The stage adaptation of the hit movie-musical Mamma Mia! is touring the UK, and is here in Nottingham at the Theatre Royal to entertain us with some of the most dance-able and emotional ABBA hits. The movie itself is jam-packed with ABBA’s greatest hits, and there are even more additions from the original material in this adaptation, so you’re almost guaranteed to not miss out on your favourite. Emily Fletcher reviews.
I was immediately impressed by the exceptionally strong pop/theatre vocals by the main cast. Although it did highlight some weaknesses among the secondary cast members, this never really distracted. Jena Pandya was perfectly cast for the innocent and wistful SophieM but still stood out strongly against the crowd and against other powerful vocals.
I enjoyed myself the most when we were with Donna & her Dynamos, both together and in their separate scenes; these women offered fantastically comical roles, with perfectly timed comedic moments measured without too much vulgarity or slapstick. I noticed some concerned mothers glancing at their children with some particularly risque jokes, but I felt they were subtly placed enough that this can still be an enjoyable family experience. Sara Poyzer’s Donna Sheridan was rough, tough, but with all the elegance and heartbreak required for the character. I was only disappointed when the orchestration almost drowned out her rendition of The Winner Takes It All.
Overall, every member of this cast seemed like they were there to have the best time, particularly at the culmination sing-along at the end, in which the lights quite literally turned to the audience and nearly everyone was on their feet, dancing to encore renditions of Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen. James Willoughby Moore offered a particularly engaging performance as the playful, cheeky Pepper, bringing out the big dance moves to win over the audience.
This can still be an enjoyable family experience
There was consistently great movement around the stage created by the swiftly rotating walls and the energetic ensemble, although my companion at the performance noted that the integration of the stagehands who came on to move the set was a little distracting with little to no blackout between scene changes, often seeing them hover in the background ready to move the set pieces.
There was a more surprising moment after returning from the interval as the audience were thrown (quite literally as the sudden restart to the music made every person in the theatre jump!) into an avant-garde dream scene, but this was certainly a welcome break from a story and track-list many fans of the movie will be familiar with. The emphasised English accents throughout, particularly for some of the numbers many are familiar with without a defined accent, were somewhat off-putting at times, but the big notes still carried themselves.
Altogether this was an exciting, non-stop evening, perfect for ABBA fans and musical fans alike, offering a perfect mix of both without one overpowering the other. I would highly recommend for all ages.
Mamma Mia! is currently performing in Nottingham until the 23rd April 2022 and touring throughout the UK until April 2023.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy Theatre Royal. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to these images.
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