Mamma Mia!

"The perfect way to banish those January blues"

The tour de force that is Mamma Mia! is still entertaining packed out theatres across the country and it’s no real surprise, as this show has it all. It’s filled with humour, it’s completely camp and has probably one of best soundtracks in the shape of ABBA’s most famous hits, so it’s pretty hard not to love it!

The story centres around Sophie (Jess Michelmore) in her quest to discover who her father is.  She has three possible suitors, Harry Bright (Neal Craig), Bill Austin (Phil Corbitt) and Sam Carmichael (Richard Standing).  She proceeds to invite them all to her upcoming nuptials to Sky (Christopher Foley) at her family Taverna on an idyllic Greek island.  Of course it’s not as simple as that, her mother Donna (Sara Poyzer) has no idea that each of her previous flames is attending and there ensues a fun game of cat and mouse trying to avoid them.

Sara Poyzer as Donna provides an incredible vocal performance, especially during ‘The Winner Takes It All’, delivering on all levels and providing plenty of raw emotion.  In comparison, Jess Michelmore as Sophie leads many classic ABBA songs with such feeling and her voice is perfect for this particular genre of music.

If you’re familiar with the musical, or film version of Mamma Mia! you will know that back in her youth Donna was part of Donna & the Dynamos with best friends Tanya (Sarah Earnshaw) and Rosie (Nicky Swift).  Both roles contain a lot of humour with Tanya arriving in a power suit and high heels, oozing wealth and definite ‘cougar’ vibes, and Rosie being much more down to earth.  Swift and Earnshaw both have their moments to shine with ‘Take A Chance on Me’ and ‘Does Your Mother Know’ respectively, providing many a laugh throughout the auditorium.

The party vibe is scattered throughout the show with the ensemble cast delivering some wonderful dance numbers, including the very upbeat closing Act 1 number of ‘Voulez Vous’.  The choreography by Anthony Van Laast CBE still provides a massive amount of energy, something that could well have waned over the years, but it’s still as fresh and tight as ever.

The set, designed by Mark Thompson, remains minimal throughout, however with the addition of the lighting by Howard Harrison, you feel instantly transported to a sun-soaked island and can almost feel the heat radiating off the stage.

Outstanding performances came from Richard Standing (Sam Carmichael), Neal Craig (Harry Bright) and Phil Corbitt (Bill Austin).  Again, they each had their moment to shine and there was a clear comradery between the three as the story unfolds and they all realise their special connection. 

Of course, the ABBA soundtrack of this musical is iconic and it’s clear to see that their music is still loved by many during the curtain call when everyone is up out of their seat, dancing and singing along with the cast.  The costumes by Lucy Gaiger really do burst off the stage at this point, with platform heels and sparkly, vibrant jumpsuits worn by Donna, Tanya, Rosie and even the guys, Sam, Harry and Bill.  Such a fantastic ending to a wonderful show!

Mamma Mia! is and continues to be one of the most popular juke box musicals there is and with such energy and joy throughout the show, it’s a certain for continued longevity.

This production was reviewed on the 18th January 2023 at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre where the show runs until the 28th January 2023.  Tickets are available here: https://www.grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/mamma-mia/

Photo credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

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