By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
A new'70s musical, Mamma Mia!, has tourists dancing in the aisles, though discerning critics are dancing down the aisles in search of an exit. The show creates a plot around a bunch of old ABBAhits, which is a little like making burgers out of Jell-O, though it's mainly an excuse for giddy straight camp and tawdry soap opera to be Björn again. In this lowbrow affairwhich makes Aida look like Sunday in the Park With Georgethe dialogue rarely gets more sophisticated than a Here's Lucy, the acting seems geared to the sightless (except for the three lead ladies, who are smart enough to poke fun at the material), and there's so much cheese on display that the Playbill should come with crackers.
But there is a distinct popular appeal in the dopey, flashy treatment of the Scandinavian disco legend by way of a plot borrowed from Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell. And there's gay context galore, both intended ("I hope to get my tongue around a little Greek," leers a male character) and unintended ("Does your mother know that you're out?" a woman sings to her young suitor). By the time the groom appears in the wedding gown, you might be willing to give in to the awfulness, but even if you don't, this thing is such a franchise that Bloomingdale's already has a Mamma Mia! shop, filled with peasant blouses that show off your nipples. ABBA-dabba-dowear a bra.
While we're on the Very White Way, I hear that the ever slinky Morgan Fairchildtried out for a role in The Women (in which Jennifer Tillygoes naked, except for her Jungle Red nails) and confided to other auditioners that her manager had to pull every string imaginable just to get her there. Unfortunately, she went home jobless. I'm upsetand again, you must believe me!
And kindly trust me that, though Amélieis even more popular in France than Jerry Lewis, the inventively gimmicked-up movie unfortunately caves in to an overabundance of precious whimsy, tra la. At the premiere, the director-cowriter, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, was surprisingly straightforward, saying, "The Paris we show in the movie is a little bit fake. We actually have the traffic jam, it rains, and we have dog shit on the street." Ooh la yuckJohn Waters would love it!