Warning: This mom/theatre reviewer/law professor/Abba lover may be about to commit blasphemy. Continue reading at your own risk.
Last night, my 13-year-old daughter and I went to see the national touring company production of "Mamma Mia!" at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Actually, I should say that she is my almost 13-year-old daughter. She'll become a monster teen on Saturday.
And knowing that Friday is my last official day of being a mom to a little kid, I discovered a secret that has been kept from the American public lo these many years.
Mamma Mia! has a soul.
It is not all camp.
It is not all fun.
It is not all song and dance and toilet paper microphones.
It is actually a serious exposition of the heartbreak that occurs when a little girl grows up... and her mom just has to let her.
"Slipping through my fingers all the time, I try to capture every minute.
The feeling in it.
Slipping through my fingers all the time.
Do I really see what's in her mind?
Each time I think I'm close to knowing, she keeps on growing.
Slipping through my fingers all the time."
Now, I should let you know that I was recovering from the flu -- the scourge that has ravaged Colorado and left weeping mothers in its wake -- as I sat in my seat and watched this mom (played with fun, determination and compassion by knock-'em-dead Georgia Kate Haege) struggle to let her beautiful, beloved daughter (made even more wistful by sweet-voiced and sweet-faced Chelsea Williams) make her own difficult life decisions. Like whether she should get married at 20. Whether she should search for her father. Whether she should wear spandex before breakfast.
But still, flu-induced or no, my tears flowed.
Sure, I stomped my feet to "Money, Money, Money." Who could possibly restrain herself?
I giggled when the hunky Greek pool boys danced in their snorkels and flippers. I clapped and hooted for more.
I cheered when Donna and the Dynamos pulled out their hairdryers and feather boas to put on an impromptu show. It was impossible to sit still.
But through it all, I was aware of my little -- make that big -- girl sitting there beside me.
Having her own experience. Singing along to the songs she liked. Clapping at the performers she admired.
When the show was over, my little one started the standing ovation. She never looked once to me to see whether I was going to stand. And applaud. And dance.
I did, of course. Because the magic of "Mamma Mia!" is that the show turns even the most uncoordinated of us into dancing queens.
But watching my little one grow into a Broadway fan in her own right? That was me, finally facing my Waterloo.
My only suggestion for this production of "Mamma Mia!"? Instead of starting the production with the standard warning ("For those with nervous dispositions, this show involves platform boots and spandex."), caution all the Donna Sheridans out there.
"Warning: You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll dance. And you'll be forced -- forced, I tell you -- to let your baby go."
"Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time."
Happy birthday, my beautiful girl. May your adult life be full of laughter, song, and dance.
And as you cross the stream into deciding your own future, just take this one tiny piece of advice from your mama: Skip the platform boots.