Okay, I have to admit it– I hate Abba tribute acts and dare I say it, I completely hated the film version of Mamma Mia when I watched it several years ago. With this in mind you would be forgiven for wondering why I was sat in a theatre auditorium last night to watch the musical take to the stage for the second time in the last year. The reason? The stage show is hands down some of the best, feel-good theatre on the circuit.
For those that have no idea of the story, it is set on a Greek Island and starts the day before the wedding of Sophie (Lucy May Barker) to Sky (Phillip Ryan). But amidst the idyllic backdrop lies a deeper story of one girl’s quest to find out who her father is and her mother’s attempts to not drag up the past. Thrown into the mix three possible fathers and two old friends who want to re-live their youth and what ensues is a show full of humour, touching moments and yes you’ve guessed it – 27 of Abba’s hits records interwoven in the story.
As you sit enjoying the show you’ll be hard pushed not to want to start singing along or even dancing in your seat as many around me did! Talking of dancing, the chorography for this show is amongst the slickest I have seen in years; even the scene changes are choreographed giving a great fluidity to the piece.
The cast of 25 bring bundles of charm to this piece making it the perfect show to do away with the winter blues. At the centre is Helen Hobson who plays Donna, the mother to Sophie. Faced with the three possible fathers to her child all rocking up at her Greek Taverna, she remembers the good times and bad, with her two friends Rosie (Gillian Hardie) and Tanya (Emma Clifford) by her side. I loved the humour in the show, particularly in act two where Tanya is wooed by Pepper (Louis Stockil) in a hilarious rendition of ‘Does Your Mother Know’ – packed with male testosterone and feminine charm. Hardie also gets her moment in the spotlight as she declares her love for Bill (Christopher Hollis) as more hilarity ensues in the song ‘Take a Chance on me’.
It’s hard to pick out a star of the show; everyone genuinely plays his or her part right down to the ensemble and the live band. It’s refreshing to see three strong and mature women featuring at the helm of a story and even more so it’s refreshing to see a show that makes you beam from start to finish.
Now, I best find my ‘Money, Money, Money’ and get to the Royal & Derngate box office and beg them to ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ another ticket to see this show before they sell out and the chance goes ‘Slipping through my fingers’.
Mamma Mia is performed at the Royal & Derngate Theatre until Saturday 3 February 2018. Tickets can be purchased online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk