Immersive style propels ‘Mamma Mia!’ to higher vistas

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Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

Take the plunge into the party of the year as Padgett Productions presents a uniquely-staged “Mamma Mia!” with a vibrant cast of performers guaranteed to knock-your-socks-off and get the audience clapping and dancing along.

Katie Gilchrist leads a stunning cast of characters in the Broadway blockbuster making it’s Kansas City small venue debut in Prohibition Hall at 11th and Megee. The 90-seat venue nearly sold out for Thursday night’s performance. With that big crowd in a small space, the energy and excitement gyrated off the stage and swept throughout the performance area as the cast utilized every aisle for entrances, exits, and foot space when characters just flooded throughout the audience.

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

Time-travel to a simpler time when ABBA topped the charts with their string of hits and flashy clothes (so retro — so 70ish) dominated the scene. America was celebrating the movie majesty of “Saturday Night Fever” with dance classes were popping up everywhere to learn the disco dances from the movie. Enter ABBA. The sound of the European group added a new sound. Their music skyrocketed to top of the charts. Well, that music creates a firm foundation for “Mamma Mia!” as a story line was crafted to include their music in the carefree atmosphere of a Greek Isle.

“Mamma Mia!” relies of four dynamic, explosive talents to pull off the party. First, there must be a strong trio for Donna and the Dynamos. In this case bank of Katie Gilchrist, Cori Anne Weber, and Tori Citro. Even though Weber and Citro are the “backup” singers, either could have stepped into the lead category with their powerful voices and performance delivery. To that, add the character of Sophie (Donna’s daughter on days prior to her wedding), played and sung by Jamie Turner. The four ladies deliver the ABBA score with force, flash, and flair. (What would “Mamma Mia!” be without flash and flair?) Party on!

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

Equally important are three possible fathers of the bride. For this director Nick Padgett nailed down impressive singer/actors from the area to drive the story and confuse poor Sophie as she tried to discover her dad. Sophie’s goal: A real father to give her away at her wedding. Beautifully voiced, Bradley J. Thomas, Tom Nelson, and Jonathan Rizzo play the three father-figures. The love interest comes from Delano Mendoza who matches the others with his strong voice and performance. The quartet of male actors could not be better suited for the female counterparts.

“Mamma Mia!” played nearly 5,800 performances on Broadway and created two national tours making it one of Broadway’s all-time great shows. Now, onstage at Prohibition Hall, the musical takes on a new intimacy in this small venue with actors streaming in and out of the stage through every opening they find. The effect brings the audience inside the musical and makes them feel a part of the show. The connection between the audience and actors spurs excitement and energy.

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

Gilchrist excels as Donna, giving one of he strongest portrayals in the last few years. She dominates the stage when she enters. Her stage presence is strong and could hold a venue as large as Starlight in her hand with this characterization. Matching her on stage presence, Cori Anne Weber and Tori Citro take no back seat. They deliver their songs with heart, gusto, and humor. Watching them strike their Charlie’s Angels pose just makes perfect sense. Jamie Turner gets more of the softer and more tender ABBA songs as she is the romantic lead and not the powerhouse lead. She delivers her part with sincerity needed for the more serious part.

“Mamma Mia!” explodes with energy and emotion. Gilchrist’s “Winner Takes It All” brings an eruption of hurt and feelings that resonates throughout the audience. Some other songs included are: “Honey, Honey,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Mamma Mia.” “Dancing Queen,” “The Name of the Game,” “Does Your Mother Know,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,” and even more.

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

Tickets will go fast as word of mouth spreads. Do not delay booking tickets. This is one of the best parties in Kansas City. Do not miss it. You and the whole family will love it. Very kid-friendly and appropriate for all ages.

The cast is: Jamie Turner as Sophie Sheridan, Katie Gilchrist as Donna Sheridan, Tom Nelson as Sam Carmichael, Jonathan Rizzo as Bill Austin, Bradley J. Thomas as Harry Bright, Delano Mendoza as Sky, Cori Anne Weber as Tanya, Tori Citro as Rosie, Emily Bricker as Lisa, Lacy Goettling as Lisa (5/13-5/19), Kameryn Behrend as Ali, Brandon Davis as Pepper, Travis Holt as Eddie, Alec Bridges as Ensemble member, Morgan Butler as Ensemble member. Jefferson Hanwood as Ensemble member. Christoph Nivens as Ensemble member, Maria Savoy as Ensemble member, Natalie Rothfusz as Ensemble member, Kristen May Altoro as Vocal ensemble member, Dennis Crowl, Vocal ensemble member, Morgan Dayley, Vocal ensemble member, Justin Moss Vocal ensemble member.

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

The Production/Creative team is: Producer- Nick Padgett/Padgett Productions, Directors – Katie Gilchrist and Nick Padgett, Choreographers – Morgan Butler and Nick Padgett, Music Director – Tim Braselton, Stage Manager – Sonia Jacobson, Production Design – Nick Padgett, Costume Design – Francie Kapono-Kuzila, Lighting Design – Edward Hayo, Sound Design – Tyler Thompson, Set Construction – R.J. Parish, Set Painting – Angie Scanlan and R.J. Parish, House Manager – Jacki Butler, Front of House- Angie Scanlan, Dressers – Adeana Carr and Deziree Halla, Spotlight Operator – Jeffrey Bostwick, Company Manager for Padgett Productions – Jill Smith.

Chuck Mason Photography/Padgett Productions

The “Mamma Mia!” band is: Keyboard 1/Music Director – Tim Braselton, Keyboard 2 – Lila Church, Drums/Percussion – Nick Panda, Guitar – Ben Byard, Bass – Mark Johnson.

“Mamma Mia!” runs through May 19 at Prohibition Hall, a few blocks north of the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Street parking is limited, but free evenings and weekends. Paid parking is available in a lot east of the venue. Tickets may be purchased through Padget Productions website specifically  “Mamma Mia!”

Tags: “Mamma Mia!” review, Padgett Productions, Prohibition Hall, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

Padgett Productions

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