With the sequel planned to hit our screens this summer, what’s better than spending your Wednesday evening seeing Mamma Mia!? Not much! As an avid fan of ABBA, the musical and the film, it’s hard not to have high expectations. Whilst the musical is STILL touring nationally and internationally since 1999, it’s fair to say Mamma Mia is undoubtedly one of the best musicals out there. Writer Catherine Johnson has cleverly woven in Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ superb music and lyrics into the narrative, rather than sticking them erratically throughout the narrative, as some musicals do, and it’s a delight to see the story unfold every time.
As many will know, set on a Greek Island, where Donna and daughter Sophie Sheridan live, the island are preparing for Sophie and Sky’s wedding. After 20 years of not knowing who her father is, Sophie finds her mother’s diary and invites, not one, but three potential men who were in Donna’s life around the time she was conceived: Sam Carmichael, Bill Austin and Harry Bright. It’s their arrival on the eve of Sophie’s wedding that shakes Donna and the wedding.
It can be a tough job taking on a role many others have before, especially after hitting the Big Screen. Lucy May Barker made Sophie her own, her vocals were beautifully strong, she was natural and didn’t try to live up to Amanda Seyfried’s hopeless romantic Sophie. While it was original, at times Sophie seemed to lack character depth. I adored Helen Hobson as Donna, she was genuine and caring. Her tear-jerker ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ were sincere and heartfelt.
Donna’s two hilarious best friends, Tanya (Emma Clifford) and Rosie (Gillian Hardie), were effortlessly fantastic. Hardie’s wackiness and Clifford’s chic way of life were shown in their harmonising endeavours to lift Hobson’s spirits. As polar opposites, they were perfectly entertaining to watch throughout. There was a brilliant array of personalities from potential fathers, Jon Boydon (Sam), Christopher Hollis (Bill) and Jamie Hogarth (Harry). And it wouldn’t have been Mamma Mia! without the ensemble’s choreography (Anthony Van Laast) and support; their energy bought the show to life.
One of the best scenes included Tanya and Pepper’s number ‘Does Your Mother Know’. Louis Stockil as the irrepressible Pepper was a comical buzz of energy every time he hit the stage, striking us with an exceptionally athletic performance during this song.
The aesthetics of the musical were wonderful; a simple set that bought the island to life. I could not take my eyes of some of the marvellous costumes worn! The tremendous metallic 70’s suits worn in ‘Super Trooper’ have to be the winner here. Where can I buy one?! Barker’s wedding dress was picturesque, and one of the only costumes she didn’t fiddle with.
If you have an evening free (and can still get a ticket), go and see Mamma Mia! If you don’t have an evening free… GO AND SEE MAMMA MIA! The Royal and Derngate audience were bustling with enjoyment as we all stood to sing and dance to the last few numbers. I’ve had ABBA on repeat all morning. - Holly Kellingray