Mamma Mia! is back in Manchester for yet another run at the perfect time, just a couple of weeks before the Hollywood blockbuster sequel Here We Go Again hits the big screen across the country. Regularly cited as the best jukebox musical the world has to offer, the stage show doesn’t take long to prove why, and audiences were fortunate in getting one of the best ensemble casts that I’ve ever seen pulled together for the performance.
Lucy May Barker is back in the role of 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan; a girl who’s set to get married to her partner Sky (the returning Phillip Ryan), but who hopes to uncover the mystery of who her father may be before the ceremony. The only problem is that there are three men in the frame, so she has to invite each of them to her wedding to get closer to the truth. Barker and Ryan’s performances are as polished as they come; Sophie is a girl you would love to introduce to your parents; and Sky is a young man in love, who seems to have the world at his feet. The pair bounce off one another with electric chemistry, lighting up the stage with their beaming smiles. It’s worth noting that the loved-up duo have just got engaged in real life, so it’s nice to see them bring every ounce of their romance to their performances.
Tamlyn Henderson, Daniel Crowder and Matthew Rutherford tackle the fan-favourite characters Sam Carmichael, Harry Bright and Bill Austin respectively; each with their own unique personality traits and quirks. The trio consistently have us in tears of laughter, with perfect comedic timing and a charm that draws the attention of everybody in the room when they share their memories.
The real show stealers however come in the form of Shona White as Donna Sheridan, and both Nicky Swift and Helen Anker as best friends and fellow Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya. Whether they’re performing upbeat numbers that have the audience bouncing along in their seats, or you’re sat tearing up during White’s rendition of Slipping Through My Fingers, you’re with them every step of the way. A major highlight comes when Anker gets to let loose with Does Your Mother Know, opposite Matt Jordan-Pidgeon’s cheeky cougar-hunter Pepper; it’s an utter feast for the eyes.
Anthony Van Laast has really delivered on his choreography throughout his years working on Mamma Mia!, and this tour is no exception. Every number is slick and well thought out, with intricate attention to detail. Stunning on every level.
Mamma Mia! utilises an incredibly effective set, that folds in and out of sight whenever necessary to allow for different surroundings. Just a few props are used to really envelop the audience, forcing them to feel a part of every moment that takes place on stage.
Truly, there’s not enough good that can be said about this show. It’s one every person deserves to experience at least once, and should turn even the most sceptical of theatregoers into fully-fledged fans. Watch it whenever you get the opportunity, and don’t be afraid to get up on your feet at the end of the show and dance along. It’ll be a night to remember.
Mamma Mia! runs at the Palace Theatre in Manchester until Saturday, July 14.
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