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AMANA - 'The Winner Takes it All” is the emotional apex of 'Mamma Mia!” But everyone's a winner, onstage and in the audience for this bouncy, vibrant musical running through Oct. 13 at the Old Creamery Theatre.
Jukebox musicals are notorious for feeling forced or contrived, as script writers try to thread a story through a string of popular songs. That's not the case with this show, built around the hits of ABBA, the Swedish pop group that stormed radios and discos in the '70s with such chart-toppers as 'Waterloo,” 'Dancing Queen,” 'Take a Chance on Me” and the show's title song.
You'll hear all of those, plus plenty more, during a young bride's quest to learn which one of her mother's three summer flings is her father.
Sophie (the sparkling Katie Colletta) has learned about her potential fathers by reading her mother's diary. Unbeknown to mamma Donna (the feisty Kristen Behrendt DeGrazia), Sophie invited all three men to her wedding. She's hoping to figure out which one is her father, in time for him to walk her down the aisle.
The fact that she's getting married at age 20 is a hard pill for her never-married mother to swallow. But when Donna's past shows up in her present, sparks fly.
The mamma already is a bundle of nerves, trying to get everything in order in the taverna/hotel she built from the ground up on a picturesque Greek island. Burdened by financial woes and employees more interested in partying with the guests, Donna's mood initially lightens when her two best friends from their Donna and the Dynamos girl-group days breeze onto her doorstep.
The show begins with an adorable generational giggle fest, with Sophie and her two besties giggling over Donna's diary, then Donna and her middle-aged besties giggling like teenagers when they're reunited.
Reality quickly sets in, however, and mother and daughter head off to their separate paths of anxiety. Even when Sophie's worried, Colletta sparkles, and especially when Donna's distraught, DeGrazia displays the kind of chops that landed her on Broadway for five years and in a national tour as Fantine in 'Les Miserables.” Watching her embody 'The Winner Takes it All” is like a watching a master class in singing through angst.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Nikki Savitt is a hoot as Dynamo Rosie, trying to reel in one of the potential dads on 'Take a Chance on Me.” She gets to play off Sean McCall's physical comedy licks, which left everyone in stitches during Wednesday's final dress rehearsal. Carrie SaLoutos as Dynamo Tanya, lives up to that billing, flirting with all the young men.
The three dads - Dion Stover as Harry, the British hard-rock guitarist turned banker, McCall as globe-trotting writer Bill and Kyle Yampiro as architect Sam - bring distinctly different flavors to Sophie's life.
The musical is a big undertaking for the nonprofit professional troupe, and everyone rises to the occasion onstage and behind the scenes. Director Keegan Christopher gets triple billing, as part of the ensemble and co-choreographer with his wife, Colletta. They make a dynamic duo, infusing the show with crisp, sharp, muscular dance that bridges ABBA's disco era with the play's 2000 setting.
Costume Designer Bethany Horning gets a special nod not only for the playful look of the young people bopping through the show, but for the dazzling Dynamos' jumpsuits, equally at home under a spotlight and in outer space.
Don't beat a hasty retreat during the bows - another layer of out-of-this-world fun flashes into an encore that will leave you clapping, grooving and singing along with the dancing queens and their court.
If You Go
' What: 'Mamma Mia!”
' Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
' When: To Oct. 13; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday
' Tickets: $32.50 adults; $20 students; $12 student rush 30 minutes before showtime; Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com
' Extra: Disco dance parties in the courtyard following Saturday performances
Comments: (319) 368-8508; firstname.lastname@example.org