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My take: As I wrote in my review of the 2002 USA tour of this show on its first visit to the Fox, I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of the 1970s pop quartet ABBA. When they were cranking out hits like "Dancing Queen", I was sneering at them and listening to Elvis Costello and The Ramones. But when I first saw Mamma Mia! in London back in 2001 surrounded by wildly enthusiastic Brits (who apparently feel about ABBA the way the French feel about Jerry Lewis), I had to admit it was great fun. I found it a completely captivating evening of musical theatre, mostly because Judy Craymer, director Phyllida Lloyd and playwright Catherine Johnson (all from Britain, where this show began) have put together a fast-paced, funny, and occasionally even touching show that can send even a die-hard ABBA hater like yours truly out of the theatre with a smile on his face and a handful of those bouncy, hook-laden melodies rattling around in his brain. So enjoy it, already.
Photo: Patrick Huber
My take: Actors' Studio continues to do local theatre a big service with its yearly survey of new plays, always anchored by a Neil LaBute piece. The Carter Lewis play is a trenchant satire which is very current, which might mean its shelf life is not long; catch it while you can. Writing for Ladue News, Mark Bretz says said the first part of the festival "offers some intriguing works for consideration...check it out both for entertainment and education." "Though they may benefit from a little tightening", writes Tina Farmer at KDHX, "the three plays featured in part two deliver intriguing, thought provoking theater."