Theatre blogger, West End Wilma, catches MAMMA MIA! at London’s Novello Theatre. Here’s what she thought…
Sixteen years ago, back in 1999, MAMMA MIA! the musical opened in London’s West End. Sixteen years later it is still playing to packed houses eight times a week. The classic Abba songs have helped to dictate the story of this jukebox musical. However, details from the songs are cleverly extracted and used within the script (something perhaps not every show dedicates time to doing).
Sophie is about to get married to Sky, the love of her life but she wont feel happy doing it unless her dad is there to walk her down the aisle. Unfortunately, Sophie doesn’t know who her dad is and her mum has been pretty vague about the whole thing. However things take a turn for the better when Sophie discovers her mum’s diary from the year she was born (what a coincidence) and realises she has three potential fathers. She invites them all to her wedding and is sure she will know which is her father just by looking at him. But can it really be that easy? And how will Donna (Sophie’s mother) react to seeing her three ex boyfriends after all these years?
Recent graduate Gabriella Williams is good in the lead role of Sophie but it is the three Dynamos Rosie (Jo Napthine), Donna (Dianna Pilkington) and Tanya (Mazz Murray) who really steal the show here with comedy characters and enough lycra to last a lifetime. The three potential fathers Harry (Alasdair Harvey), Bill (Charles Daish) and Sam (Richard Trinder) are typical dad type characters with embarrassing dance moves and stories of time gone by.
If MAMMA MIA! were to have opened in the West End this year, I honestly don’t think it would have survived six months. The set is very minimal and apart from the finale there isn’t much in the way of costumes either. I still stand by my opinion that the Spice Girls musical Viva Forever was no worse in storyline or structure than MAMMA MIA! but it just wasn’t the right time to release another jukebox musical.
Having seen Mamma Mia three times this year, I’ve realised that whilst it might not be the greatest show in the world, there certainly is a tourism market for it (expect translation conversations in the audience) and even I seem to keep migrating back there so they must be doing something right.
Reviewed by West End Wilma of www.westendwilma.com.