MAMMA Mia – here we go again. . . and again and again as far as I’m concerned!
Full disclosure – this is not my first visit to the world’s most famous fictional Greek taverna, so there were no surprises in store. But it was the first outside of the West End – and there were VERY high standards to maintain!
There’s good reason the smash hit musical marks its 23rd year in the UK, in fact 65 million of them – the number of people who have seen the show in more than 450 cities worldwide.
And for the next two weeks its Birmingham’s turn to delight audiences with producer Judy Craymer’s global phenomenon – a sunny, funny tale of a mother and daughter and three possible dads unfolding on a Greek island idyll.
Craymer’s MAMMA MIA! The Movie, also became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008 and MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time. How could it possible fail? (Despite Piece Brosnan’s vocal attempts to kill it!)
As a die-hard fan of ABBA’s music, any show that weaves its story around their back catalogue was not going to disappoint. But it’s important to say that this is so much more than a jukebox musical. Lashings of care have gone into the storyline and Mamma Mia stands on its own two feet as musical theatre of the highest calibre.
And, sometimes unusually for live theatre, touring versions away from the glitz of the West End, can lose a bit of their gloss. Not so here. This glitterball of a show shone bright from curtain up to lights down, skipping along, from one huge ABBA hit to the next with boundless energy.
It proves the perfect platform for Jena Pandya and Sara Poyzer, whose powerhouse performances as mother and daughter Sophie and Donna Sheridan are central to this show’s success. But they are more than ably supported by an ensemble of talented co-stars, including great comic performances by Helen Anker and Nicky Swift as Donna’s old friends Tanya and Rosie.
Fans of ABBA – or even just those affectionately familiar with their songs – will love every toe-tapping minute of this breathtaking rollercoaster ride through some of the iconic band’s MANY hits. It’s unashamedly saccharine and never sets out to be anything other than a feelgood cheese fest – but that’s exactly what last night’s sell-out audience demanded.
If you’re looking for Sondheim, stay away.
Mamma Mia is an effervescent celebration that had each and every one of us on our feet for the rousing finale. (It’s a physical impossibility to stay seated for Dancing Queen!)
So grab your lycra and platform boots and embrace your inner sequined soul, for this stunning romp of a show. I’ve paid to go and see it again next week!
Thank you for the Music – again!
It plays at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, May 14th with limited tickets available at: https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/