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Quick Change Review: Mamma Mia! (Tour)


Most of us can only dream of opening up a white-walled taverna on a Greek Island, tucked away from the mainland, with a cocktail bar on the beach and a village of locals to call company.

Whilst watching Mamma Mia!, for two and a half hours you get to live that dream.

But, you quickly realise that much of the show’s charm is in how it holds a mirror up to many of our lives.

However idyllic the scenery or however much salt is in your hair, it doesn't remove anxiety about commitment, the struggles of feeling alone, and thinking about the one – or, in Donna’s case, three – that got away…

Mamma Mia! is about the relationships we hold and how time and distance doesn’t have to diminish them. Oh, and about celebrating them, of course.

Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Catherine Johnson’s book is widely adored. 20-year-old Sophie invites three of her mum’s past lovers to her wedding with the hope she’d instinctively know which one is her dad.

As they, flirtatious bridesmaids, unruly stags, and larger-than-life aunties hit the island, the best kind of chaos ensues. Think ensembles dressed in scuba outfits, bananas being used as nipple tassles, and dancing on tables. The best kind of fun.

Accompanied by the undeniably stellar hits of ABBA, the show hits the spot like a shot of Ouzo. You're instantly in for the ride.

Mark Thompson’s design sees the stage a gentle, inviting sea of blue denim and silver rhinestones catching the light. Gradually the stage becomes awash with a golden hour glow, all warm with pink and orange hue lighting (designed by Howard Harrison).

Jena Pandya is truly irresistible as Sophie, giving an angelic vocal performance (her 'Thank You For The Music' is divine) and dizzyingly sweet performance particularly during the tender parts.

Another stand-out is James Willoughby Moore as Pepper. With witty comedic timing and unshakeable dance moves, he’s a scene-stealer.

Mamma Mia! is a riot, and much of that comes down to being unafraid to laugh at itself – and how conveniently well the numbers fit the story.

Helen Anker and Nicky Swift are rip-roaringly funny as Donna’s best friends, and the trio are a delight to watch. As the three suitors, Daniel Crowder (Harry), Phil Corbitt (Bill) and Richard Standing (Sam) are joyous; perfectly embodying the intoxication of nostalgia with humour and acceptance.

Wonderfully Anthony Van Laast’s choreography mimics the natural instinct we all feel when we hear the songs. The Dynamo’s ‘Dancing Queen’ features air piano and pointing between friends, and the anthemic 'Voulez Vous' combines spinning circles with elements of Zorba the Greek.

It’s difficult to tell, did we as nation collectively learn our moves from the show, or was the choreography inspired by every guest who has had a couple of drinks at a wedding?

The orchestra play Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ famed music with eager energy delivering hit after hit. It all leads to the show-stopping 11 o’clock number, 'The Winner Takes It All'. A devastatingly beautiful number performed whole-heartedly by Sara Poyzer.

With the island in your heart, you’ll be humming the songs for days to come. A-ha.

Mamma Mia! plays at Curve until 24 September before continuing on tour.