the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tonight’s Performance of Mamma Mia


(As judged by Debbie Allen and Mary Murphy of “So You Think You Can Dance?” and Neilochka)

Debbie Allen


“Can I just say that this performance was perfection personified. Everyone in the cast deserves a standing ovation. My Debbie Allen Dance Academy is open to every single one of you. Mamma Mia was intense and emotional. I felt the spirt from within. Thank you. Thank you everyone who worked on this show. You have inspired a whole new generation of musical theater lovers. You have inspired ME. The vocabulary of your souls touched us today. Thank you.”

Mary Murphy


“All I can say is that after watching this performance of Mamma Mia is — WOO-HOO — GET me TWO TICKETs to the freakin’ hot tamale train and drive it through the tunnel of Abbalicious love!”



“Imagine there’s a popular song that you really like. It speaks to you. The lyrics are about love and loss and when you listen to this song, it feels as if was written especially for you. Now, make believe you hear this song… in a commercial for Viagra.

That is how I felt at Mamma Mia. Like it was one big Viagra commercial. This show truly sucked. For once, I wish I never heard the drums, Fernando. I’m surprised more ABBA fans aren’t insulted by this lame musical. The story is inane, and the entire script seems to be constructed around excuses to use ABBA songs, most of which make no sense in the context of the story. I really love musical theater, and Mamma Mia is probably one of the worst musicals I have seen.

Despite their reputation as bubble-gum group, I think some of ABBA’s songs are very heart-felt and beautiful. Mamma Mia is just cheesy nostalgic crap.

Bleh. (and I even shelled out for the good seats!) At least, Sophia and I made fun of it all the way home.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: the infamous Yes, I Am Wearing Women’s Panties!


  1. Tuck

    See what happens when you take a chance?

  2. better safe than sorry

    i’m not an ABBA fan, maybe that’s why it appeals to me even more after reading your review. you could always do your own “musical” of what you think it should be?

  3. butterfly

    Well, hopefully, the “bonding-in-mockery” that you had on the way home with Sophia (should have) brought you a little bit closer and fostered your intimacy levels — I hope you at least got laid when you got home?

    Maybe you two need to whip out the Curious George underwear…see where it goes…After all, it would be hard for anybody to accuse you of being a nag when you have a big smiling monkey on your penis! Or when you have brains hanging out, for that matter. 😉 V

  4. tamarika

    Oy – the disappointment for you! I’m tickled that you thought it was going to be more or deeper or …. etc. Of course it was only about their songs – oh yes, and the atmosphere, perhaps, of a “bygone” era! When I saw it I just sat back and enjoyed the songs. Just another way of hearing ABBA, I guess.

  5. Geeky Tai-Tai

    I truly thought that you were going to be elated after seeing this production. I’m sorry it sucked so badly.

  6. Mrs Mogul

    I remember the ABBA album my sister had in her record collection. I used to love dancing to them in the tacky 70’s club I used to go to in NYC. It’s great DRUNK DANCING MUSIC!

  7. MA

    You were asking for trouble, Neil. Just watch Muriel’s Wedding. Much better.

  8. Roy

    Sorry you didn’t like it. My theory has been if critics like it I will hate it 80% of the time it works.

  9. Janet

    Am I the only one who hits mute when Mary Murphy comes on? I don’t think so.

  10. Rattling The Kettle

    Well, that’s your problem right there – you like musical theater.

  11. wendy

    oh, I thought this would do the trick..bummer. There was a long while I LOATHED musical comedy..I wanted the darker truth. But now, I love it. I love the escape and the attention to detail, and the big crescendo at the end. But you and Sophia are on your way..laughting at life..good or bad, is better than most therapy!

  12. churlita

    Well, at least you and Sophia were able to bond over making fun of it. That has to be worth something…

  13. Liz R

    Hi neil!! I was looking through your photos from NYC and I wanted to tell you that I too lived at 97-19 63rd Drive in Rego Park! It a building full of condos right?? I lived there from Auguat 1988 to May 1989 (when I left my fiance to live with my now-husband!!)

    What a small world! Have a good weekend!

  14. Bre

    Crappy musical though it may be, it still makes for great dancing around the apartment music!

  15. Nance

    “…the entire script seems to be constructed around excuses to use ABBA songs…”

    Well, duh.

  16. Rhea

    I was a blank slate. I had no previous associations with ABBA music, so when I went I actually really liked the show.

  17. he's dead, jim!

    Hi Neil, Long time no see… My fault.
    What possessed you to see this show? Why not just rock out to ABBA “Gold” in the privacy of your home?
    Hope you are well…. ~HDJ

  18. Bryna

    Mary Murphy needs to shut it. Your review was exactly how I felt about the whole situation. My mother gave my husband and I tickets to Mama Mia. I was like, “oh, great…”. Then she told me that she was between that and Wicked. I wanted to DIE! Who choosed Mamma Mia over WICKED?!?!!?

    My mother was mislead. I never want to see that play again, and my husband fell asleep. He was not moved!

  19. kanani

    I know how you feel.
    I felt like that about CATS.
    The other thing that really sucks is that it probably set you back a couple of hundred bucks for the experience.

  20. Alice

    aw, i’m sorry! i guess i know not to see this now. hopefully it was fun just to get out on the town for a night?

  21. Lefty

    But at least there was nudity, right?

  22. Neil

    Liz R — We were almost neighbors!

    Nance — I know. But the songs sounded so forced, and made very little sense. At least in old Fred Astaire-type musicals, they threw in irrelevant songs, but made the stories about “putting on a show” to motivate the songs.

    Mamma Mia —

    “Remember the old days when you used to be fun. You use to be… a “dancing queen.”

    Cue the music.

    Jim — Hey, long time… I’ll speak to you on IM!

    Alice — Of course it was fun. As someone who likes stories, you actually learn more from a crappy one than a good one.

    Lefty — The only nudity was on Showtime later in the evening.

  23. tamarika

    I remember feeling exactly like this at “Phantom of the Opera.” Was bored, frustrated and resentful of a wasted evening. Of course I could not tell anyone at the time. Everyone was crazy for that show!

  24. danielle

    i went in expecting that i was going to totally hate it, and i actually didn’t. i didn’t love it by any means, and wouldn’t go around recommending it (like i do with wicked), but i didn’t regret taking the free tickets.

  25. Long Story Longer


  26. LVGurl

    Okay, phew. Now I don’t feel like such an outcast.

    I saw Mamma Mia about four years ago, and if I recall correctly, my friend and I walked out at intermission. I just assumed it sucked because it was a lousy Vegas production. Or, I was just a jaded cynic.

    It was Jerry Springer set to ABBA! MOM’S A WHORE. WHO’S MY DADDY??

    Voulez-voooooouuuus! Uh-hu!

    And yet, everyone raved about the darn show…

    Reading your review, I feel vindicated. Thank you, Neil.

  27. mckay

    i knew i made the right choice when my date asked me to choose between seeing MamaMia and Wicked.

    we’re seeing Wicked next weekend. i’m more excited to see the show than i am about seeing my date.

    neil. maybe you can give me advice. how do i let my date know his breath stinks and his cologne is horrendous? i’m too embarrassed to tell him, but being within four feet is painful. he’s a very nice person, btw.

  28. Noel

    Did you know that the stupid plot was stolen from a flop Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane musical? As someone who writes musicals, I can’t stand this bastard step-child, the musical that’s intentionally stupid. Will you be in New York between September 28-October 6? Come see my new show, Such Good Friends. I can promise you it’s not intentionally stupid. Although… I can’t promise you it’s not stupid.

  29. Neil

    Noel, I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ll put up the link when it gets closer.

    I understand that Mamma Mia is what it is — an excuse for people to kvell in the nostalgia of ABBA songs, but despite some amusing moments with the mother’s friends, the whole thing was as flat as a pancake from Pann’s on La Cienega.

  30. Jessica

    I’d have rather eaten dog crap rather see this piece of crap show and waste my money like that. This pedestrian piece of junk needs to be wiped off the planet earth by my friend Megatron and the rest of the Decepticons! Please, please, please, please save your hard earned dollars for something original. All of these idiots were lip sinking and I was truly and utterly disgusted with all of their histrionic over acting. Ruing Abba’s classical pieces with terrible actors who were frankly fat and ugly! Ugh, I’m glad I got the hell out of there. I yelled after leaving this piece of crap show. Pedestrian and boring………………

    It was also very annoying to see short little chip munk female ugly dancers. Gawd, get some hotties up there you stupid producers!!! Hey Mandalay, get rid of this piece of junk and replace with a real show! Pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!

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