The theatre was nicely full, nearly three quarters, which is great for a Saturday matinee. I was excited because the Tillie is my old theatre. I know it like the back of my hand, even after these many years of being absent. They have probably $100,000 worth of robotic lights, high performance spots and a state of the art sound system.
It started with an announcement that the lighting designer had had a family emergency and was running late, so the show held for her... Why were we holding for a designer? That makes no sense at all. The show had opened on Thursday, so all the designers were through at that point. Not only the designer, but she was also the light board operator. Not a good sign. The sound board operator was the show's director and she promised us the best production of Mamma Mia we'd ever seen. Also, a bad sign.
The music was canned, probably from M T Pit. It's cheaper than having musicians, I get that as we had to do that for a couple of years, too. It's hard to find enough to fill the pit at this time of the year. I get that. What I didn't get was that the music was tinny and muffled, running through the secondary speakers as opposed to the main cluster.
The curtain opened to a two unit set that was lost of the stage. Instead of a struggling taverna, it was lovely and perfectly clean and well kept. There was a total lack of energy and commitment by the actresses, which is sad because Honey, Honey sets the tone. And, indeed, it did. Donna was whiny and, sigh, there's no other word, weak. This is supposedly a strong woman who handled motherhood and innkeeping all on her own. The casting was terrible, Sky was old enough to marry Donna and Sam was young enough to be her son.
And, sadly, it gets worse. The choreographer, when she didn't have them standing in a straight ling and wiggling their shoulders, was channeling Thriller. Not the right moves for this show. And the script was chopped to pieces and the actors were paraphrasing and adding new lines. I don't like "I have to go clean out my handbag" either, but it's in the script. You can't change it to "I have to go put my drill away." The enunciation of everyone was very good, though. I will give them that.
The first act ran 50 minutes and the second act ran 22... a 2 1/2 hour show cut down to 90 minutes with intermission. Don't get me wrong. I am glad it didn't go on longer. People came out praising the show. I hope they hadn't seen ours and found it lacking against this one. The only remedy was to come home and play ABBA very loudly.