Broadway Across America-Indianapolis; Murat Theatre; Nov. 6-11
Third time is still a charm for this ABBA-inspired appearance at the Murat. As did the prior companies, this energized, focused and thoroughly lovable cast makes each character distinctive. ABBA’s songs are small miracles of melody encasing mini-dramas or as simple longings, statements of fact or candid observations. Catherine Johnson’s book develops characters within the arc of ABBA’s songs, from innocence and naiveté to cognizance and maturity — no matter the age range. It’s a fast-paced production with a lot of humor fueling realistic situations and relationships. It’s a mirror held to the past while at the same time being timeless. Donna Sheridan, played with zest by Mary Jayne Raleigh, after being disowned by her mother, raises her daughter Sophie as a single parent. Sophie, made real by Carrie Manolakos, nevertheless longs for a connection with her biological father. Of course, all the drama and comedy could be averted with a DNA test, but that’s not the stuff of London’s West End. By inviting three possible candidates to her wedding, Sophie sets the beguiling story into motion. It’s a romp with great timing, mugging and sight gags. The dancing is thoroughly energized, with more than a few clever tricks.