On paper, mixing ABBA’s now classic music with a storyline involving a Greek island and a young girl trying to find her father, who could be any of her mother’s three 70’s lovers, sounds a stretch.
In reality Mamma Mia is a glorious, hilarious, sunny, romp through the emotional highs and lows of life, exploring the relationships between mother and daughter, between couples but mainly between true friends.
This touring production, landed at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, does not disappoint as it traces the build-up to Donna’s daughter Sophie’s wedding and the surprise introduction back into Donna’s life of three men she loved.
The storyline is craftily woven through Abba’s remarkable back catalogue of music, each song as recognisable as the next and belted out by the talented cast.
Sara Payzer stars as Donna Sheridan.
This is actually the second time I have seen Sara in the role andthere is no doubt she is perfectly cast as the slightly lost, but feisty survivor to whom many women can make a connection.
She tackles the highest of notes with ease while switching from comedy to displays of emotion, all while performing the witty choreography.
The production has been shaken up since I last saw it, with sets simpler and the songs re-ordered around the storyline.
But the highlights remain scenes focusing on the relationship and chemistry between the three older woman (time does not wither any of them..)
These set-pieces mixing song, dance and clowning have the audience in stitches, Sara, Jacqueline Braun (Rosie) and Tanya (Emma Clifford) display a rare ease with other and confidence on stage.
Lucy May Barker shines as Sophie, her remarkable singing voice her greatest asset, as she portrays a young girl unsure of what she wants in life.
The hard working ensemble really are remarkable, with the choreographed, comedic, scenes between the boys making the audience laugh out loud.
And lets not forget the men – Sam (Richard Standing), Harry (Tim Walton) and Bill (Christopher Hollis – who nailed their performances.
Thankyou, indeed for the music.
And of course, the Lycra.