Mamma Mia! tells the story of the relationship between Sophie Sheridan (Grace Yoo) and her mother Donna (Joan Almedilla) leading up to Sophie’s wedding. Not knowing who her father is, Sophie invites all three of her potential dads to her big day. Once they arrive on the island the Sheridans call home, chaos and comedy follow. Woven into this story are ABBA’s hit songs (“Mamma Mia,” “Super Trouper,” and “Dancing Queen” to name a few), which helped make the show a musical sensation.
East West Players’ version of the well-known musical puts an Asian twist on the story, complete with traditional red lanterns, hand fans, and even Hello Kitty. With direction from Snehal Desai, the company’s artistic director, and choreography from Preston Mui, East West Players’ Mamma Mia! holds just as strong a performance in its scenes as it does in the musical numbers that accompany them. With a pitch-perfect cast and a live band in tow, the show ignites full of energy as the characters dance and sing their souls out.
“Honey, Honey” brings the first wave of energy as Sophie and her two best friends, Ali (Nicole Santiago) and Lisa (Jules Aurora), introduce the audience to the world of Mamma Mia!. “Voulez-Vous” is a spectacle in itself as the entire 17-member cast emerges to perform an elaborate dance number. The show’s emotional highpoint, “Slipping Through My Fingers,” reveals the strength of Yoo and Almedilla’s performance through the compelling bond Sophie and Donna share.
But the show isn’t over after the second act. Following bows, the cast breaks into an impressive three-song encore and even goes into the crowd to bring audience members on stage to dance. Through to the very end, Los Angeles-based East West Players’ Mamma Mia! is a force to be reckoned with.