Review by Charlotte Seales
Let’s face it, the idea of sitting through a musical based on over twenty-seven Abba songs could be, for some of us, a form of Japanese torture, for others, an eagerly anticipated night of frivolous fun, happily overdosing on all the great classics.
The main problem with Mamma Mia! lies in deciding on a plot which can be successfully merged with obscurely titled songs such as “Chiquitita”, “Voulez-vous” and “Mamma Mia.” The writer, Catherine Johnson, opts for the typical cliched story about a girl’s search for identity, self discovery and the difficulty of relationships. The story is straightforward. Sophie, a bride to-be, has invited three men, any of whom could be her long lost father to her wedding on a quiet, Greek island. Two of Sophie’s mother’s friends arrive, Tanya and Rosie. These two characters contribute a great deal of humour to the play. Tanya is a glamorous, nymphomaniac “Abs Fabs” Patsy-esque character who towers over Rosie, the archetypal dumpy yet aimable middle-aged woman, like a giant. They add much colour to “Mamma Mia” and their “Dancing Queen” scene involving Sophie’s mother Donna is great. Hairbrush in hand, the trio sing and dance along to their favourite teenage anthem in a natural, spontaneous manner.
Concerning the choreography in general, the upbeat, energetic performances to “Money, Money,Money” and “Does your mother know” were excellent. More of these and less of the mediocre duets were needed. It seemed as though all the classic Abba songs were crammed into the first half, causing the second part to be slow paced and too static. Nevertheless, a nice alternative to costume was provided by the wetsuit and flipper clad backing dancers in some of the songs, rather fitting to the Greek island setting.
The set design, consisting of two curved walls representing a taverna, allowed fluid change of scene. However, its minimalism was taken a bit to the extreme, the taverna looked more derelict than idyllic, too much was left to the imagination.
Despite these few disappointments “Mamma Mia” redeems itself with its witty dialogue, a combination of double entendre and funny banter. Siobhan McCarthy’s role as the single mother Donna is brilliant, unfortunately casting quite a shadow on Lisa Stokke’s debut in the West End as Sophie.
Although Abba will always be remembered for their electric turquoise blue lycra outfits and white platform boots rather than for an array of songs with deeply moving and thought provoking lyrics, their genre of music is ideal and a real crowd-pleaser for this West End production of Mamma Mia! now playing at the Novello Theatre.
Ticket Prices: From £15.00
A £2.25 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked online, and a £2.75 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked by phone. No booking fee on tickets purchased in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office.
All prices include £1.25 restoration levy.
Early Bird Pricing – anyone booking four months or more in advance of the performance they are attending (Monday to Thursday performances only) will save £20 on Band A and Premium tickets, but only through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, either online, in person at the theatre, or by calling the Novello Theatre Box Office.
Monday - Saturday 7.45pm
Matinees - Thursday & Saturday 3.00pm*
*extra Tuesday matinees 7 & 21 August 2018
Currently booking to 2 March 2019
Running time 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)
Box Office: 0844 482 5115
London, WC2B 4LD
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0844 482 5115
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CAST CHANGES from 11 June 2018
Joining Sara Poyzer as Donna, Kate Graham as Tanya, Richard Trinder as Sam and Damian Buhagiar as Pepper, will be Ricky Butt as Rosie, Neil Moors as Harry, Stephen Beckett as Bill, Georgia Louise as Sophie, Alec Porter as Sky, Charlotte O’Rourke as Ali, Leah St Luce as Lisa and Eamonn Cox as Eddie. Caroline Deverill continues to play the role of Donna Sheridan at certain performances.