For the first time ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) of Connecticut in Ridgefield has launched its inaugural musical — Mamma Mia! A full equity theater, this cast is truly as professional as they come. Directed by the theater’s artistic director Daniel C. Levine, it’s not surprising that this show is flawless. After all, Levine appeared on Broadway as well as in the Broadway National Tour of this show. He knows this musical inside out and it shows.
Evan Zavada is not seen, but as music director of a live orchestra, he and fellow musicians are heard and they all sound sublime. Juliet Lambert Pratt as Donna is the star of the show as she sings one solo after another making them sound as if they are all fresh and new. Emily Rogers as Donna’s daughter Sophie has a playful aura about her. About to be married, she’s energetic, sweet, and a dynamo. Jodi Stevens and Sheri Sanders are strong supporting actors as Donna’s best friends Tanya and Rosie respectively.
Meanwhile, the supporting principal roles for men feature Michael Hunsaker as Sam, Donna’s true love who is a strong baritone who belts out such fine numbers that one longs to hear him sing more. Victor Hernandez plays Harry, an English man with the proper accent who is also a former Donna lover as is Craig Ramsay, who adds a nice touch of humor to his role as Bill. Of these three men, one is most likely to be Sophie’s father. Paul Schwensen plays Sophie’s future husband and acts like a young man about to be married.
This show features a large cast with many of the ensemble featured in other roles. Alec Varcas as the flirtatious Pepper lives up to his character’s spicy name as he dances up a storm and throws in some incredible acrobatics for extra flair.
Also in the cast are: Andre Jordan, Erin Riley, Wesley Carpenter, James Oblak, Taurean Barber, Zachary Bigelow, Olivia Rose Cece, Dean Cestari, Katie LaMark, Sabrina Olivieri, Jessica Schwartz and Brittany Shinay.
Jason Wise’s choreography is beautifully realized by the talented cast and E.L. Hohn’s costumes are character specific. Jack Mehler does not mention that he has a bit of magic up his sleeves as his set and lighting designs are quite ingenious. There’s a simplicity about this Greek looking set that belies the effective functionality of the set. A revolving stage allows the exterior of a home to become an interior and an ocean blue backdrop with waves splashed across it serves as a perfect setting for this island wonder.
This brand new theater is a testament to modern technology. It has lots of glass around the lobby, and ultra modern black and steel high tables and stools. The seating for about 175 people not only features comfortable seats, but drink holders are attached to them. The show has already been extended to July 1. Most of the shows are sold out. Get yourself on a waiting list and hope for the best. This is an outstanding inaugural production of a first rate professional theater. Box office: 475-215-5433.
Joanne Greco Rochman is a founding member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]