A dreamy good ‘Mamma Mia!’ on tour at the Hippodrome in Baltimore

The cult-classic musical was well done by an amazing cast and the performance was beyond enjoyable.

Is this real? The lights, the music, the voices, and the set were so unbelievably well done, I just knew I had to be dreaming it all. Brava to Director Phyllida Lloyd for a wonderfully directed cult-classic musical. I knew I was going to enjoy Mamma Mia! regardless, but this show at the Hippodrome Theatre went beyond all my expectations. I enjoyed it so much that I may return to see it again during its run here in Baltimore.

Mamma Mia! is based on the book of the same name by British playwright Catherine Johnson. There are several adaptations, but nothing compares to watching it live in a beautiful and plush theater. So much went into this performance to make it an experience worth having. The versatile and simple set was magic. Nancy Thun, the associate set designer, has mastered the art of less is so much more. You can appreciate all the details that went into making this an astounding production. The music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus bring a solid foundation to allow the true beauty of each character to come through.

Jalynn Steele (Tanya), Christine Sherrill (Donna Sheridan), and Carly Sakolove (Rosie) in ‘Mamma Mia!’ Photo by Joan Marcus.

Most of us are familiar with the big numbers in this musical — thank you, ABBA — like “Dancing Queen” and ”Mamma Mia!,” but the smaller numbers were just as good if not better. While I adored the glitzy, shiny costumes that Associate Costume Designer Lucy Gaiger put together — exactly what you expected to see for “Dancing Queen” — each number was special and done with profound care. My favorite duet, “The Winner Takes It All” — sung by Donna exquisitely portrayed by Christine Sherrill and a most talented actor, Victor Wallace, who dreamily played Sam Carmichael — was sheer joy. The emotion that reverberated through the room listening to their voices reach beyond the raptors brought me close to tears. Their chemistry was apparent throughout the show but in this duet, their voices became the epitome of sad, lost love fighting to gain a foothold in the present. The audience was utterly mesmerized by them to the point of a standing ovation.

Darling, precocious Sophie depicted by Alisa Melendez was a treat. Her great voice complemented everyone else in such numbers as “Thank You for the Music” and “I Have a Dream,” but her solos were spellbinding and glorious. She embodied the role of a 20-year-old bride. Her fiancé, Grant Reynolds who represented Sky, was a delight. He was charming, sweet, and the perfect picture of a groom. His voice, while not as indelible as others’, was still solid and enjoyable. His interactions with Sophie were a pleasure to watch.

The aunts were each a firecracker in their own way. Jalynn Steele who played Tanya and Rosie performed by Carly Sakolove were all around amazing and fun to watch. From the dramatic scene watching Tanya blow up the air mattress to watching Rosie chase her man around the chapel, they brought an easy comedic brightness to the show. And both completely took you by surprise with the strength of their voices when they sang. It was like watching a magic trick unfold.

Christine Sherrill (Donna Sheridan) and the Company of Mamma Mia!’ 25th Anniversary Tour. Photo by Joan Marcus.

And we cannot forget the equally delightful “Headbanger” Harry, who was channeled by Rob Marnell, and the adventurous Bill Austin played by Jim Newman. These gentlemen and their antics were brilliant. Their history of the olden days with Donna and their lives before they each moved on was beautiful nostalgia. They each brought to light what made them so special and a respite for a broken-hearted Donna. I loved the men they were and the truth they finally found for themselves. Never judging and always accepting. It’s how we should strive to be.

My only point of contention was the lighting. While it was more often lovely and alluring and laid the base for amazing moments, it was sometimes a bit dark. I understand that central characters need to be highlighted at certain moments and others need to be placed in the shadows, but there were times that everything just seemed to be in shadow, as if the lights in the front were missing. While Lighting Designer Howard Harrison did an astounding job overall, it was a minor distraction that happened at random.

Overall Mamma Mia! was well done by an amazing cast and the performance was beyond enjoyable. This show could easily slide into first place for a great way to spend your money this season. If you have a chance to see it, I say go. You won’t regret it!

Running Time: Two hours and 35 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Mamma Mia! plays through April 21, 2024, at the Hippodrome Theatre’s France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw Street, Baltimore, MD. Purchase tickets ($172.50–$279) online or call 410.837.7400.

Complete cast and creative credits for the touring company are here.

COVID Safety: Masks are recommended but not required. The Hippodrome’s Health & Safety policy is here.


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