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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin' at Act II Stages

Gary R. Beck - Beck's Best
January 6, 2016

The historical music of the Mamas and the Papas was presented by four singers: Jenny Allen, Stephanie Wright Watts, Joseph Dane and Elviz Martinez. Don Pope and Rhonda Podmos, who served as the group's vocal director and conductor, supplied background vocals. On drums and electric guitar were Jesus Estrada and Roberto Falcon. The singers executed four-part harmony with each taking a line or two, just as in the original song recordings. This quartet was phenomenal, resurrecting the smooth, rich and sweet but strong vocals of the renowned members.

An interesting occurrence was that when the show started, singers Peter, Paul and Mary sang "I Dig Rock and Roll Music" whose lyrics pay homage to the Mamas and the Papas. Then the famous quartet appeared singing "California Dreamin'" the theme of tonight's show. Right from that startup selection, we knew this was a polished group of singers and musicians. A special evening lie ahead.

"Monday, Monday" continued the stroll down Memory Lane. The artists sang it absolutely beautifully. Part of the show is narrative and in this first portion, it was stated although all the members except John were leery of releasing it as the second single, maybe signaling the end of their short career, the tune turned into its top recording. Their voices melded into a luxurious atmosphere permeating the theater. Voices flowed from one lead singer to the next, with the others supplying wondrous complimentary intonations. A rousing "I Saw Her Again" exuded fun energy from the crowd. The stars controlled the night and we were all thrilled to be on their journey.

After slowing to the soft notes of "Dedicated to the One I Love" sung effortlessly with arranged vocals, the rhythmic beat stepped up with "Go Where You Wanna Go". Two autobiographical numbers were performed respectfully and grandly: "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)" and "Creeque Alley". Rhonda supplied terrific vocals backing the leads. She employed her electric piano and organ, directing the flow of the show.

The show includes solos by Mamas Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot (standout: "Dream a Little Dream of Me") revealing details of their lives, some rather unpleasant but true. The Papas are John Phillips and Denny Doherty. The group transferred folk to the early 1960's beat sound. They performed and recorded only from 1965-1968 but became huge worldwide and left an unmatched song style which will last forever. This fine group masters the difficult blending of voices. We heard the real thing. For the lovers of fond music which shaped your lives.

California Dreamin' will be performed on the Main Stage of Act II Entertainment every Monday and Wednesday at 7:00 pm through January 27, 2016.

Tickets are available at Act II Entertainment Box Office which opens daily at 11:00 am, telephone is (322) 222-1512. You may also purchase tickets online at Vallarta Tickets.

Act II Stages is located upstairs on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes in Old Town Vallarta.

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