THE MAGIC THAT IS ABBA
Mamma Mia didn’t have a red carpet on its first night – it had a blue one. But red or blue this first night was one of the most exciting the Grand Theatre had seen for some time.
The music of ABBA saturated the 70s with some of the finest songs ever written so its hardly surprising that a musical based on their hits has become a global phenomenon
Mamma Mia is not just another juke-box musical, it’s a cleverly constructed work where the songs are relative and meaningful to the plot and help move the narrative along instead of just being placed there purely for the sake of it.
It’s a heart warming tale of female friendships, love and identity set on a Greek island. It tells of Sophie’s quest to discover the father she’s never known bringing her mother face to face with three ex-boyfriends on the eve of a wedding they will never forget.
Phyllida Lloyd’s production is upbeat, fast and furious yet, at the same time, has some wonderfully poignant moments skilfully coupled with slick and well-timed comedic interludes.
Mamma Mia is bouncy and has a strong feel good factor that is as bright as the Greek islands sky. The set is simple and minimalistic. Artistically lit its on a revolve, that is speedily moved at a great rate of knots adding even more excitement and energy to the production.
The producers of Mamma Mia have more than got it right with the casting of this musical. Helen Hobson (Donna), Gillian Hardie (Rosie), Emma Clifford (Tanya) are outstanding.
They really do bond as a team on stage and each has got their characterizations right. I particularly loved Donna’s powerful Winner Takes All that was full of pure emotion whilst Rosie and Tanya’s energetic Chiquitita was the epitome of good comedy timing
Opening a show with a solo is no easy task but right from the first note Lucy May Baker (Sophie) captured the beautiful innocence and youth of the role in both vocals and her characterization.
As Donna’s three ex-lovers there was just the right contrast between each one. I particularly liked Christopher Hollis’s portrayal as the brash Aussie, Bill Austin whilst Jamie Hogarth’s Harry Bright and Jon Boydon’s Sam Carmichael ticked every box.
Mamma Mia is ABBA magic on tap. With hits such as ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Chiquitita’ it’s the kind of musical where you have to stop yourself from singing along to every song knowing you will get the chance to sing and dance in the aisles at the end of the show.
Runs until 8th July
Review by Liz Coggins who is a member of The Critics Circle