This piece was written as a social media reaction to a “Chicago Sun-Times” review (here) of Marriott Theatre’s current production of “Mamma Mia!” and is published with the author’s permission.
By Cassie Slater
I’ll start this by saying, reviews are reviews. If you read ’em, you’re dancing with the devil. You may like what you see and you may not. I read them because I’m a spaz and I can’t handle not knowing what’s out in the universe regarding my person.
I’ve been called lackluster. I’ve been called a budding star. I’ve been called the best in the show. I’ve been called the worst in the show. I do a little dance with the devil every time, digest the words and eventually (good or bad) they fall away.
We’ve had one review this time around that I just can’t shake. The pulled quote that’s ringing in my ears is:
“Theresa Ham’s character-defining costumes make the most of the many “real women” figures on stage, just as the gold and silver spandex outfits outline the perfect bodies of the terrific chorus dancers…”
Theresa’s costumes are beautiful. Truly.
The thing that’s confusing are the quotes around the “real woman figures” juxtaposed with the “perfect bodies” of the dancers. I would argue that every woman on that stage is a “REAL WOMAN.” I also would argue that mine, Danni (Smith’s), and Meghan (Murphy’s) bodies are also perfect.
I’ve spent almost all of my 36 years disliking the body that was given to me. Too tall. Too curvy, too early.
At best, you can call my relationship with food flawed. At its worst, you’d call it destructive. I’ve lost 65 lbs. gained 40 lbs. lost 50 lbs. got pregnant. Lost the baby weight. Got a wallop of postpartum depression and gained all of the baby weight back and then some. Then lost some more.
I’ve subsisted on nothing but skinny cows and Miller Lites (and was told how amazing I looked) and then rounded a corner where I fed myself with whole foods and felt strong and healthy. I’ve beat myself up for almost 36 years because someone, somewhere, was telling me I wasn’t perfect. That my body was something that deserves quotation marks. That if I lost a little more weight, maybe I would get the roles I wanted. Or “cross your fingers that they find a tall guy…or you probably won’t get cast.”
Cut to this feminist celebration of the love women have for one another and their offspring. Rachel and the team at The Marriott found three tall (all 5’9″+) women, with killer voices, wicked comedic chops, and a chemistry that only comes along once in awhile. That’s the story. I was feeling mighty beautiful in my spandex, standing next to these two knock out women.
….and now I feel bad. And it makes me feel bad that I feel bad. And it makes me feel bad that the likelihood that I’ll pass my cuckoo body image down to my daughter is pretty strong. And it makes me feel bad that even if I don’t, there could be someone writing a review (a woman no less) who implies that her body isn’t perfect.
So, I write this long rant to say this (because the mama bear in me has to): Every single woman that inhabits the Marriott Theatre during this run is PERFECT and REAL.
Tall, short, athletic, curvy, flawless skin, dry hair, manicured hands, cracked cuticles, brown, white, black….all perfect, all real. And yes, the costumes are gorgeous. Because Theresa is good at her job and she had some gorgeous bodies to costume.
#mybeautifulbody #bekind #thinkbeforeyouspeak
This website’s review of Marriott’s “Mamma Mia!” may be read here. Submissions to the Compositions section of ChicagolandMusicalTheatre.com are welcomed. Please send them to Producer@ChicagolandMusicalTheatre.com.