MAMMA MIA! (2018)
MAMMA MIA! Capitol Theatre, 15 February-5 May 2018.
BY FELICITY DAYHEW - youth reviewer
Imagine the stunning scenery of an island with white, Greek stone houses covering the landscape. Twenty-one year old Sophie Sheridan (Sarah Morrison) is getting married, and is ecstatic to be inviting all her close friends and family. But there’s one problem; she has no idea who her father is. Her single mother, Donna (Natalie O’Donnell), always avoided the subject of her other parent, however Sophie does some snooping and finds out that there are not one, but three men who could possibly be her father, Bill Austin (Josef Ber), Harry Bright (Phillip Lowe), and Sam Carmichael (Ian Stenlake).
So, Sophie does what any normal person would do: invites all three of them to her wedding without telling her mother! The trio arrives, all reminiscing about the last time they saw Donna, which coincidently happens to be twenty-one years ago. Sophie now must make sure her mother doesn’t find out they’re here, figure out which one is her father, and prepare for a wedding within the space of a day. Easy, right?
Mamma Mia’s first ever production was in 1999, in London. It was the brainchild of Judy Craymer, who produced it alongside Gary Goetzman. Craymer commissioned Catherine Johnson to write the book for the musical. A few years before in 1983, Craymer met with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and although they were not very enthusiastic about the idea, they were not completely opposed.
In 1998, Phyllida Lloyd became the director for the show. Since then Mamma Mia! has played in more than 50 countries, and in 22 different languages. In 2008, it was adapted into a film, and was again directed by Lloyd, starring Meryl Streep, Stellen Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan Julie Walters and Amanda Seyfried.
The setting of Mamma Mia! is a small island in Greece. I really liked the way the set had been put together, using the same background throughout the performance, adding other pieces of set to differentiate between scenes; outdoor, indoor, by the water, next to the hotel, etc. The lighting did feel a bit harsh and blinding at times, but overall it helped change and enhance the mood throughout the show.
The music, as always, is the best part of the production. The well-known ABBA songs make you want to jump out of your seat and join in. There were multiple moments when I felt bombarded by sound and it was a bit deafening, but the catchy and feel-good melodies made up for it.
I think that the cast has been well put together. Natalie O’Donnell (Donna) and Jayde Westaby (Tanya) were my favourites. I loved the way Jayde Westaby brought Tanya to life, especially during the ‘Does Your Mother Know’ sequence. I also really enjoyed Natalie O’Donnell’s portrayal of Donna and thought that her voice was incredible.
Walking into this, I was not one hundred percent sure what to think, considering I hadn’t seen the production ever, and the last time I saw the movie was years ago. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I felt very connected to the story, immersed in Sophie and Donna’s world. However, I did think that Sky (Stephen Mahy) and Sophie’s relationship felt a little forced and it was hard to sympathise with the two. There wasn’t enough time or interaction between them to really feel their connection.
Overall, Mamma Mia! is a wonderful show with some of the best music out there. Its colourful and heart-warming storyline never fails to put a smile on everyone’s face. I would recommend it to any and all, because there’s something in it for everyone.