Book: Catherine Johnson
Music and Lyric by: Benny Andersson and Björn Ulveus
Additional songs by: Stig Anderson
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Reviwer: Matthew Forrest
There seems to be a buzz in the air at the Palace Theatre tonight: maybe it’s the gorgeous sunshine, maybe it’s the fact England are doing so well in the World Cup or maybe it’s because Mamma Mia! the record-breaking musical has hit town. With the show coming up on its 20-year anniversary and having spawned a cinematic version and later this month a sequel, this is no stopping this ever-popular franchise.
Under the guidance of Abba maestros Benny Andersson and Björn Ulveus this is the tale of Sophie, a young woman living with her Mum, Donna, on a Greek Island. Sophie is about to get married to her fiancé, Sky. However, there is one person missing that being her Dad. By reading her Mum’s diary she manages to deduce that potentially it could be one of three men, Harry, Bill or Sam. As wedding preparations get underway and tensions rise will Sophie find out who her biological father is in time to walk her down the aisle? Will the wedding even go ahead at all?
It must be a blessing and a curse to have so many classic Abba tunes to cram into show: songs such as Money, Money Money, and Chiquititaare belted out at regular intervals, each one greeted with impromptu clapping and singing from the audience, there was one moment reminiscent of a scene fromPeter Kay’s Phoenix Nights where the music and the cast stop singing, and the audience carried on! It’s exceedingly clever how most of the songs enhance the plot, with only the odd one or two shoe-horned in.
Because the songs are so familiar the cast and the band have the unenviable task of making them sound unique and original. Songs like, Take a Chance on Me and The Winner Takes It All, work tremendously well in the context of the plot, some do come off a bit karaoke which is a shame.
This is a spritely, energetic production, filled with vibrance and colour. The cast seem to be having a ball with Lucy May Barker putting in a solid turn as Sophie. Shona White is equally as good as Donna, whilst Nicky Swift and Helen Anker, as Donna’s best friends Rosie and Tanya have a tremendous amount of fun with their roles.
The ensemble cast work their socks of throughout with plenty of high octane routines expertly choreographed by Anthony Van Laast and Nicola Treherne exemplified in numbers such as Under Attack, Gimme! Gimmie! Gimme! and the highly impressive Voulez- Vous.
Mamma Mia! Does have its flaws but it’s a frothy, fun-filled night out more than suitable accompaniment for this glorious summer we’re having. By the end I guarantee you’ll be up in the aisle celebrating Napoleon’s glorious surrender!
Runs until 14 July 2018 | Image: Brinkhoff MÂgenburg