“Everybody loves ABBA, even if they don’t want to admit it,” dramaturge Jeanette Sanchez wrote in the program for Village Theatre’s production of “Mamma Mia!”

It’s true for me, and I’ll admit it freely.

ABBA’s music has always given me the ability to hold simultaneous emotions: the pain of gut-wrenching heartbreak and the euphoria of singing and dancing my heart out. I’ve seen both movies based around ABBA songs: “Mamma Mia!” (2008) and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018), but this was the first time I had seen the live production.

Here’s what stood out to me as most relevant for Seattleites interested in the show.

Escapism to better weather

The alleged trophy for Seattleites who trudge through nine months of overcast skies and endless rain is about three months of glorious, sunny weather. This year, though, the reward seems to be getting further out of reach.

That’s why allowing myself to get transported to the show’s Greek island setting felt so magical. I soaked up the royal blues of the Mediterranean Sea, the warm pinks and oranges of the sunset, and the bright white of the architecture in the set design. I longed for the crisp linens, swimsuits and beach hats, and flowing outfits the costume designer selected.

If I zeroed in on the stage, I could pretend like I was on a tropical vacation instead of experiencing another patchy week of rain.


Relatable money woes

In “Mamma Mia!,” Sophie discovers her mother Donna’s old diary filled with tales of the three men Donna dated 20 years ago, and begins a quest to figure out which is her father before her wedding.

Donna provided Sophie with a loving home on the single income she earned running an inn in the Greek islands. Still, one can’t help but wish for more flexibility in their wallet. Hearing “money, money, money — must be funny — in the rich man’s world” felt relatable, especially at a time when rent is high and inflation is soaring.

I fantasize about how much more financial security I could have with more money, shake my fist righteously at the rich men of the world, and like Donna, continue to find joy while singing and dancing with my friends.

Joy of music

“What would life be? Without a song or dance?” the cast asks while singing “Thank You for the Music.”

After two years of the pandemic, we no longer have to wonder. Culture — song, dance, art, theater, live performance — is what makes life rich and worth enjoying.

As the cast performed “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo,” it was impossible not to clap or tap a foot along to the music. By the end, the whole crowd got out of their seats to cheer.


Search for identity

This rendition, directed by Faith Bennett Russell, had deeper meaning. Russell followed a call from the LA Arts Anti-Racist Theatre Standards to reimagine work with more actors of color in lead roles and produced a West African-influenced production, the program said.

In planning the show, Russell introduced the concept of Sankofa, a word from the Akan people in Ghana that communicates a journey to the past to bring forward what is needed in the moment to confront the future.

Sophie yearns to find answers about her identity, as a daughter without a father, by exploring her mother’s past. Sophie and Donna both confront their history and their pre-held beliefs and together move forward.

Chosen family

Sophie spends most of the show trying to decipher which man is her father — and thus who should walk her down the aisle at her wedding. By the end of the show, it no longer matters and she decides they can all have a place in her life.

In doing so, she’s creating her chosen family, a term popularized by the LGBTQ+ community to refer to the relationships outside of biological relatives that provide kinship, love and support.

In fact, one of the men, Harry Bright, comes out as gay and says he has found love with his partner Nigel but is still committed to being one of Sophie’s fathers.


ABBA resurgence

ABBA, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, continues to remain relevant decades later.

TikTok has given a resurgence to the Swedish pop group’s classic tunes, like “Lay All Your Love On Me,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” “Slipping Through My Fingers,” and most recently “Angeleyes,” by turning the songs into memes and providing background music for dances and story-time videos.

Exploring ABBA and “Mamma Mia!” through the lens of TikTok and the Sankofa concept shows the classic songs and dialogue can still provide a modern perspective.

“Mamma Mia!”

Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, with some songs by Stig Anderson, book by Catherine Johnson, originally conceived by Judy Craymer. Through July 10 at Village Theatre’s Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah; July 15-Aug. 17 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Masks required; $28-$86; 425-392-2202, villagetheatre.org