Uber-ABBA and Mamma Mia! fan, MKFM’s Arts Correspondent Nancy Stevens went to see Mamma Mia! at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Mamma Mia! How can I resist you? I cannot, and I did not. It was ABBA-solutely fabulous!
MAMMA MIA! Set on a Greek island circa 1990s, with Sophie Sheridan preparing to marry Sky. Her mother, Donna, not overly enamoured, thinks that at 20, Sophie is too young. However, Donna harbours a secret - Sophie’s paternity may be one of three ex-lovers. Sophie has discovered Donna’s diary and invited all three potential papas to her wedding. Total chaos then ensues…
I had the privilege of interviewing the delightful Helen Hobson (Donna) before the show, and this is her second time playing Donna (the first being 2004). I asked if Meryl Streep’s portrayal in the film version had affected her performance, and she said, ‘that this was more about her relationship with The Dynamos who naturally had had a cast change, and that the dynamic had changed,’ but she loves this role and feels that she makes it her own. Having seen her play Donna originally pre-movie and now, I would agree. She has matured in the role and brings such warmth and vitality to a part that could be construed as bitter and cynical. Donna’s rendition of Money, Money, Money made it believable that she had really struggled for 20 years with a child, a leaky roof and a crippling mortgage. Slipping through my fingers, tells of her sorrow as Sophie leaves home to get married, and there was not a dry eye in the house.
I have history with Mamma Mia! Not only have I seen it seven times, but my claim to fame is that I have performed in a summarised version at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2007. This was indeed one of the best experiences of my life, and I know every action, every nuance, every word and every movement of the show. So no pressure there!
The show is an ABBA fan’s delight, with the unmistakable sounds of those instantly recognisable ABBA melodies, with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Everyone thinks ABBA is easy to sing - it is, in fact, one of the hardest sounds to replicate, such are the intricacies of the harmonies.
I also was fortunate enough to interview Phillip Ryan who plays Sky, Sophie’s fiancé. He too, brings a uniqueness to the role. Ryan stated, “At audition the producers asked me to audition in RP which I was happy to do, but I offered to speak in my native Scots accent to offer something different, and they loved it.” I had asked him, too, if he felt overwhelmed or emasculated in any way as strong female characters dominate the show and having seen him perform, it is a resounding “no”! He more than makes this role his own.
I loved the fragility of Sophie. The doe-eyed Lucy May Barker with her sweet soprano, made a lovely Sophie.
As with every production of the show, my favourite characters (as in the film too) are Tanya, the man-eating, thrice-married temptress who exudes sex appeal from every pore, and Emma Clifford, is no exception. If I am honest, this is the part I would love to play. Does your mother know? is just hilarious, when she pretends to ignore the over-amorous advances of the much younger Pepper, the astonishing, show-stealing Louis Stockil. His sublime dance skills, cockiness, swagger, and comic timing will undoubtedly make him a star of the future.
I also adored Gillian Hardie as Rosie, (played by Julie Walters in the film). Quite honestly, Hardie was just as funny, and her rendition of Take a chance on me while trying to seduce intrepid traveller, Harry Bright (Jamie Hogarth), had me in paroxysms of laughter.
The role of Bill (Chris Hollis) is the most likeable of the three male characters as the easy-going Aussie with a fear of commitment. Harry Bright (Jamie Hogarth) plays the buttoned-up ex-public schoolboy with the right amount of understatement and, if I closed my eyes for a second, could hear the strangulated upper- class vowels of Colin Firth. Sam Carmichael, Donna’s lost love (Jon Boydon) is not an obvious choice for a leading man, but every time he sang, I was relieved that I did not have to listen to Pierce Brosnan’s not terribly convincing voice. He was a more gentle Sam than I have seen before, but no less effective, and the chemistry between him and Donna was utterly believable. Sometimes, less is more.
The hits simply kept coming, and the energy levels did not ever wane. My favourite scene and song is Lay all your love on me. Try to imagine, if you will, a stag do with hunky chaps in scuba gear - dancing. Camp just does not quite cover it! There are too many songs to mention, but here are some of my absolute favourites: Mamma Mia, Super Trouper, Voulez-Vous, and, of course, S.O.S.
The costumes are true to the original show and every detail is faithfully replicated.
We have much to be grateful to the creator Judy Craymer’s tenacity for spending nearly ten years trying to persuade the two beardy blokes from ABBA to make a musical. With Catherine Johnson’s writing skills – they formed the Mamma Mia dream team, and have made more than 60 million people in more than 50 countries worldwide, thankful for the music.
There is nothing not to love about this utterly bright, optimistic and very colourful show, and if I could, I would turn right around on my platform-heeled boots and watch it for the eighth time. I am happy to say that Mamma Mia! firmly remains my favourite modern musical.
Be a Super Trouper - there will be no taking any chances as this is the most fun you will have in 150 minutes. It will be worth the Money, Money, Money, and YOU can dance, you can jive and YOU will have the time of YOUR life!
Mamma Mia! is on until 20 May at Milton Keynes Theatre
Sponsored Stories You May Like
Thames Valley Police tells MKFM there is no increase in knife crime compared to last year
The Commander for the Milton Keynes local policing area said: "Milton Keynes is a safe place to live and work."
30 patients currently being treated in Milton Keynes Hospital for coronavirus- according to latest data
The latest update tells us that 30 patients are being treated for COVID-19 at Milton Keynes Hospital, with 2 currently being treated on a ventilator bed.
The Parks Trust invites Milton Keynes residents to complete the John Muir Award in local green space
This summer, The Parks Trust has teamed up with Walton Community Council to run an exciting nature-based activity programme where families and individuals can complete the John Muir Award.
Tonight from 7pm: Local Police Commander tells MKFM how police demand has shifted considerably
Tune into MKFM from 7pm tonight to hear an exclusive interview with Commander for the Milton Keynes local policing area, Marc Tarbit.
Delays on M1 following collision near Milton Keynes
Highways England is reporting two lanes are blocked on the M1 northbound between junction 15A and junction 16.
Milton Keynes dog-lovers invited to 'Big Doggie Do' this September
Bring along your four-legged friends to Big Doggie do and enjoy charity stalls, activities and dog shows throughout this exciting weekend
Milton Keynes pub raise money for Macmillan
The Broughton Hungry Horse have raised nearly £2,000 for Macmillan since re-opening in May and hope to reach their target of £10,000 by October with lots of community activities.
People in Milton Keynes reminded how to spot respiratory illnesses in children ahead of virus season
BLMK, NHS Bedford Luton and Milton Keynes, are reminding residents what signs to look out for when spotting respiratory illness in young children and when to call for help.
Brand new eye clinic opens in Milton Keynes following hefty £3.4m investment
A brand new Optical Express clinic has opened in Central Milton Keynes following a £3.4m investment from the company.
Family run cake business from Milton Keynes wins national award
'OH MY Cakery', a family run business from Milton Keynes, has won silver in 'Best New Business'.
Kids can eat for free this summer at Morrisons cafes in Milton Keynes
This summer, Morrisons is letting kids eat free in its cafes all day, until 5th September.
New transport app launched for smartphone users in Milton Keynes
MK Council has launched a brand new smartphone app to help local people and visitors make quick, clean and green transport choices in Milton Keynes.
You May Have Missed
'Scum' spray-painted onto Milton Keynes couple's store window as well as other graffiti
A Milton Keynes couple have had the word 'Scum' spray painted onto their store window, as well as other graffiti on their store sign.
EXCLUSIVE: McDonalds to restart breakfast service in Milton Keynes from July 8th
MKFM understands that McDonalds will be re-starting their breakfast service in all Milton Keynes stores from 8th July.
Cat is stabbed twice in Milton Keynes
Last week, a family discovered that their pet cat had been stabbed in each of her back legs.
Deadly blue-green algae appears in another Milton Keynes park as warning sent to dog owners
Deadly blue-green algae has been identified in another Milton Keynes park as dog owners are warned to keep their animals out of the lake.
The areas in Milton Keynes where the most deaths involving coronavirus have sadly happened
The Office for National Statistics have revealed new localised data on the number of deaths which have taken place involving coronavirus.
Coronavirus test centre employee's outcry over being charged to park whilst at work in Milton Keynes
Employees at the drive-in coronavirus test centre in Central Milton Keynes have to pay to park each day, it has been revealed.
Milton Keynes local coronavirus case numbers do NOT include Drive-Through test centre results
A national newspaper has revealed that government coronavirus case numbers on a local authority level do not include any tests from local drive-through test centres and some home testing kits.
Cafe Rouge to close in Milton Keynes as owners of chain enter administration
Cafe Rouge in Milton Keynes will be closing permanently as the owners of the chain enter administration.