Sunday, July 13, 2008 | 9:08 p.m.
The movie version of the ABBA-based musical "Mamma Mia!" officially opens to the public on Friday, but it faced its toughest, most knowledgeable -- and most excited -- audience Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas. Current and past members of the cast and crew of the resident "Mamma Mia!" company at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were invited to a special preview of the film, which stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth and seemingly hundreds of gorgeous young people.
I've never seen an audience more jazzed to see a movie -- including the recent "Sex and the City" preview. But then most of the people in the line for the 2 p.m. show at the Rave cineplex at Town Square were about to watch characters they played on stage -- or costumed or conducted or were married to...
"Mamma" marked its fifth anniversary in Vegas in February, and members of previous casts were invited, as well as cast and crew from other Strip stage shows, including "Jersey Boys" and "Phantom," so the invitation-only screening was like a reunion of the Vegas showbiz class of 2008. Everyone got free soft drinks and popcorn, and the queue was full of excited chattering, theatrical greetings, cellphone photo-taking and spontaneous bursts of song.
The cheering and whoo!-ing started before the Universal Studios logo had finished crossing the screen. About five minutes into the film, the picture froze, either to accomodate latecomers or to nab potential video pirates (a thuggish-looking security guard stood to the side spying on the crowd with infrared goggles, looking like a futuristic pirate himself). When the sound and image stopped, it seemed very likely that the whole audience might just stand up and put on the show itself. (Many involved had to leave the screening and head straight for the Mandalay Bay for the 7:30 p.m. curtain time.)
More thoughts on the movie "Mamma Mia!" in Friday's Las Vegas Sun. (Hint: It's the "Grease" of the new millennium -- make that "Greece," which is where the silly story is set and most of the movie was filmed.) Till then, read this.