MusicalReviewSouth West

Mamma Mia! – Bristol Hippodrome

Composers and Lyricists:Benny Andersson &Björn Ulvaeus
Writer:Catherine Johnson

Director:Phyllida Lloyd
Musical Supervisor:Martin Koch
Choreographer:Anthony Van Laast
Reviewer: Bethany Steer

 

As overwhelmingly cheesy as a gooey melted Camembert, and just as delicious, Mamma Mia! kicked off its UK tour this week in Bristol.

The musical stage production tells the story of a young girl’s quest to find her true father, set to a roaring medley of greatest hits by 1970s pop sensation ABBA.

Set on a Greek island, the story follows Sophie (Lucy May Barker) and her mother Donna (Sara Poyzer) in the build up to Sophie’s wedding, at which she is ‘just desperate’ to have her unknown biological father give her away.

Reading her mother’s diary and identifying not one, not two, but three possible paternal candidates, Sophie writes to all three and invites them to her wedding – to her mother’s horror, and the hilarity of her mother’s age-old friends.

As Sophie, Barker gives an impressive vocal, singing powerfully and clearly yet using the lyrics to capitalise on the twee (and a little needy) nature of her character.

Poyzer, too, has a great voice – particularly apparent in her impassioned rendition of The Winner Takes It All.

The three possible dads Harry (Tim Walton), Bill (Christopher Hollis) and Sam (Richard Standing), each with their own distinct stereotype, give strong performances, injecting their lines and lyrics with tongue in cheek humour.

The stars of the show are Donna’s two friends, Tanya (Emma Clifford) and Rosie (Braun), whose hilarious attempts to get their friend laughing in the face of mortification only go to demonstrate the unchanging power of female friendship over time.

The staging is clever – with essentially two blocks rotated and transformed from taverna to bedroom to nightclub – and the lighting works well alongside it.

The ensemble is extremely talented – executing some eye-watering dance moves in ridiculously high heeled shoes – and Anthony Van Laast’s choreography is dynamic, consistently surprising and interesting to watch.

The fantastic soundtrack and vocal performances – what the show is really about – are far superior to some of the dialogue scenes, which often act as (sometimes tenuous) links into the next jazzy number.

A great performance and a whole lot of fun, heralding every single audience member to their feet for the finale, Mamma Mia! is a fab night out – albeit one that comes with a health warning: for those of a nervous disposition, white Lycra and platform boots feature heavily.

Runs until 7 May 2016 then touring | Image:Brinkhoff Mögenburg

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