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We are officially Mamma Mia! fans.

Mama Mia

Logan in front of the Broadway poster (2014)

and a few years before…

Logan at Mama Mia Nov 2007

Logan in front of Broadway Mama Mia! poster (2007)

We went to see Mama Mia! for the fifth time last night at National Theater in Washington DC. The show was  fabulous! My daughter leaned over after the third song and whispered It never gets old!”  We all agreed we liked it even better than the Mama Mia show we saw on Broadway in January 2014. In fairness, the Broadway show had just recently changed out almost all of their cast except for “Donna.” Unfortunately, the chemistry hadn’t developed yet among the new actors.

The musical is campy, funny, and you can’t help but start tapping your feet when the music begins. Mamma Mia! is based on ABBA songs. ABBA was an internationally popular Swedish pop group that started in 1972. They won Eurovision in 1974 with the song “Waterloo”   The play was written by British playwright Catherine Johnson and opened in London in 1999. It’s currently ranked as the 9th longest running Broadway show. 

Admittedly, I was not an ABBA fan before seeing the play in 2007 but there’s just something about the play that makes me smile and I can relate to most of the songs.  I’m glad John likes it too ~ makes it more fun for the whole family to enjoy.

We each have our favorite songs and mine is “Does Your Mother Know” It’s sassy and, last night, “Pepper”(P. Tucker Worley) and “Tanya” (Gabrielle Mirabella) did a great job with the song and dance. P. Tucker Worley did a back flip and some killer toe-touches.  Fun, fun, fun!

There is a sad part of the play that causes both myself and my daughter to shed a tear.  It’s the song “Slipping Through My Fingers” It goes right for the heart. Here’s a video of ABBA singing the original.

One of the best parts of the show is at the very end when everyone stands up to sing and dance along ~ it becomes a feel-good party.

I’m glad we went on the closing night or else we might have been tempted to go again before the show left town. If it comes to your town, be sure to go. You won’t regret it. Since some people consider us groupies at this point, we might have to travel down to Atlanta in September and see it there at the beautiful Fox Theater.

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The only West End Show John has begged repeatedly asked me to get tickets for is “Book of Mormon” which opened in February 2013. By the time I checked for tickets, the show was sold out through the summer with only a few very expensive seats available on third-party ticket sites. Last Tuesday, he decided to go to the box office to see if there were any same day tickets to be had. Turns out they have a lottery everyday for FRONT ROW seats. Here’s the deal: A lottery application has to be filled out at the Prince of Wales theater 2.5 hours prior to the start of the show. At 5 pm, John filled out his lottery application (photo ID is required). At 5:30pm, two hours before the show, they drew names from one of those rolling cages. It’s all very exciting as the names are called out. John went on a Tuesday, there were 21 tickets available for about 100 hopefuls and, “Hallelujah Joseph Smith”, John was the sixth person called for two tickets. The winning tickets are only £20 each. Quite a deal for any West End show but especially for this very extremely popular one.

The lottery in progress...

The lottery in progress…

John will his winning ticket

John with his winning ticket

Review (hopefully without any spoilers but I will mention a specific line and song titles)

Front row is not always considered the best seat in the house because you get a myopic view of things but I love to see the actors up close ~ sweat, spit and all. I’m in awe of those who can perform on stage night after night with such precision and energy. “Book of Mormon” did not fail in any aspect. The actors, music, energy, set were all top-notch.

The play was written by the creators of South Park and it’s a religious satirical musical with plenty of clever lyrics and catchy tunes to keep your toes tapping. My favorites are “Turn it Off” and “You and Me (but Mostly Me)” which both John and I find ourselves singing frequently around the house. But mostly John.

Having lived in an area of the US with a lot of Mormons, I caught the little detailed nuances regarding the culture and terminology  of the Mormons but it seemed everyone in the theater enjoyed the show even the older Spanish-speaking man sitting directly behind me. During the opening number of “Hello” with the Mormon Boys, it had me wondering where they found so many Mormons who could act and sing. Even their twinkling eyes had me convinced they were the real deal. There’s something about a devout Mormon and his “smiling, shining eyes”. But when the “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” came on and those same guys came out, they looked nothing like Mormons. And it wasn’t a costume change, it was solely their attitude and great acting.

It’s sacrilegious, vulgar and I have to admit during one song I thought to myself “I’m going to have to go see “Mama Mia” so I can wash off the stench of this song.” BUT the story itself is about acknowledging and respecting everyone’s right to follow (and sometimes invent themselves) any faith they choose. It’s an all-out onslaught at Mormonism through many fun songs but it could have been any religion’s dogma. What I took away from the play was it’s easier to tolerant another person’s religion if we look at the effect it has on the practitioners and not at the religion itself. In other words, actions speak louder than words.

Having seen the show, I’m surprised several British reviews I’ve read are less than glowing. I thought they’d love the satire. Perhaps it’s the complexity of the American view of religious tolerance, no matter how extreme the religion (so long as it doesn’t physically hurt others).

I would definitely recommend “Book of Mormon” but with the caveat that they understand it’s satire. Or as my favorite line in the play states “It’s a F&&^ing metaphor, you didn’t really think there was a Salt Lake City, did you?”

(more…)

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30 Rock Observation Deck

We tried to cram as much into our NYC weekend as we could and I think we did a pretty good job for two days. Logan had so much fun, she asked a couple times why we can’t live there. Hmmm… after all her world travels, she may have found the city that really does have it all.

We arrived about 1pm on Friday, checked in and immediately headed over to the Javits Convention Center and John registered  for the marathon. There was a lot of excitement at the Marathon Expo and my favorite part was getting brochures for future runs which John might drag me to ~ Rio de Janiero sounded promising.

On Saturday morning, we headed to Rockefeller Plaza, went to the Observation Deck for some great views of the city, then watched the skaters on the ice rink. No Christmas tree yet.

When making plans for a Broadway show, I decided to splurge (just this once) and got front row tickets to Mama Mia at the Winter Garden Theater. And front row they were ~ our seats were so close to the stage, we could see the actors spit and one even winked at Logan. The conductor greeted us with “Welcome to the front row.” In addition to seeing the stage, we could see BELOW where the band was playing. Logan was fascinated with the musicians so she missed a little of the story line.

The show was fabulous and I highly recommend it to anyone going to the city. One word of warning: I still have those catchy Abba songs playing in my head especially the title song “Mama Mia.”

A lot of the fun of NYC is people watching and we did a whole lot of that ~ John decided there must be a uniform for women since every other woman wore the following: jeans, black shoes/boots, and a black knee-length coat.

Our hotel was located at 3rd Ave and East 53rd so we we could walk to most areas easily although Logan & I did catch a cab a couple times during our outings alone. She had fun trying to “hail a taxi” and was getting very good at it by the end of the visit.

Even for a city such as New York which has seen more than its share of world events, everyone was abuzz about the marathon. It was a big deal for all the boroughs and the excitement was palpable for runners and non-runners alike.

Since the weekend was really all about the marathon, John will be posting his take on the big event sometime soon but here are the hightlights:

Race Time: 4:21:40          Pace: 9:59             Overall Place: 18,504 (out of 38,554)

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