Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review from the archives: 'Mamma Mia'

Found a shortish review I had written but never posted.

Mamma Mia! at Prince of Wales Theatre, London
Performance: Thursday 23rd August 2012 at 19:30
Seat: Left Rear Stalls
Cast included: Sally Ann Triplett (Donna Sheridan), Charlotte Wakefield (Sophie Sheridan), Joanna Monro (Rosie), Rebecca Bainbridge (Tanya, u/s), Gary Milner (Sam Carmichael), James Gaddas (Bill Austin), Neil Roberts (Harry Bright), Andreas Gyllander (Sky)

I personally can't believe this was my first time seeing Mamma Mia! on stage. Having spent my childhood in Finland, I had been exposed to ABBA's music from an early age and as a teenager I even went through a stage when I would be listening to ABBA all the time. Of course I have seen the 2008 film and, well, thought it was okay. Whatever anyone else says, I personally think that Mamma Mia! has a decent plot considering it is a jukebox musical (silly but decent) and the songs do mostly tie in well with the story.

My experience at the Prince of Wales was not the most amazing as there were people somewhere behind me applauding at inappropriate times and a middle-aged man two seats down on my left singing along whenever he knew the lyrics to the songs. By the middle of the first act the thought of leaving at interval seriously crossed my head - it was that bad. I decided to stay until the end though. At least I can now say I have seen the show.

The show itself was entertaining anyway. To start with, it had many more jokes and sexual innuendos than the film - some of them truly funny and some of them I found myself laughing at because they were rather cringe-worthy. The stage version included more songs as well even though the story was effectively the same as in the film version - complete with guys in swimwear.

The whole set radiated a light, feel-good atmosphere with its tropical blues, yellows and greens.
Out of the cast, I greatly enjoyed Sally Ann Triplett's performance as Donna. Joanna Monro was hilarious as Rosie also. Rebecca Bainbridge was a little bit young for the role of Tanya but considering that and as she was an understudy, she did a great job too. 
Of course the music of ABBA played a principal role in the show but none of the arrangements or performances of the songs were near as good as the originals. However, if you love the film, do go and see the stage show! Even if it did not particularly appeal to me, the fact that it has been running in the West End for over 10 years not to even mention all the tours and international productions, does suggest that audiences are enjoying it and recommending it to others. It is one of those shows which, along with other long-running shows such as We Will Rock You and The Lion King, attracts a lot of tourists even if you cannot imagine a local person to go and see the show several times.  

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