Now, this wasn’t my first trip to see Mamma Mia. Having seen the show twice in London, I was excited to see what the show was like on tour. And there it was, non-stop fun from the brilliant opening safety message (for platform boots and white lycra could spell trouble for those with a nervous disposition) to the finale in which you see the Dynamos and the dads decked out in all their frilly colourful glory.
From the start I was aware that some of the jokes were different from when I saw the show in London. Originally, I thought that perhaps these changes had been made for the touring production, as changes are often made in these cases, but after the show at stage door I found out that this performance was the muck up matinee for the departing cast. I have heard of muck up matinees before, especially for Les Miserables in London, but I haven’t actually seen one more. Once I knew that this was the case, the change of the jokes made more sense. Some of the cast members did look quite surprised when certain things happened, such as Sophie being presented with a bride-to-be sash by her bridesmaids and Sky being dressed up with the sash and a polka-dot bra for his stag do rather than his usual wetsuit. All of these additional jokes made the show even funnier, and I must say I did find it very funny in the normally very emotional ending when Donna acted as if she was going to hug Sophie than instead hugging Sky first.
Sara Poyzer played Donna here and she was great, full of energy and fun whilst also bringing a lot of emotion and depth to her character. You really felt for her in her reactions to seeing the three dads and seeing her daughter in her wedding dress. A lot of humour came from her interactions with three dads, particularly Tim Walton as Harry in ‘Our last summer’. And of course, her relationship with Tanya (Emma Clifford) and Rosie (Jaqueline Bralin) also brought a lot of comedy in ‘Dancing Queen’ and the dynamo performances. Both Clifford and Bralin were hilarious as Tanya and Rosie, delighting in mucking around with the many props in ‘Dancing Queen’. To be completely honest, I’m not sure which parts of this were truly planned and which were part of the muck up but either way it was amazing. Bralin was able to make the audience laugh every time she was on stage, her and Christopher Hollis as Bill had everyone in stitches with ‘Take a chance on me’ and I loved her reaction of seeing Sky for the first time, greeting him with a look up and down and a very happy Hello.
Richard Standing was perfectly cast as Sam, a character with a somewhat complex story. He was able to show his softer side in scenes with Donna and with Sophie whilst still being able to show the fun side as he joins in with the joking with Bill and Harry and enjoys dancing with the girls at the hen party. I particularly enjoyed his take on the scene between himself and Sophie as he tried to explain that weddings don’t always bring a happy ending (Knowing me, Knowing you). He was also able to make the audience laugh, especially in his reaction to Harry and Bill’s sudden singalong ‘Thank you for the music’.
Lucy May Barker was a wonderful Sophie, performing with both a cheeky side in her interactions with her bridesmaids Ali (Micha Richardson) and Lisa (Blaise Colangelo) and her husband to be Sky (Phillip Ryan), and the depth that comes with her character when she realises what she has done. The scene in which she argues with Donna was brilliantly done. Her voice was also lovely particularly in ‘I have a dream’ and ‘Thank you for the music’. I loved Phillip Ryan as Sky, his comedic timing was brilliant especially in the scene in which he and his drunken friends are confronted by Donna on the morning of the wedding. He seemed to take all of the muck up jokes in his stride, seeing as he seemed to be the butt of quite of few (doors being closed, bras being forced upon him amongst other things). I also noticed his little sing song to himself as he worked on the boat, happily singing another Abba song (Ring Ring) to himself. Louis Stockil as Pepper and Sam Robinson as Eddie were his back up and both were brilliant. Stockil especially performed in ‘Does your Mother Know’ flirting with Tanya and having the audience in stiches with his quick movements and cheeky smile. Being dragged off of the stage with the movement of the bar may have been planned or may have been a muck up joke but either way, he made it brilliantly funny with his reaction.
The staging of Mamma Mia is seemingly simplistic, with two large set pieces being moved and rotated again and again to create the different scenes, but it is extremely effective. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated and the use of the chorus to move the set around and bring in the props works well as it just seems to be as if they are the traverna workers, moving everything around. With the set being quite open, with only the two large set pieces in the centre of the stage, from the stalls you can see movement behind the set and props being moved in and out of the wings but this isn’t too distracting.
Overall, I loved this production of Mamma Mia. It was so full of fun and energy and the audience were obviously loving every second of it. I don’t think I have ever seen an audience so eager nor ready to clap along at every given opportunity and they were on their feet for the whole of the finale, dancing and clapping away. The cast were amazing and all so perfect for their characters. Even though this was my third time seeing the show, it felt very new and fresh with new takes on the characters and the jokes. I could have happily sat there and watched it all again.