Fans of ABBA came out in force to the Clay Center Friday night for the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of “Mamma Mia!”
As the lights dimmed at the beginning of the show, one spotlight remained lit, showcasing the band as they performed an upbeat medley of the most recognizable “Mamma Mia!” songs.
Then, the curtain rose, and we were introduced to Sophia (the daughter character), played by Sarah Hayes Navy. She opened the show with “I Have A Dream,” and Navy did not disappoint, with her innocent and childlike composure and breathy, high notes.
Rudi Arrowood, who played Tanya (the sassy, provocative friend of the mother character, Donna) seemed to channel the spirit and style of Kristin Chenoweth (Tony and Emmy-award winning Broadway actress and singer known for her role as Glinda in “Wicked”).
Arrowood dazzled, especially during the song, “Does Your Mother Know?”
She followed complicated and fast-paced choreography while wearing stilettos — and never missing a step.
The set was colorful and creative. The use of lighting really gave the feeling of set changes without an additional effort on their part.
The true star of this performance, however, was Emily Capece as Donna.
Most people are going to know the film version of the musical, but instead of following Meryl Streep’s take on the character in the 2008 film, Capece portrayed Donna as a more spunky, tongue-in-cheek character rather than a windswept hippie on an island.
It made the show jauntier and more fun than the movie — what I would call an improvement.
The men were a lot of fun to watch, too.
The audience erupted into laughter during the scene before the bachelor party for Sophie’s love-interest Sky (played by Trey Harris). Roaring onto the stage, the men performed some sort of can-can dance. It was the perfect accompaniment to “Lay All Your Love on Me.”
Making his debut with the guild, Michael Jarrouj, the owner of the Olive Tree in South Charleston appeared as Father Alexandrios, a Greek Orthodox priest who officiates a wedding. (Fun fact: Not only does Jarrouj play an Orthodox priest, but in real life he’s a sub-deacon at St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston.)
The most impactful scene of the musical was Capece performing “One Of Us.” Through her powerful voice, she picked up the audience and carried us to a place of high emotion. She brought the house down.
“Mamma Mia!” was another fantastic performance at the Clay Center. Performances are scheduled for Sunday and Jan. 27 at 2 p.m., and on Jan. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m.