Mamma Mia!

MAMMA MIA! UK Tour 2016 - 2017 Cast. Photos by BrinkhoffM+Âgenburg (6)

The Mamma Mia! ensemble is pictured in action on stage during the 2017 UK theatre tour.

 

Mamma Mia! Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre (Wednesday 2nd August)

Thank you for the music Bjorn and Benny! Thank you too writer Catherine Johnson for reimagining the narrative of Abba’s songs for this ultimate feel-good musical. Nearly 20 years after it first took the West End stage by storm Mamma Mia! is still a blockbuster show that offers a heady mix of music, nostalgia and theatrical sunshine. No wonder there have been 50 productions worldwide seen (so far)  by more than 60 million people.

It’s a great show transporting the audience to an idyllic Greek Island where 20-year-old Sophie is planning her wedding. Her single mum, Donna, is an expat American who owns the local taverna and is determined to make it an occasion to be remembered.  But for Sophie one vital ingredient is missing - her dad. The trouble is that no-one, not even Donna, knows who he is.

Finding her mum’s old diaries Sophie discovers there are three possible candidates and she secretly invites them all to her wedding. Romance, fun and gentle chaos ensue in a story that weaves the big Abba hits into the storyline. Dancing Queen, Voulez-Vous, S.O.S., Money, Money Money, Thank You For the Music and, of course, Mamma Mia! do their work in style.

There’s a strong cast, great dancers, a clever set and a wonderful twist in the tail. Lucy May Barker is the questing Sophie while Helen Hobson plays her proud and determined mum. The wonderful trio of maybe dads include Jon Boydon as Sam, an architect who left after a summer of love 21 years ago and  Christopher Hollis and Jamie Hogarth as Bill and Harry who offered comfort on the rebound. 

Special mention should also be made of Gillian Hardie and Emma Clifford as Rosie and Tanya, Donna’s bandmates from her crazy days as a singer.

After the best part of two decades as a hit show it is no surprise that Mamma Mia! delivers everything that it promises but it’s still grragt watching this clever little  story unfold with some impressively designed and choreographed set pieces. I particularly liked the eve of wedding sleepwalking/dream sequence.

It’s also worth remebering that it has succeeded in playing a significant role in the reinvention  of its primary source. I guess I was in the minority in the Pavilion audence last night in being old enough to remember  Abba from the 1970s when, though very successful, they weren’t anything like as famous as they are now. 

Back then I would choose Dylan or Van Morrison any day over the sparkly Swedish Supertroupers. I still do but what I’ve learnt is that those Abba songs are brilliant examples of the pop genre. Beautifully structured and arranged.

Mamma Mia! is perfect summer entertainment. Fun musical theatre and a must for anyone who loves the music of Abba. It plays Bournemouth Pavilion until Saturday 12th August

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2017