The Ogunquit Playhouse is celebrating its momentous 85th anniversary with one of theater’s most flamboyant dance parties, “Mamma Mia!” The infectious musical is tasty fluff, sweetened with a catchy ABBA score and vibrant rainbow costuming that keeps the smiles coming and toes tapping through the exuberant finale.

Opening night was a fun-filled blast from the past. It was Friday night, and the audience was “looking out for a place to go, where they play the right music, getting into the swing.” They definitely found their “Dancing Queen.”

The audience was whisked away to the Greek isles with Adam Koch’s dreamlike set of moon-bathed docks and flower-adorned stone buildings. There was a radiant serenity as Briana Rapa, who stars as Sophie Sheridan, opened the production with “I Have a Dream,” singing about her character’s plan to find her father and have him walk her down the aisle.

Rapa is making her Ogunquit Playhouse debut following an international tour as Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” She is a ray of sunshine as the perky bride-to-be, charming the audience with her sweet and soaring soprano.

The Playhouse has enlisted an impressive Broadway cast to bring the international smash hit to Ogunquit’s stage. Jodie Langel heads up the veterans as Sophie’s mother, Donna. She is feisty with a mature sultriness to her vocals on such songs as “Money, Money, Money.”

Angie Schworer and Kate Chapman join Langel as Donna’s best friends, Tanya and Rosie. The three fuel the laughter as they reminisce about their youth in the ’70s, when they were a girl group called Donna and the Dynamos. They are a sight to see as they belt out “Dancing Queen” into a hairdryer, curling iron and purple vibrator.

Veteran Broadway, film and television star Patrick Cassidy makes his Ogunquit debut as Donna’s debonair past love, Sam Carmichael. His rich vocals blend with Langel’s, offering moving performances of such songs as “S.O.S.”

Cassidy is entertainingly paired with Broadway veterans Fred Inkley and David Engel as Sophie’s other possible dads, Bill Austin and Harry Bright. Inkley debuts after an acclaimed stint as Jean Valjean in Broadway’s “Les Miserables,” and Engel returns to the Playhouse, previously seen as Gomez in “The Addams Family.”

All three “dads” shine in a performance with Rapa of “Thank You for the Music.”

The 24-member cast also stars Mike Heslin as Sophie’s fiancé, Sky; Sarah Faye Beard and Taylor Broadard as Sophie’s bouncy friends, Ali and Lisa; and Andy Tofa and DJ Petrosino as the local hired hands, Pepper and Eddie.

Choreographer Richard J. Hinds captures the spirit of ABBA’s music with a series of delightfully over-the-top dance numbers that are beautifully executed by the energetic ensemble in a variety of outrageous costumes by Winfield Murdoch that include disco jumpsuits and Greek soldier codpieces.

Their timing is perfect on the laugh-out-loud fun “Lay All Your Love On Me,” with the male ensemble dancing in wet suits and flippers. “Under Attack” is another standout, offering a delightfully surreal montage of Greek mythology.

“Mamma Mia!” directed by Larry Raben, is high-octane entertainment, with an endearing cast and loads of campy fun. Whether you are an ABBA fan, or just looking for a light-hearted diversion, the production has a way of making you feel that “you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life.”

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ahboyle

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