There's more blue blood than red spandex or orange hair on the streets outside and in the aisles at the Royal Alexandra Theatre for opening night of Mamma Mia!, a package of immensely catchy ABBA songs hung on a very unimportant storyline.
It's date night for the upper crust. As the chosen couples file in before the hot-ticket show, they can evaluate their social standing on the basis of their seat assignments.
Bashful billionaire Media moguls Ken Thomson and Paul Godfrey and their wives are parked at opposite ends of the third row, the bashful billionaire Thomson easy to spot because of Mrs. T's especially majestic, frozen plume of unmoving hair. Those with the toniest tickets make a great show of fumbling with their coats, scanning the room to drink in who's parked behind them but only briefly stealing a glance at those somehow seated ahead.
For some, the show reminds them of that damn racket their kids used to play. For others it resurrects a chance-taking summer in Europe long ago. (See review, page 149.) But they've all got Voulez Vous on their lips when they head to a post-play party at the Courthouse club.
A rush of wind precedes Mike Harris as he bounces down the stairs and into the bustling room, conspicuously single. He has a goofy, hopefully confident, somewhat uneasy spring in his step that says, "Here I am and I'm not lonely -- I'm just looking."
In a setting where a spouse is at least as important as a tie, Harris is a little off, overcompensating to show he's in control.
He makes his way through the room grabbing women around the waist and bear-hugging men. He delivers himself at Ken Thomson's table, swamping the stiff man and the stiff-haired woman in an awkward embrace. Attempting to be affable, Thomson gives a slight smile that seems to tear at his face. Harris gropes, unnoticing, grabbing any and all to pose for pictures.
Poison premier I wrestle with my conscience but can't think of an appropriate response to his proximity as I dodge the swinging arms of the poison premier on his social bump and grind through the crisp-suited crowd.
Maybe I should offer him a glass of water?
Mamma Mia! melee