Escondido, CA

Moonlight’s “Mamma Mia” is a joyful celebration of dance, song and friendship

“Mamma Mia!” is one of those sentimental favorites that is always welcome whenever it returns to the stage. Everyone loves the original ABBA songs the musical was built around, which include “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “The Winner Takes It All.”
The show combines all that great music with some very fine dance numbers. It was one of the longest running musicals on Broadway and still packs them in. The Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista is the perfect venue for this kind of show, offering standard seating and lawn seating where you can picnic before the show.
The cast is excellent, headed by the always-dependable local talent Bets Malone as Donna Sheridan, a single mother who has been raising her daughter Sophie, (played by Katie Sapper) on a Greek island where she operates a hotel.
Sophie is getting married, something that her mother is ambivalent about. Sophie has never known her father, or even known who he is, but after getting her hands on her mother’s diary, she figures that dad must be one of three guys that Donna spent passionate flings with. She invites all three men to the island who last visited that spot more than 20 years ago, hoping that she will know her father on sight—so she can have him escort her down the aisle and give her away to her fiancé, Sky, played by Nicholas Sloan.
The three guys include an architect, Sam Carmichael, played by Robert J. Townsend, Lance Arthur Smith as Bill Austin, and Jason W. Webb as Harry Bright. Townsend is a talented singer, especially effective in the number “The Winner Takes it All.”
Because Sophie invited the three men without telling her mother, complications ensure as soon as Donna lays eyes on them. It’s obvious that she has complicated feelings, and fury is only the most obvious.
Meanwhile, Donna has invited two old best friends who she used to sing with in the group Donna and the Dynamos. They include her cougar-esque friend Tanya, (Barbara Schoenhofer) who seems to have an ex-husband in virtually every port, and the more down to earth Rosie, played by Karyn Overstreet. Both are standouts, and both have their special moments to shine, but Overstreet crushes it in her number “Take a Chance on Me” when she throws caution to the winds and goes after one of the three possible dads.
I highly recommend “Mamma Mia!” It’s fun, upbeat, and will leave you with a nice warming feeling at the end of the evening.
Moonlight Stage Productions has added an additional performance of “Mamma Mia!” to meet ticket demand for Tuesday, June 26 at 8 p.m. This is the second performance that has been added to the schedule. Tickets for the June 26 and all other performances of “Mamma Mia!” are on sale now in person at VisTix (200 Civic Center Dr., Vista), by phone at 760-724-2110, and online at “Mamma Mia!” opened Moonlight’s 38th season on June 13 and will be on stage through June 30.
For more information, call 760-724-2110 or visit

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