“Here we go again!” After playing here in 2001, 2009 and returning in 2018, MAMMA MIA The Musical is back in Australia, ready to captivate new and old audiences alike.
Featuring a local cast, the plot of the musical is largely the same as the movie that it spawned in 2008. Twenty-year-old Sophie Sheridan, who is getting married in her hometown of Kalokairi, Greece, to her boyfriend Sky, secretly invites to the wedding the three men who might be her father. Her mother, Donna, a one-time singer in a girl band, had flings with all three men 21 years ago and Sophie is desperate for her dad to walk her down the aisle. Predictably Donna is less than impressed by the unexpected attendees but her two best friends, Tanya and Rosie – her one-time back-up singers who have come for the wedding – offer comfort and support leading up to the Big Day.
The musical was written as a vehicle for as many of the ABBA hits it could squeeze in – and there are loads including ‘Honey, Honey’; ‘SOS’; ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’; ‘Chiquitita’ … and 18 more. Chances are, your favourite is included.
Playing Sophie is the talented Sarah Krndija (Class of ‘07), whose strong singing voice and bouncy stage presence make her a likeable leading lady. Her three potential fathers all acquit themselves well (Tim Wright as Bill, Martin Crewes as Sam and Drew Livingston as Harry). The actresses playing Donna’s besties, Deone Zanotto and Bianca Bruce harmonise beautifully together and are worthy comic stand-ins for the roles played by Christine Baranksi and Julie Walters in the film. I was a little underwhelmed by Elise McCann (Donna) and Lewis Francis (Sky) whose lighter voices did not always reach those of us in the Dress Circle, but the ensemble cast as a whole meant the musical shone. Having been bopping along in my seat all night, my favourite part of the show was the finale where we were allowed to get up and dance and sing along to mega hits Mamma Mia; Dancing Queen and Waterloo performed by the cast.
I’m old enough to remember the ABBA phenomenon of the 1970s and ‘80s. The Opening Night audience was made up of Boomers and Gen-Xers like me for whom ABBA was the soundtrack to their youth; and just as many youngsters whose parents would have had the records, which underlined ABBA’s universal appeal.
MAMMA MIA The Musical
Sydney Lyric, Until 30 July
Brisbane QPAC Lyric Theatre, from August 6
Melbourne Princess Theatre, from October 4