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MAMMA MIA! - Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 4th May 2017 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed 3rd May 2017

MAMMA MIA! poster

Oh, what a delightfully uplifting evening! The Milton Keynes audience collectively skipped out into the cold night, warm and energised by the Greek sun and sing-a-long finale! Truly an international stage phenomenon; running in the West End for almost twenty years, and a film adaptation which is still the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film, MAMMA MIA! is cross-generational and resonates on a number of levels. This touring production is just wonderful and well worth a visit if you can get a ticket; MK was jam-packed last night with an enthusiastic, vocal and appreciative audience.

Judy Craymer creator/producer has said it was difficult to convince people initially that the play was to be an original story using ABBA songs and not the story of the band itself.  Incredibly, this particular play is so established that it is seems hard to imagine there was ever any doubt. Strikingly female-centric with the respective love lives of mother and daughter on show, it is also a story of a mother’s love for her daughter and the poignancy of that relationship. Craymer states that she noticed the songs by ABBA’s writers Bjőrn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson ‘fell into two generations: younger more playful songs such as ‘Honey, Honey’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ and more mature, emotional songs such as ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ – the latter in the style of story-telling, conversational songs that can be interpreted as between two people or the dialogue of inner turmoil. They might be ‘pop’ songs but there is so much more to them and this is what creates the synergy between the story, the songs and the performances in this production; credible, honest actors here tell stories through poignant and meaningful lyrics. There is an integrity at the heart of this show and ABBA’s music is universally loved, as evident both on stage and in the auditorium last night.

MAMMA MIA - Donna, Tanya, Rosie

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

A strong cohesive cast, led by Donna (Helen Hobson) and Sophie (Lucy May Barker), are obviously having a blast every night and are spot on with dramatic and comic timing. Hobson is sexy as hell and Barker is charming. Both have strong voices and a lovely on stage chemistry – believable as mother and daughter. Their performance of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ was emotional and touching. 

MAMMA MIA! boys

 Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Sophie’s ‘fathers’, Harry (James Hogarth), Bill (Christopher Hollis), and Sam (Jon Boydon’ are perfect. Donna’s ‘girl group’ friends Tanya (Emma Clifford) and Rosie (Gillian Hardie) are a complete hoot. Their rendition of ‘Chiquitita’ created guffaws and snorts from the stalls and ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ and ‘Take a Chance on Me’ were laugh out loud funny; reminiscent of ridiculous elements of French and Saunders in their prime.

MAMMA MIA! Hobson and Barker

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

The ensemble, a young and very dynamic group, are strong of voice, exceptionally fine of figure – particularly the young men(!) and exuberant from start to finish. Setting and staging is straightforward and refreshingly uncomplicated, costumes a combination of flippers, flares, sequins and sandals, choreography (Anthony Van Laast) cheeky and superbly executed and the live band led by Richard Weedon are superlative. 

MAMMA MIA! stags

Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

All in all, a perfect night out!

 

MAMMA MIA! is at MK Theatre until Saturday 20th May

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 (bkg fee)

Groups Hotline: 01908 547609

Access Booking: 0844 872 7677

Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes (bkg fee)

 

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