Earlier in the year, I was delighted to see the latest cast of Mamma Mia! in the West End production and they blew me away. Collectively, the Dynamos are the best three I’ve seen in all my years of watching and occasionally reviewing the show. Sara Poyzer plays Donna and she sparkles with a down-to-earth quality which I always feel ought to be an overt trait in Donna. Kate Graham is obviously in her element as Tanya, tongue-in-cheek humour, glamorous and loving life whilst attracting the younger man! Ricky Butt as Rosie is everything I expect the character to be – perfect comic timing and her understanding of the character’s persona shows.
To be able to interview the three actresses who have reignited my passion for the musical was an absolutely superb opportunity, so without further ado – I give you…. Donna & the Dynamos!
Sara Poyzer (Donna), thanks for talking to Entertainment Views. I know you’ve played Donna before on international tour, what enticed you back and made you want to play the role in the West End?
When I finished the international tour after being on the road for four years, it was the travelling I was tired of rather than the role itself, so it was a real treat to be asked to come into the West End and do it. Particularly with the second film coming out and the 20th anniversary of the show coming up. Of course, there was no guarantee that I would get the job when I went for it, so to be offered it was like being offered the role all over again. I was absolutely delighted.
The chemistry between the three Dynamos works so well, what do you think the secret is?
I’ve known Kate (Graham, who plays Tanya) for years and we are very old friends and because I’ve done this show for a few years, as soon as I knew Kate was in the cast and that Ricky (Butt, who plays Rosie) had been cast as Rosie we met for coffee ahead of rehearsals. We said “right, we’re mates, we’re mates on stage and off stage” and that’s grown over the past few months as we’ve got to know Ricky. We have a genuine friendship and we support each other professionally, emotionally and personally. We’re mates and I’m glad that shows on stage.
What’s your favourite Abba song in the show?
I love singing ‘The Winner Takes It All’.
What did you think of Mamma Mia 2? Did it live up to your expectations?
I thought it ticked every box as far as being very sentimental with great story telling and excellent performances. I left with a smile on my face, which was exactly how I reacted to the first film as well. I think in this day and age the film is a real tonic for life’s daily pressures and challenges. I went to the film premiere and I was star struck by the stars and celebs sitting by me so I was half watching the film and half watching Cher out the corner of my eye!
Do you think there’s room for a Mamma Mia 3?
I don’t know but I’d like to see Mamma Mia 2 on stage!
If you weren’t in Mamma Mia what would you have your eye on doing next in your career?
I don’t know, my heart is in theatre, I love doing theatre – maybe I’d go for something more serious and classical which is where my training is. I think maybe I’d like to work at the National Theatre next.
What led you into a career as a performer?
I got a job at Nottingham Playhouse and started to see a lot of plays and it was a bit like an epiphany, I fell in love with performing and the whole romantic notion of what theatre is. So at the age of 24 I decided I wanted to go to drama school. I auditioned for a few drama schools, got in to one and got a local council grant. I trained as a straight actor but I ended up in the cast of Billy Elliot which propelled me into the world of musical theatre. I have no regrets because I absolutely love musical theatre, I think it’s a really powerful medium.
Finally, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to book a ticket and come and see you all?
The show has so many universal themes such as friendship, love, guilt, joy and comedy. There are so many different elements in this show that I think although it sounds such a cliché when I look out during the finale each night I see people from all walks of life and it feels like it’s appealing to all of them. It’s one of those shows that ticks every box and it features the music of Abba, and they have written such amazing pop songs.
Kate Graham (Tanya)
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Kate, so you’re no stranger to the show and indeed the role as you played Tanya on international tour, what made you decide to play the role again?
I played the role eight years ago and I loved it. After I finished the international tour I had been waiting for it to come up when I was free.
What’s your all-time favourite Abba song?
I like Angel Eyes but I also like When All Is Said and Done. I can’t ever fail to be moved by Happy New Year, whenever I hear it I start bawling, no matter what time of year it is!
What’s your personal highlight from Mamma Mia?
I like Under Attack, although I’m not in it! I think it’s a really good song, I love Sophie on the bed surrounded by the dads and Donna gets a really sexy costume in it. My favourite scene that I’m involved in is the bedroom scene where we sing Chiquitita and Dancing Queen, it’s just a really great scene from start to finish, the progression of it is really fun. The connection that the three of us have is great.
What did you think of Mamma Mia 2?
I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure it’s marvellous?
It is, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So, moving on to your career, what led you on this particular career path?
I just really liked doing it, I’ve always liked creating something or performing something or telling a story. I came from quite an academic family so they forced me to go to college and do a proper degree first but all the way through I carried on acting and singing in my spare time. Eventually when I’d done all my qualifications I said “now can I go and do it?” and I was told yes!
Are there any roles that are on your bucket list for the future?
I just like working and actually the roles that I would play probably haven’t even been created yet, I love doing new things. Prior to doing it I would have said I’d like to play Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot but now I’ve done it! That’s the only role I’ve really hankered after. I always play character roles, I always play smaller roles so they tend to be quirkier and come up in things that are new and you don’t know exist yet.
Previously you worked as assistant director with the children who starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is that something you’d be keen to go back to in the future?
Yes I would, I really enjoyed it. I always think you’re better at teaching performance while you’re still performing yourself.
Finally what would you say to encourage everyone to come and see Mamma Mia?
Come and see us, it’s a really great evening out at the theatre.
Ricky Butt (Rosie)
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Ricky, so first of all, how familiar were you with Mamma Mia before you took the role of Rosie?
Very familiar, I’m friend with Jenny Galloway who was Rosie in the original cast and I remember meeting up with her and she told me how all the songs were going to fit in and I thought that sounds amazing. Funnily enough I did the sound effects for the very first Mamma Mia film as a Foley Artist. So this was a natural next step.
Congratulations on winning an Emmy for your work as a Foley Artist, by the way! What led you in that direction in the first place?
It was when I’d had children and a friend of mine was doing it, an opportunity came up to do it with her – and it fitted in with my family. What they liked was my dancing background as it helps if you have a natural ability to move. It’s become a secondary career as when I had my children I’d turned my back on the theatre really. Now I’m back working in the theatre and I’ve been doing the Foley along with it.
As the Dynamos in Mamma Mia, yourself, Sara and Kate are by far my favourites to date – what makes that chemistry work so well?
We just seem to click and complement each other very well. I share a dressing room with Kate who plays Tanya and we’ve got to know each other very well so we bring something new into the relationship of Rosie and Tanya every night. I take whatever she throws at me on stage and throw something back.
You also have great chemistry with Stephen Beckett as Bill…
Yes, we are on the same page, we wanted to make it feel as if the characters really like each other, I wanted it to come across that Rosie is testing the waters to begin with and not just after a man. Also, instead of wearing heels for the wedding as Rosie sometimes does, I wear flats so that we can make use of the height difference between us too.
What did you think of Mamma Mia 2?
I loved it, I thought particularly when the older characters came on it seemed to give it a bit of a boost and then I thought the rest of the film really worked.
Which roles have you got an ambition to play in the future? Would you carry on in musical theatre if you could?
I’m at an age where there isn’t that much for women of my casing so I think I’ve won the lottery playing Rosie! These roles don’t really come up very often and this time I got the golden ticket! I’d been asked to audition for the role a couple of years ago and I turned it down, but I’m doing it at the right time now.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to see Mamma Mia?
I know of people, even other actors who have been to see the show and have come out feeling moved and haven’t been able to believe how good it is. It is a jukebox musical and I think people think it’s going to be a bit cheesy but it’s much better than you might think it’s going to be. You’ll have a great time.
I’d like to thank all three ladies for their time, it was great fun chatting to them all and I urge you all to buy a ticket to see Mamma Mia: Mamma Mia Tickets
Can I also draw your attention to the Entertainment Views Awards which are voted for by the public and part nominated by the public, part nominated by the panel. Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham, Ricky Butt and Stephen Beckett are all shortlisted as is the show itself – cast your vote by 1st November: Entertainment Views Awards 2018