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Mamma Mia – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Music:/Lyrics: Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus

Book: Catherine Johnson

Director: Phylidda Lloyd

Reviewer: Helen Patrick


The mini spring heat wave may have disappeared from across the region, but summer has already arrived at The Palace Theatre with the welcome return of international smash hit and ‘Original’ Jukebox musical Mamma Mia. Over the past few years, we have been given many touring productions of West End musicals, but have had to make do with several cutbacks, usually in the set and size of cast, but with this current International Tour, no expense has been spared, here we have a full size cast and an almost exact carbon copy of the set which has firmly made its home in the capital for over 10 years.

Sophie Sheridan is turning 20 and about to marry the man of her dreams, having been brought up by her single parent mother Donna in her hideaway Taverna off the mainland in Greece. After secretly reading her mother’s diary Sophie invites the three men who could be her father to her celebrations in order to complete her fairytale white wedding. But when the men arrive and Donna finds out not everything runs as smoothly as one originally hoped and the characters are all left in a whirlwind of self doubt and discovery.

Filled to the brim with toe tapping ABBA hits; Mamma Mia is unusual in the sense that unlike other Jukebox shows, where the songs feel shoe horned into the production, it seems from the off that serious thought and story construction from the creative team have meant that they’ve produced a show that feels complete – ok so the story (Catherine Johnson) may not be super strong, but it still packs an emotion punch when it needs too. Director Phylidda Lloyd has managed to bring the best out of every cast member and directs a production that is comical and touching and gains a great reception from the sold out audience. The show is also helped by a simple set premise (two individual taverna walls, that rotate and move around the stage to create various locations) designed by Mark Thompson, and also gains great feeling thanks to Howard Harrison’s atmospheric lighting design and to top it all off we have some stunning choreography from Anthony Van Laast.

Taking on the matriarchal rôle of Donna is Sara Poyzer who has tons of Charisma as the fiercely independent single mother, however her vocals didn’t quite knock it out of the water, especially during the more intimate and quiet solo numbers. Local girl Charlotte Wakefield takes on the rôle of Sophie and is beautifully cast, here we have a performer who has not only blossomed into a stunning young woman, but her performance skills have also developed immensely since her debut in Spring Awakening a few years ago. Her Sophie is full of joviality and wide eyed anticipation of youth and bursts equally with excitement and angst, and to top it all off she can seriously belt out a tune, a long and prosperous career lies ahead for her. Sophie’s spouse to be sky is played with a charming level of geek chic by David Roberts.

Matthew Lloyd Davies (Harry), Richard Standing (Sam) and Charles Daish (Bill) give great support and have a great connection with each other on stage however it is the performances of Kate Graham as posh bird Tanya and a larger than life performance by Jennie Dale (Rosie) that steal the show with a classic combination of comic force and knockout vocal talent.

Mamma Mia may be in its 12th year, but it has firmly stood the test of time, the production has a strong and timeless quality about it making seem as fresh and as enjoyable as it was back in the late 90’s. I defy anyone not to enjoy this energetic fun filled show that will leave you clapping till your hands are as red as a drunken European on the sandy shores of Kos.

Photo: Brinkhorf/Mogenburg – Runs until 11th June 2011

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  1. Although i loved this musical that i came to see with my family yesterday (12th may 2011)it was excellent, however i did find the use of the word (Christ)at least four times offensive and totally unnecessary within the story.

  2. I’ve only one word for the show after seeing it on the 11th of May and that is AMAZING! I thoroughly enjoyed it as did everyone else by the reaction of the audience.
    Mrs J. Coley if you found anything in the show offensive, how do you cope with your day to day living? There are people in the “street” and on the tv that use far more offensive words than that!

  3. I went to the palace on 21st May. What a waste of money.
    Storyline weak boardering on non-existant. Both main female leads could not sing ( Sophie in particular was flat from the outset). Totally agree with Mrs Coley about inappropriate use of language when children were present.
    The only thing that carries this show through is the music and the fact that the audience keeps the show going.

  4. Went to see the show with my Mum last night (23rd May) and it was amazing. Thoroughly good value for money. Totally disagree with Eric – none of the singing was flat. I can’t recall any inappropriate language either. I must have been so caught up with the brilliant performances I missed it.
    Couldn’t recommend this production of Mamma Mia enough.

  5. Went to se MAMMA MIA last night (24th May) and absolutely loved it! It was amazing, so much better than i ever thought it would be. love love love love loved it.

    Only criticism – unnecessary use of swear words, the scenes and lines are hysterical without them, they arent needed and i saw a mother infront of me with her children looking a little concerned –

    otherwise – MAMMA MIA = what a WIN!

  6. I went to see this on Saturday afternoon (4/6/11) and thought it was EXCELLENT! The singing was fantastic, the acting was fantastic and the dancing was fantastic!
    Even being sat high in the stalls didn’t detract from the most feelgood show I have ever seen.
    As for the swearing I remember one B*****d, which admittedly I did think was inappropriate for a matinee performance. I didn’t notice the word Christ being used once and can only assume that Mrs Coley is a Christian and therefore easily offended by the word (I hope you wear earplugs when walking though your local high street, its a lot worse!)The leading ladies were all of a high professional standard and the simple set, works so well. I would recommend and would go and see it again and again! Eric, I’m sure there’s an episode of Question Time for you to watch!