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MAMMA MIA! @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 29th Jun 2018 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

MAMMA MIA!

With incredibly fortuitous timing, this delightful musical arrived in Aylesbury just as the sequel to the film MAMMA MIA! Here We Go Again is about to be released.  Judy Craymer had the ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise.  To date, it has been seen by more than 60 million people in 50 productions translated into 16 different languages. 

From West End to global phenomenon, the London production of MAMMA MIA! has now been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population.  It’s one of only five musicals to have run for more than 10 years both on Broadway and in the West End. In 2011 MAMMA MIA! became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.  The hugely successful International Tour, premiered in Dublin in September 2004 and has now visited 85 cities across 38 countries, selling more than 5 million tickets.

Its success has been extraordinary, buoyed by the release in 2008 of MAMMA MIA! The Movie, which became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time.

So just what has made this show so popular?  Of course it’s ABBA’s music and lyrics written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, which everyone knows and loves. When ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo, their catchy tunes, lyrics and outrageously flamboyant costumes assured them of worldwide success.  It’s warmth, familiarity and poptastic fun appeals to all ages and it was good to see some young children in the audience, loving the songs and the story.  I remember my young niece watching the DVD of the film when it came out over and over again and singing the songs in the car. 

Quite often if people try to write a storyline around the lyrics of songs it can be clunky and jarring, but this story works as the characters are real and relatable.  The book is written by Catherine Johnson, who gives it a light touch creating some very lovable and funny characters.  Central protagonist, Donna Sheridan, is played by Shona White, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Meryl Streep and wins the audience around with her warmth and understanding of Donna’s dilemmas. Her side-kicks, Rosie and Tanya, both played with great verve and humour by Nicky Swift and Helen Anker, make up the dynamic trio performing Dancing Queen in the iconic costumes.

Lucy May Barker playing Donna’s daughter, Sophie has an absolutely pitch perfect voice, with great stage presence and she’s definitely someone to watch.

The choreography by Anthony Van Lasst was wonderful and I especially enjoyed the guys dancing in flippers!  If you’ve ever tried to walk in them (and I have) you’ll know how difficult it is, so this routine is joyous to watch.

The costumes are divine, the whole production is slick, full of energy and fun and the cast seemed to be having as much fun as the audience.  The theatre was packed to the rafters and I’m sure it will continue to be around the Globe.  It’s a real ‘feel-good’ night out, which lifts everyone up and leaves you singing and dancing all the way home.

For future tour details visit www.mammamia.com

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

26.6.18

@yvonnedelahaye

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