense mechanism for the heartbreak suffered during her youth. While she excelled during the flashier numbers such as Money, Money, Money and Super Trouper, the true extent of her range and emotional investment were revealed in the touching ballads One of Us and Winner Takes it All. The duet between the characters, titled Slipping Through My Fingers, beautifully showcased both of their vocal expertise and provided the most insight into the unconditional love shared in that relationship.


Another stand out performer was Nathaniel McCay who played Harry Bright, one of Sophie's possible fathers. McCay really stood out within the entertaining dynamic of the "Dad" ensemble due to his skilled contrast between the wild energy still present from his youth and the nervousness of a man whose only wish is to adequately fulfill his duty as a father to Sophie. The number Our Last Summer between Harry and Donna was the among the best musical interactions between two characters in the show, their outstanding vocals and great chemistry setting a bittersweet, nostalgic feel throughout the room.


The technical elements (lead by Charlotte Malone) and costuming of the production (Lanae Sterrett) were best represented during the final sing-along part of the show. The background began to change between different bright colors and beach balls were thrown throughout the audience as the Dynamos and the Dad Ensemble performed some of the hit numbers from the show dressed in wacky outfits that reflected the fashion trends of the 70's.


Thomas Edison's production of Mamma Mia was definitely an absorbing experience, the cast working well together to create a simultaneously upbeat, fast-paced, and heartwarming performance.


Grace Unes

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School


 From fun and exuberant costumes, to the energetic, classic, and danceable songs of ABBA, Thomas A. Edison High Schools production of "Mamma Mia" had everyone dancing in their seats and feeling like true dancing queens.


The musical, written by Catherine Johnson with songs from the band ABBA and a score composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, premiered in London's West End in 1999. It then premiered in the U.S. in San Francisco and eventually moved to Broadway. In 2008 a film adaptation was made starring Meryl Streep and Colin Firth.


The play follows Sophie (Joanna Madamba), the 20 year old daughter of Donna (Angeline Ignacio) who is the owner of a hotel on a small island in Greece. As Sophie plans to get married, she decides to invite three of Donna's old loves to the wedding, Bill (Alex Savage), Harry (Nathaniel McCay), and Sam (Mason Clark), in the hopes of discovering which one of them is her father. Donna's two best friends, Rosie (Ellie Hubbard) and Tanya (Maggie Landis), come to share with her in the celebration as well. We watch as chaos ensues once Donna comes face to face were her former flames, all while Sophie secretly tries to figure out which one of them is her father. The audience can't resist being immersed in the songs as love, passion, and family are balanced in this fun, jukebox musical.


What stood out most in this spirited adaptation of Abba's greatest hits was the energy the whole cast sustained throughout the entire show. During songs like "Dancing Queen" and "Mamma Mia," the cast was certainly having the time of their life! The choreography during each of these numbers enhanced the emotional impact of the songs and added to the show's palpable energy. During "Under Attack," the choreography was particularly impressive and the actors executed it with exceptional vibrancy.


The deep and significant emotion that was shown in scenes featuring Donna (Angeline Ignacio) and Sophie (Joanna Madamba) was particularly impressive. Angeline Ignacio's soulful voice captured the passion and depth of Donna and was extremely moving in songs like "Slipping Through My Fingers" and "Winner Takes it All." Joanna Madamba (Sophie) beautifully imbued the innocence of Sophie with her bright and angelic voice that shined in songs like "Thank You For the Music" and "I Have a Dream." When these actresses had scenes together the audience truly felt the mother and daughter bond that they shared.


Other impressive performances came from Maggie Landis (Tanya), who eloquently captured Tanya's fun and regal personality. All three of Donna's love interests played by Mason Clark (Sam), Nathaniel McCay (Harry), and Alex Savage (Bill Austin) were hilarious and endearing. 


Thomas Edison's "Mamma Mia" left everyone truly embrace their inner "dancing queens"!



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