Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia!
Edinburgh Playhouse
Runs Until 7th January

Mamma Mia! has arrived in Edinburgh for the festive season. Theatregoers are transported to a Greek island where Sophie Sheridan is about to get married. Sophie wants her father to walk her down the aisle, the problem is she doesn’t know who is he is…

Jonathan Allen’s set is simple, yet effective. A white, stone Greek villa is the permanent piece, which is separated, turned and moved around the stage with incredible slickness by the cast to create the different locations on the island. Mamma Mia! was one of the first juke-box musicals and the well-loved songs of ABBA are (mostly) woven seamlessly into an engaging storyline. Catherine Johnson’s book is packed with side-splitting humour and sexual innuendo. However, there are also some genuinely moving moments and subtle touches of feminism. All of this is portrayed convincingly by a stellar cast. The use of off-stage backing vocals, whether recorded or live, was justified. It was necessary for the big, high energy numbers but also gave the solos and duets a richer, overall sound.

Lucy May Barker’s Sophie is full of spirit and she possesses a great voice. Her take on the less famous number ‘The Name Of The Game’ was particularly lovely. She is matched by Phillip Ryan as her fiancé Sky and there was great chemistry between the pair, especially in the flirty number ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’.

Jacqueline Braun and Emma Clifford as Donna’s best friends Rosie and Tanya were the perfect comic duo. ‘Chiquitita’ had the audience in stitches in their attempts to try and console Donna. Each had their moment in Act 2: Braun playing well opposite Christopher Hollis’s Bill, who was evidently enjoying the chase in ‘Take A Chance On Me’ and Clifford in Tanya’s teasing of Pepper (Louis Stockil) in ‘Does Your Mother Know’. If Pepper failed to impress Tanya, Stockil’s dancing ability and cheeky charm certainly impressed the audience.

Hollis as Bill was one of the three potential fathers and he was joined by Richard Standing as Sam and Tim Walton as Harry. Sam’s love for Donna was clear from the start and Standing portrayed the part exceptionally well. Walton’s Harry was comical and sweet, with ‘Our Last Summer’, a duet with Donna, being a much appreciated gentle touch in the show.

Last but by no mean’s least, Sara Poyzer was exceptional as strong-willed single mother Donna. Her characterisation was on the mark. It is hard to pick a highlight from her performance. She delivered the titular number ‘Mamma Mia’ with aplomb, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ was sung with great control and stirring emotion, and ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ brought a tear to the eye, no doubt helped by the convincing mother-daughter relationship between her and Barker’s Sophie.

There is not a weak link in this entire cast, right down to the ensemble who danced and sang with the utmost energy. The mega-mix after the curtain call ended the evening with the entire audience on their feet, singing and dancing. They really couldn’t resist Mamma Mia!

 

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