Mamma Mia!

Why is Mamma Mia! still with us? How can a dumb show packaged out of Top-40 pop tunes remain on Broadway for over 10 years now, continue to tour, and inspire a 2008 film starring Meryl Streep in pigtails that became the highest-grossing movie musical in the world? Easy: Those aren't just any pop tunes—they're ABBA. The compelling Euro-kitsch drama built into the melodies of Swedish songsmiths Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus cannot be denied, even when it's wedged into an insipid story about a young woman getting married on a Grecian island and the three men she's invited to determine which is her father. When mom first spots one of her former lovers, she's moved to express, "So when you're near me, darling, can't you hear me? S.O.S." You may laugh at such a sentiment, but you can't get it out of your head. Because, depending on your age, it's been there for decades already; and, let's be honest, you mean it, too, when you're singing at the top of your lungs in your car. And fortunately, Mamma Mia! never takes itself too seriously. So once you get over the annoyance of being entertained by such frivolous, commercialized nostalgia (I cried uncle about a half-hour in), you can thrill to shirtless island boys dancing in scuba gear. It must be conceded that those damn Swedes really knew what they were doing. STEVE WIECKING

Tue., March 20, 7:30 p.m.; March 21-25, 2012

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