As many of my friends will bear witness to, I am a big fan of ABBA (I even tried in vain to even reverse one of the ‘Bs’). When it comes to my turn as DJ in the car the songs of ‘Mamma Mia!’ are highly likely to feature. As a result of this I was really excited to go and see ‘Mamma Mia!’ the musical, however there were slightly more misses than hits for me on this one.
The songs of ABBA need to be belted out and at times some of the performances felt a little polite and very English, this could be a result of sound levels but they still needed to give it some welly. This is not a reflection of all the songs however, some did make me want to get up and dance; particularly when the ensemble joined in as they brought extensive commitment and energy on stage throughout. The choreography was fun and loud, with athleticism that I could only wish for after a 12-week boot camp and so much credit should go to the choreography team. The movement of the set was seamless and well planned to provide the varying locations on the island.
‘The Dynamos’ were everything I wanted! Tanya and Rosie, played by Helen Anker and Nicky Swift, were fab and oozed carefree fun which is essential to the success of ‘Mamma Mia!’ The harmonies between the duo and Donna’s beautiful vocals (Sharon Sexton) had the essence of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries. They rescued the performance a little for me and gave it the push it needed, especially through hits like ‘Chiquitita’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ which are firm favourites for me and my two closest girlfriends. The relationship between Sophie (Emma Mullen) and Donna was sweet and felt genuine. I was trying to put my finger on what wasn’t quite right throughout and it was that a lot of the actors seemed to come on stage out of breath and so the dialogue felt like it was being forced at times. I understand how difficult it must be to dance, sing and act in quick succession however details like this can affect how a performance comes across. With it being such a big show and, in a way, carrying a brand I was hoping for a little more attention to detail. Sam, played by Rob Fowler, gave a much better vocal performance than Pierce Brosnan in the film, but I didn’t feel that immense love between him and Donna that was kept apart for 20 years. Harry (Daniel Crowder) and Bill (Jamie Kenna) were funny and as a group ‘The Dad’s’ did have a few good moments
I still got up and danced to all the encore songs and I think that this show will be loved by many and I will always be the first at the microphone asking “Chiquitita tell me what’s wrong?”, but on this occasion I was left wanting just a bit more.