Thursday, September 6, 2018

Everyone has a good time at Center Rep's 'Mamma Mia!'

Leanne Borghesi (left), Lynda DiVito as Donna and Alison Quin as Tanya recall their disco days.
Some of the bounciest music ever written and a terrific cast add up to one very good time at Center Repertory Company’s production of “Mamma Mia!”

Featuring songs mostly by Benny Andersson and Bj√∂rn Ulvaeus made popular by the Swedish band ABBA in the ’70s, “Mamma Mia!” is set on a Greek island in 1999.

Sean Okuniewicz as Sky and Giana Gambardella as Sophie look forward to their wedding.
Sophie (Giana Gambardella) is to be married to Sky (Sean Okuniewicz) and wants her father to walk her down the aisle. 

There’s just one hitch: Three men might be her father. They are Harry (Mark Farrell), Bill (Keith Pinto) and Sam (Noel Anthony).  

Her single mother, Donna (Lynda DiVito), has had no contact with them since Sophie was conceived, and she doesn’t know who’s the father. Nor does she know beforehand that Sophie has invited them to Donna’s taverna.

Among the other wedding guests are Tanya (Alison Quin) and Rosie (Leanne Borghesi), who were part of a ’70s disco girl group with Donna. They have great fun reminiscing and reprising some of their songs, such as “Dancing Queen.”

As directed by Marc Jacobs, everything works out for the best at the end.

Before then, the audience is treated to more hits like “Honey, Honey,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” “One of Us,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me” and the title song.

All are sung well under the leadership of musical director Brandon Adams.

There’s some great dancing, too, thanks to choreography by Robyn Tribuzi.

Kurt Landisman’s lighting puts on its own show during the overture. Costumes by Maggi Yule are sometimes wildly imaginative, as in the nightmare scene that opens Act 2.

The flexible set is by Kelly James Tighe with sound by Jeff Mockus.

Even after the curtain call, some of the best-known songs are reprised, giving the audience a chance to join in and have as much fun as the 20-member cast seems to be having.

Running about two and a half hours with one intermission, “Mamma Mia!” will continue through Oct. 7 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek.

For tickets and information, call (925) 943-7469 or visit

Photos by Kevin Berne

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