Kitted out in platform boots and a particularly garish-printed, multi-coloured mini-dress, I collected my boyfriend’s mama on the way to the Regent Theatre on Wednesday the 19th of April, for the opening night of Mamma Mia!.
Brownie points doesn’t even begin to cut it; my boyfriend’s lovely mother adores trips to the theatre, and adores the musical stylings of ABBA even more, so I knew that she’d be game for a bit of a boogie, being the Dancing Queen that she is and all (see what I did there?).
For anyone that somehow missed the Hollywood film version of Mamma Mia! which was released back in 2008, I will break down the storyline for you. The musical depicts the story of Sophie’s wedding plans on the beautiful Greek island where she was raised by her single mother, Donna (Helen Hobson). In a bid to identify who her ‘sperm donor’ father is, Sophie (Lucy May Barker) commits the cardinal sin of reading her mom’s old diaries from the year of her birth. Imagine her shock when she finds that her father could be any one of three men, all of which seduced Donna during the same summer! Sophie invites Bill (Christopher Hollis), Sam (Alex Bourne) and Harry (Jamie Hogarth) to her wedding in the hope that she will know her dad when she sees him. Needless to say, this doesn’t really happen, cue the hilarious antics of this feel-good spectacular!
The strong storyline obviously isn’t the only thing worth catching this show for; ABBA classics such as Honey Honey, Money Money Money and Chiquitita make Mamma Mia! one of the sorts of shows where you are convinced you are experiencing some kind of earthquake due to all of the tapping feet, humming sounds and chair-bounce-dancing. The orchestra ABBA-solutely nailed it, and the percussionist (the only instrumentalist that is clearly visible from the pit) seemed to be having as much fun grooving along, if not, even more (!) than the audience.
The songs were perfectly matched to the plot of the show and from the first soft note of I Have A Dream, through to the belting cover of The Winner Takes It All, I was immensely impressed to feel that Barker and Hobson have nothing to envy from Amanda Seyfried and the legend that is Meryl Streep who played the leading roles in the film version.
I will say, that I found the younger cast (bar Barker!) to be overacting throughout, and also I didn’t find the character of Sam to be very likeable… this being said, I am not sure if that was Bourne’s fault or if a little tweaking to his script might be appropriate. However, the expertly executed group choreography for larger tracks such as Voulez-Vous and Gimme Gimme Gimme certainly made up for any short-comings.
And how could I finish this review without honouring the show-stopping duo Rosie (Gillian Hardie) and Tanya (Emma Clifford) who played the roles of Donna’s best friends ‘The Dynamos’ to perfection. This pair had us in stitches right the way through, and Mamma Mia! just wouldn’t be the same without their songs Take A Chance on Me and Does Your Mama Know ? I will also admit to huge costume-envy when they took to the stage caked in sequined flares and chunky platforms in Super Trooper.
I would completely recommend going to see Mamma Mia! at the Regent Theatre, if only to dance your butt off in the final two tracks (Dancing Queen and Waterloo)… You will leave with the songs in your head, a shimmy in your step and a smile on your face which won’t budge for at least 24 hours afterwards!