Nearly a decade after its first stop in Boston, "Mamma Mia!" now feels like an old friend. And like all old friends, when they visit you always have a good time.
The highlight of this production is definitely Brighton-born, Boston-based actress Mary Callanan, who has been touring as Rosie for two years. The local favorite (with two-plus decades of Boston theater on her résumé) takes the stage to thunderous applause and then proceeds to earn those cheers.
Though she owns the cavernous room with crowd-favorite, "Take A Chance On Me," Callanan also single-handedly saves the otherwise avoidable production with her flawless comic timing, impressive physical comedy and a voice that effortlessly reaches the rafters.
As one part of the show's long-defunct girl band Donna and the Dynamos, Callanan's Rose sports spandex and delivers ABBA treats like "Dancing Queen" and "Chiquitita" with Donna (Kaye Tuckerman) and Tanya (Alison Ewing) to the toe-tapping, head-bobbing crowd.
The remainder of the ensemble doesn't fare quite as well, however. Flat vocal moments, a decided lack of energy and some listlessly executed choreography might make "Mamma Mia!" neophytes wonder what all the fuss is about.
The first time this musical visited the Hub, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" and "Voulez-Vous" were electrifying moments that made you dance in your seat. By the time the big finish arrived, the audience was dancing in the aisles.
Almost everything in this production feels a little slow, and nearly everyone seems a little tired. Perhaps they should take a cue from Callanan because the local gal is "having the time of her life" -- and that sentiment is shared by everyone watching her.
If you go
Through June 24
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston