Review: Mamma Mia! at The Mayflower Theatre


This great performance of Mamma Mia will leave you saying "I do, I do, I do!".

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The famous ABBA musical, Mamma Mia!, has come to The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton for its month long run! The musical, which was the brainchild of Judy Craymer, and was composed by ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, follows the story of a mother and daughter duo, Donna and Sophie. In the run up to her wedding, Sophie sets out to discover the identity of her father; all set in the idyllic backdrop of a beautiful Greek island. And of course, there’s that iconic ABBA soundtrack too!

There is no doubt that Mamma Mia! is camp, boisterous, and exuberant – which is largely the commercial success of the musical. And this was certainly the case when watching the touring production at the Mayflower. The evening was filled with platform boots, glitter, and feather boas galore. There is no doubt that Mamma Mia! is more popular with a female audience (indeed there were very few men in the audience), and this did lead to some parts of the musical such as the rendition of ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’, whereby a large proportion of the male cast parade around in nothing but their underwear, undoubtedly being added purely as hen night fodder. However, if taken with a pinch of salt, this only adds to the fun of the performance.

The ABBA soundtrack proved as popular as ever – after all who can resist singing along to ‘Money, Money, Money’! There is little that can go wrong with such a crowd pleasing soundtrack. The most popular part of the evening proved to be the encore section, whereby the crowd were invited to become ‘Dancing Queens’ and sing to some of the band’s classic songs, including ‘Waterloo’, whilst confetti was launched over the audience.

Overall the cast gave a solid and practiced performance. In particular, Sarah Poyzer was fantastic in her role as lead Donna, and her rendition of ‘Winner Takes It All’ deserves particular praise. In addition, Jacqueline Braun delighted in her role as Rosie; her comedic talent was clearly evident throughout. In particular, Braun’s performance of ‘Take A Chance on Me’, alongside Christopher Hollis as Bill Austin, was riotously hilarious, with a Benny Hill style chase scene, chair throwing and all. Undoubtedly, the older cast members stole the show, whilst the acting of younger cast at times seemed a little stage school, and overly camp.

Of course, it can’t be ignored that a large proportion of the popularity of the musical in the past few years has been down to the success of the 2008 film. The musical, at times, faces an uphill struggle due to the inescapable comparison, and for me Julie Walters and Colin Firth as Rosie and Harry are hard to replace. However, when separated from the film, Mamma Mia! as a stage musical is fun, vibrant and entertaining. Though not the most serious piece of theatre, the unforgettable soundtrack and enthusiastic cast, who clearly love the show, make the musical a lively, enjoyable, and funny experience. Mamma Mia! will leave you saying “I do, I do, I do!”.

Mamma Mia! is at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from 13th September to 8th October 2016.


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