Davidson Community Players is currently performing Mamma Mia! as its third mainstage production of 2019. Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of the Swedish pop band ABBA are credited for the music and lyrics of this jukebox musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1999. The show was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried in 2008, followed by a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, last year. Davidson Community Players’ stage production, made up of a singing and dancing cast of almost 30 and accompanied by a live rhythm section, offers an energetic show full of classic dance hits.

The musical’s book (written by Catherine Johnson) tells the story of Sophie (Hannah Puryear), a young fiancée in the midst of preparing for her upcoming wedding. She and her mother, Donna (Jenna Tyrell), live and own an inn on a little Greek island as a two-woman team.

The entire musical takes place at the Greek inn, which set designer Dee Blackburn has crafted as a large, tan, and ivy-covered multi-piece set to fill the stage. Several of the archways had doors from which the ensemble frequently came, peeking out to eavesdrop and contribute to conversations in song. The set was made even more interesting and appealing by the lighting (by Greg Thorn), which illuminated the stage using almost all of the colors of the rainbow at least once, mimicking accents in the music and story.

Sophie’s wedding preparations are coming together, but there’s still one thing missing that would make the day perfect: a father to walk her down the aisle. I know what you’re thinking, but he’s not dead – Sophie just doesn’t know who he is. Her mother never speaks of him, on purpose. Naturally, Sophie has always been curious, and shortly before the wedding, she finally gets a lead: she finds her mother’s diary from the year Sophie was born. Jackpot. All of Donna’s love affairs are described, and three names emerge as potential fathers: Bill (Richard Colven), Harry (Bill Reilly), and Sam (Mike Carroll).

This is all described in the opening songs “I Have a Dream” and “Honey Honey,” sung strongly by Puryear, who has a wonderful, full voice. Sophie sends off wedding invitations to the three men and then describes her plan to bring them to her wedding to her two best friends, Ali (Rebekah Gresser) and Lisa (Chandler Wolfe).

Surprisingly, all three men show up for the wedding. Donna, of course, has been left in the dark (as have the men, who don’t really know what they’re doing at the wedding, either), and is devastated when she encounters them. Turns out, Donna doesn’t know who Sophie’s father is either. She was with Bill, Sam, and Harry each within a few-month period, so it really could be any one of them. Donna expresses her shock at seeing the three former lovers in the title song, “Mamma Mia,” and then is comforted by her goofy best friends, Tanya (Sarah Farra) and Rosie (Melissa Bowden) in “Chiquitita.” Tyrell was an enthusiastic Donna, and Farra and Bowden were full of personality. The ensemble backed both of these songs and, as in all of its musical numbers, was always full of energy and expression, whether supporting from off or on stage.

It’s always nice to have live accompaniment along with an ensemble, and this eight-member band kept up well with their singers. A few times, the band was not quite balanced to the actors – the actors were so vibrant – while the band matched them dynamically, their tempos tended to drag. Although it could have used a little more driving in tempo to maintain the actors’ energy, the band played accurately, and did not overpower its singers.

Sophie’s wedding preparations continue. Meanwhile, Bill, Sam, and Harry start to catch on to why they may have been invited, and each one ends up thinking he must be Sophie’s father. Each one individually pledges to walk Sophie down the aisle, and Sophie agrees. This, of course, is a dilemma, and Sophie goes frantically to her fiancé, Sky (Lucas Devore), to tell him, for the first time, what her plan with the men has been. Sky is upset at the fact that Sophie didn’t enlighten him on this earlier and expresses some doubts about the wedding. He storms out.

What follows are a bunch more ABBA hits, such as “S.O.S.,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” and “Winner Takes It All” as Sophie, Donna, and the men they love (or loved) seek to sort out their secrets, relationships, and futures.

Mamma Mia! was funny and entertaining, and maybe even a little touching. But more so, it felt like an excuse to sing and dance to ABBA songs that may or may not share thematic relevance. But that didn’t bother me; I love ABBA. It’s clear that the cast (as well the audience), in all of its enthusiasm, color, and flamboyance, does too.

Mamma Mia! continues through Sunday, June 30. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.