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Saturday, September 7, 2002

My worst fear was that "Mamma Mia!" couldn't possibly be as good as everyone told me it was. So instead of setting myself up for disappointment by expecting too much, I was expecting that I couldn't possibly like it that much. Today I was blown away by the fact that it was glorious and fun. It was just as wonderful as they all said it was. I guess the fact that they all said it should have clued me in.

The touring Broadway production is at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, and Mom and I took the bus down to see. Mom is an aisle person and I'm a window person, so that makes us good traveling companions. She likes to chat with all the friends and strangers up and down the aisle. I like to sit and sulk and pretend to look out the window so no one will talk to me. It's a symbiotic relationship.

When we signed up for this trip we thought we'd be eating at the Carnelian Room, high atop the Bank of America building, but when they heard we were coming they decided to close for lunch. We ended up at the Waterfront Restaurant, overlooking the Bay at Pier 7 on the Embarcadero. Did you guess it's a seafood place? I had the crab Louie.

After lunch, we got back on the bus for the trip up Market Street to the Orpheum. Fortunately for Mom, there wasn't much walking, but she's getting stronger every day. We were slow, and she had to lean on me from time to time, but it was a beautiful, sunny day, and we weren't late for curtain.

Because of Mom's injury, we were given seats in the orchestra section. Most of our group sat upstairs in the loge, but we were in Row C, the third row back from the stage (and, coincidentally, the orchestra itself). We could almost make eye contact with the performers (not the musicians, because they were under the stage). It was amazing.

The musical is based on the songs of ABBA, and the story is set on a small Greek island, where a young woman, on the eve of her wedding, is thinking about the father she never knew. These songs were written as pop songs in the seventies and eighties. They were written to dance to, not in the tradition of musical theater at all. But they've been shaped into a charming, exhilarating show with irresistible characters.

And even though this dance music is now part of a Broadway musical, the dance element is a strong part of the show. The songs themselves are so infectious that even those in the audience who'd never heard of ABBA (unthinkable!) were drawn in. I was one of the youngest on our bus (and I'm not all that young), but I heard nothing but positive comments on the way home.

And to think this was only a matinee performance, and these folks had to do it all again later on tonight, with the same energy and enthusiasm.


Walnut tree, close up.

Once again, I'm raving about a show it's probably too late for anyone reading to see. I doubt any comments I'd make would have any effect on the box office, since the theater is packed for every performance. It's just that this is the kind of experience you want to share. I'd like for everyone I know to have a chance to see "Mamma Mia!" The San Francisco run closes next weekend, and then this company moves on to Los Angeles.

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