I’ve been an ABBA fan for as long as I can remember. Constantly attached to my hip was my walkman playing ABBA Gold over and over and over. I’d sing the songs aloud (sorry!), everywhere I went. ABBA is just one of those bands that will be loved by all generations and genders- my nephew at the age of 2 became the biggest Mamma Mia! fan- and Mamma Mia! live is an incredible portrayal of their music.
You’ll have seen from my many reviews that I’m no stranger to musical theatre. I’ve quite a strong basis for comparison. Yet, this show is in a context all of its own. It can’t be matched with anything I’ve ever seen before, because I just don’t think it’s been done before. Undoubtedly this is because the ABBA songs (Dancing Queen, Super Trouper, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, I Have a Dream, etc.), which are the basis for the storyline in Mamma Mia!, make it completely unique. Each song has been picked meticulously with the themes portrayed and it’s incredibly how absolutely flawless it is. The idea of using classic pop songs for a story would lead you to believe that this was a tribute to the band itself or even, upon realising it is an original story with the ABBA songs used as a thread to tell a story, that it would somehow be clunky and ruin the popular songs. Though actually, it just makes the story more real. And, being the beloved greatest hits of ABBA, you’ll inevitably be singing (and dancing) along with them. The ‘concert’ at the end was a particular highlight where jumping around in your seat is greatly encouraged.
It’s also incredibly empowering to see such a powerful female cast and a production driven by women- Sara Poyzer as Donna (lead) and Lucy May Barker as Sophie (lead), Jacqueline Braun as Rosie (hilarious), Emma Clifford as Tanya, Judy Craymer Mamma Mia! visionionare, Catherine Johnson who created the book around Mamma Mia! and Phyllida Lloyd who directed the production- at a time when feminism and equal rights is still problematic, there are women able to break all kinds of barriers and instill confidence in the generations that anything is possible.
The entire production is extremely energetic; vibrant colours, singing, choreography, larger than life characters- your best friends, your mother, your family and your own personal identity.
Mamma Mia! is everything you could possibly want from musical theatre; songs you know and love, a gripping love story, fierce friendships, tantalising scenes that’ll leave you blushing and comedic fun. It’s feel-good, heartwarming and you’ll leave feeling completely uplifted. My recommendation is to take the generations with you; grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters, etc. this is something to be enjoyed by all but if you want a night away from the family (and we wholeheartedly think you should), take your closest gal-pals and let down your hair. ABBA and Mamma Mia! has that powerful effect on you, it’ll bring families and friends closer together.
Catch this global phenomenon whilst you’ve got the chance. Though it’ll likely be around for years to come- this particular cast was magnificent.
ATG Tickets: Mamma Mia!- at the Bristol Hippodrome until 7th May.
Images: Brinkhoff Mögenburg