Novello Theatre, London
It’s a cult classic, it’s summery fun, it’s the music of ABBA and altogether it’s a great night out. It’s never going to be the most theatrically enthralling or deeply emotive piece of theatre but Mamma Mia! is a boat load of laughs and a perfect carefree way to spend a couple of hours.
In case you’ve somehow missed it, Mamma Mia! is set on a Greek Island where Donna Sheridan lives with her daughter Sophie, who is getting married to ex-banker Sky. Sophie is on a mission to find her dad so invites her three potential fathers to her wedding. What ensues is a journey where past emotions are brought up, and the importance of family is examined and everyone bops out to a bit of ABBA. When it opened in 1999 in London, very few would have imagined the worldwide success of the Mamma Mia! franchise and it seems that this success is in safe hands with the current West End cast who are helping it celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Having recently taken over the role, Charlotte O’Rourke is super sweet is Sophie Sheridan. Bringing the sweet vocals we all expect as well as power in act two. Alongside Alec Porter as Sky, the pair make a nice duo and give an especially entertaining performance in ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’.
Leading lady Donna is a pretty extensive role which requires some big vocal chops. At this performance, Caroline Deverill took on the role and did so with both honesty emotion and exuberant energy. Songs such as ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Money, Money, Money’ were stand outs of the night. As her Dynamos, Jennifer Hepburn (Rosie) and Kate Graham (Tanya) gave spandex filled performances and delivered their witty lines with a freshness that the audience clearly loved.
Sophie’s three dads were played by Mark Isherwood (Harry), Stephen Beckett (Bill) and Richard Trinder (Sam). The three get the audience on their side immediately and give wonderfully comedic and heart warming performances. Their complex relationships with each other, Donna and Sophie are well played out and extremely entertaining.
The ensemble work hard to bring the Greek island to life in terms of choreography as well as providing backing vocals to most of the show. There did seem to be come vocal imbalance throughout, with the leads often being almost silent but this was rectified by the mega-mix ending.
Mark Thompson’s basic set is cleverly used with the addition of props and lighting to simplistically put the story across and compared to other shows does feel a bit dated and overly basic, but it does the job and that’s all you can ask for, and expect, with a show like this.
With the Mamma Mia sequel recently being released and the ABBA love being felt more than ever, it’s no surprise that this show continues to be a success. It’s not a categorically ‘great’ musical but it’s super energetic, platform filled and as much fun as you wish it could be.
Tickets for Waitress can be booked via www.londonboxoffice.co.uk
photo credit: Brinkoff/Mögenburg