By Janee Law
The stage at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport illuminated summertime on a Greek island on Saturday, as it was dressed in accents of blue, white stonewalls, budding flowers and a wooden dock. Audience members took in the beautiful setting as they proceeded to their seats to witness Tony Award-nominated musical “Mamma Mia!”
The story of summer fun unfolds when Sophie Sheridan, portrayed by Hannah Slabaugh, sets out on a quest to discover the identity of her father and invites three men from her mother’s past back to the island the day before her wedding.
The show, directed and choreographed by Antoinette DiPietropolo, is filled with fun and a provocative energy. The ensemble brings humor, heartache and heartwarming performances.
Donna Sheridan, played by Michelle Dawson, embodies a strong and independent mother who unravels in the “Mamma Mia!” number when she comes face-to-face with all three men from her past.
Dawson, who played the character five years ago on Broadway and the Broadway tour, said working with a different director has been amazing.
“It’s still the same story, the same music, but it’s a new vision,” Dawson said after the show. “Getting to experiment with the scenes in a different perspective from the director is really awesome.”
Based on the music of Swedish pop group ABBA, the show includes classic hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “The Winner Takes It All.”
Dawson’s vocal performance is riveting. Starting out low with “Money, Money, Money,” she gradually hits higher notes with each passing song, particularly in “The Winner Takes It All.”
Slabaugh, who portrays the cute and courageous Sophie, said being part of this production and playing her character has been amazing.
“I see so much of myself in her, which is always a good thing. but then there were also places to explore and learn. It’s been a great time,” she said.
Other memorable performances include “Dancing Queen,” during which Donna and her friends Rosie and Tanya, played by Robin Lounsbury and Heather Patterson King respectively, embody girl time by playing dress up and using a shoe, a flashlight and a hairbrush as their microphones.
“I love ‘Slipping Through My Fingers.’ It touches my heart,” Dawson said. “You can feel the audience relating to the characters. There’s a little bit of us in all of those roles.”
The ensemble received a standing ovation at the end of the performance as they engaged with the audience by going into the crowd while singing “Mamma Mia!” and “Dancing Queen” for a second time, and “Waterloo.”
Tia Hamlin, of Huntington, who was in the crowd, called the singing “fantastic.”
“We saw ‘Mamma Mia!’ probably 14 years ago in New York, and the quality here was just fabulous. I think the closing was the best, when everybody is up on their feet and dancing. It was so fun. They never let us down when we come here.”
Performances run through Sept. 11. Show times vary from week to week, but this week performances are slated for 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday; and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
For more show times and to purchase tickets, which range $71-$76, visit the box office at 250 Main St. in Northport Village, call 631-261-2900, or log on to Engemantheater.com.