There are feel-good musicals and then there is Mamma Mia. The Granddaddy - or Grandmummy - of them all. For years now it's been cemented as one of the best, if not THE best jukebox musical of all time, and it's easy to see why.
20-year-old Sophie Sheridan is a girl who has always wondered who her father could be. Mamma Mia opens with Sophie delving into her mother's diary and memories of three partners, each of which could be the parent she's never met. With a wedding to her fiancé Sky right around the corner, she invites all three to return to the island where they last saw her mother Donna, hoping to discover exactly who helped conceive her. But, of course, things don't go entirely to plan...
Using the music and lyrics from Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, with some songs also featuring the work of Stig Anderson, Mamma Mia is a celebratory, uplifting and enlightening production with infectious tunes that you'll be singing for days after leaving the theatre.
The set is simple yet effective. It seems to fold in and out of itself to allow for different surroundings, with just the addition of a few props, chairs, beds or tables needed to make the audience feel as though they're seeing entirely different scenery.
Incredibly slick choreography from Anthony Van Laast ensures that every single upbeat number is not only a treat for the ears, but a feast for the eyes, as every performer on stage gives it their all and delivers an impeccable performance. Louis Stockil is a standout as Pepper in this regard, receiving a rapturous round of applause for his showstopping moves in hilarious number 'Does Your Mother Know', whilst Emma Clifford can more than hold her own opposite him as Tanya.
Sara Poyzer also has to be praised for her Donna Sheridan, with a gorgeous rendition of 'Slipping Through My Fingers' moving many of those in the audience to tears. Jacqueline Braun and Emma Clifford are perfect in their respective roles of Rosie and Tanya, providing some brilliant comic relief as Donna's unique best friends.
Lucy May Barker is an angelic Sophie Sheridan, her voice smooth and velvety. She really draws the attention of the audience and ensures that you're with the show every single step of the way. Praise too must go to Sophie's friends Ali and Lisa, played by Micha Richardson and Blaise Colangelo. Though they're not allowed the chance to have as much of an impact as Donna's Dynamos, they're certainly capable of getting the laughs when given the time to shine.
Though arguably the women steal the show, Richard Standing, Tim Walton and Christopher Hollis all also make their presence known. They're the three potential fathers to Sophie - Sam Carmichael, Harry Bright and Bill Austin - each with their own story to tell and memories to share. Their experience on the stage shines through as they refuse to allow an audience's attention to wane. Phillip Ryan, a relative newcomer to the theatre world also puts on a smashing performance as Sky.
Going through the entire cast and crew would be tiresome but it is clear to anybody who watches Mamma Mia that this is a true ensemble show. Every single person who steps out on that stage or helps put it all together, whether it be one of the leads, a member of the ensemble or even the band who we can only see a glimpse of come together to deliver a fantastic and unforgettable show.
Mamma Mia runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday, June 4. Make sure you go and see it.
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