I have to confess I am not an ABBA fan. I grew up listening to Bowie, The Clash and The Stranglers. Neither am I keen on the jukebox musical with paper thin, vacuous plot lines moulded loosely around songs that already exist. I’ve only seen the film version of Mamma Mia! from afar as my daughters played it repetitively on the DVD player as they were growing up. I was never tempted to watch it in full. So …
On a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding — one which includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn’t know who he is! Her mother Donna, the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking a peek in her mother’s old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers: Sam, Bill, and Harry. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought!
Classic themes of growing old, bringing up children, keeping in touch with past friends and reconciling relationships are strung together using some of the most commercially successful songs in pop-music history which effectively draws even the most cynical reviewer in.
The result is magical. Played out in front of a revolving Greek hotel with white walls, an ocean blue backdrop and primary coloured costumes, Catherine Johnson’s witty script proves that ABBA’s legendary back catalogue lends itself perfectly to musical theatre and the tracks are no more incongruous than those in a musical with original songs.
The highlight of this show is the truly amazing cast. The three ‘Dads’ are exceptional with Richard Trinder as Sam, Stephen Beckett as Bill and Neil Moors as Harry all adorable in their own sweet way. Trinder has a wonderful singing voice, Beckett demonstrates immaculate comic timing (and a terrific Australian accent) and Moors is suitably ‘nerdish’. Emma Mullen is a delightful Sophie and Natalie Langston as Donna effortlessly belts out one iconic chart hit after another.
Mamma Mia! Would I go again? Definitely.
Reviewer: Patric Kearns