Mamma Mia, the Abba musical, is 11 years old this month and it has become a firm favourite for theatre breaks. We went along to see the show recently and I can really see why it remains so popular. It was a terrific night out, full of fun, laughter and good music. We came out of the theatre surprised to find ourselves back in London, always a good sign.
Mamma Mia – it’s not the film
Well, we’ve all seen and enjoyed the film of Mamma Mia and the show transports us to that magical Greek island. This is done partly with a deceptively simple set and lighting effects but mostly it’s the acting and the music that transports us.
The show follows a slightly different tack to the film and concentrates a little bit more on the younger members of the cast. In the film Sophie (the daughter) and Sky (her fiance) are quite minor characters in many ways. On stage this changes and some of the most memorable songs are performed by these two.
It’s Abba but not as we know it.
The music is undoubtedly Abba and you do find that you tend to know all the words. The difference is that the songs have been transformed into musical theatre and suddenly you can hear the strength of the melodies and the power of the words. I’ve never been fond of Abba but I enjoyed the show immensely. For Abba fans, and there were quite a few of them there, it is total bliss.
The show is timeless and ageless
I was worried that the show might have dated but I shouldn’t have been. It still seems as fresh, fun and charming as it did when it opened. If you are old enough to remember Abba the first time around, you’ll love it even if you wouldn’t have been seen dead listening to something so ‘uncool’ at the time!
The costumes are fun, especially the Donnna and the Dynamites, Abba at it’s most kitsch ! The ensemble’s costumes in the hen night scene did find me occasionally wondering if I could revive some old 70’s favourites before common sense took over
But what really impressed me was the age range of people enjoying the show.
Sitting next to me was an Indian lady who had brought her grandchildren, two delightful little girls (ages 6 and 8). They all loved the show and Grandma joined in with many of the songs! There were lots of children at the performance I went to and they were all very well behaved, perhaps because what was going on on stage really caught their attention. Even on a Monday night the cast were full of energy and fizz. They created a real party atmosphere and by the end of the evening everyone was on their feet singing, clapping and dancing along.