last monday night, i was lucky enough to be invited to a special "family and friends" screening of the new mamma mia movie.
meryl streep was not there.
christine baranski was. "this was the best time i've ever had making a movie," she said. "i'm proud to be able to say, as all of you can, that i've now had the mamma mia experience."
fellow wisconsinite bradley whitford was there (he and baranski are working together in boeing, boeing.) director phyllida lloyd, producer judy cramer, and writer catherine johnson were all there.
more importantly, mike cannon was there.
and anthony cefala. and pearce bunting, and glynn turner, and kristin harris, and denise reynolds, and lori haley fox, and andy parkhurst, and michael grayman, and sophia thomas, and tim booth, and tim ewing, and anne tolpegin, and laura ware, and lisa mandell, and robert mcqueen, and martha banta, and amy jacobs, and devin keudell, and...sweety. and lots of other dear, old friends i know because of mamma mia.
there were hundreds of other people too, filling up two gigantic theaters. current and former mamma mia cast members, creative types, producers, directors, musicians, theater staff.
it was sort of like my first AA meeting, in the basement of de paul hospital in milwaukee, wisconsin. i looked around the room and thought, "i don't know all of you, but i know we all have that thing in common." it was at the same time delightful and completely frightening.
sort of like the movie itself.
now, by frightening, i don't mean bad. just overwhelming. seeing on screen, the scenes and lines and choreography you know so well, is just a little bizarre at times.
personally, i thought meryl streep made a lovely donna (just not as lovely as lauren mufson) julie walters a terrific rosie, and amanda seyfried a great sophie.
reviews seem to be either love it or hate it (if you're a.o. scott from the new york times, love it and hate it) just like the reviews for the stage show: if you're in bakersfield, you're "a giddy good time" and you've got "a rich baritone that fills the hall." if you're in portland, you're "a stunning bore" with "a nasal tenor that inspires no confidence." (note to grumpy MM reviewers: nobody cares how witty you can be. the houses were full every night with people singing and dancing in the aisles. i doubt you get that for your little book on how you got started in musical theater.)
the crowd on monday was raucous, loud, and had a great time. but these were folks who had (and have) a great time doing the show every night, many of whom realize -- there's something very special about the mamma mia experience.
(in rehearsal: the original company of mamma mia tour 2, january '02.)