'Mamma Mia': A Swedish Treat in Southampton

The costumes in “Mamma Mia!” are as festive as ABBA’s music. Dane DuPuis

Center Stage at the Southampton Cultural Center has come up with the perfect antidote to a dreary March: “Mamma Mia!” What better cure for seasonal affective disorder than the jukebox musical based on the songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA that ran for 5,773 performances on Broadway and racked up five Tony nominations. Clearly the songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and the playwright Catherine Johnson were onto something.

“Mamma Mia!” — which opens at the center Friday and runs through March 24 — tells the story of Sophie Sheridan, a 20-year-old who is about to be married and wants her father to give her away. The problem is, she doesn’t know which of her mother’s three former suitors is her father, so she invites all three to the wedding.

“It takes the complete catalog of ABBA hits and very loosely strings them together into a story about a young girl trying to find her father,” said Michael Disher, who is directing the production. Among the more than 20 hits are “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Lay Your Love On Me,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Thank You For the Music,” and the title track. Amanda Jones is the musical director and Alyssa Kelly the choreographer.

“Mamma Mia!” follows on the heels of “Love Letters,” which ran for two weeks last month at the center. While the script and staging of that two-character play were tight, according to Mr. Disher, “This is just huge, all over the stage, in your face, and in your ears. I’m just asking people to do nothing more than have a really good time and hear some music that might be part of the library of their youth.”

The musical is orchestrated for bass, guitar, percussion, and multiple keyboards. “But the work those keyboards do!” said Mr. Disher. “I do not know how Amanda Jones plays two keyboards simultaneously, with synthesized inserts, but she does.”

The cast features Mary Sabo as Donna Sheridan, Ava Bianchi as Donna’s daughter, Sophie, and Tom Rosante, Jack Seabury, and Rich Gardini as Donna’s past suitors. The cast also includes Linda Aydinian, Marco Barrila, Julie Crowley, Alyssa Kelly, James Kelly, Katrina Lovett, Michele Marks, Tina Marie Realmuto, Amanda Kyle-Summers, Kristin Teuber, Josephine Wallace, Kristin Whiting, and Sam Terry. 

When he reviewed the show for The New York Times in 2001, Ben Brantley called it “a giant singing Hostess cupcake” and went on to note that the woman who accompanied him to the show hissed early on, “I hate the ’70s.” However, when the curtain calls came, she was openly weeping. “It gives off a moist-eyed sincerity that is beyond camp,” Mr. Brantley concluded.

Performances are on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, $15 for students under 21, and dinner-theater and brunch-theater packages are available. Tickets can be purchased at scc-arts.org or by calling 631-287-4377.