Mamma Mia a fan-ABBA-tastic night at Venue Cymru – Theatre Review
Last night we headed over to Venue Cymru in Llandudno for the press night Mamma Mia the musical, a show that many have told me about, so how could Blazing Minds miss the chance to be part of the first ever UK tour of the smash hit feel-good musical.
Venue Cymru was sold out last night, which only goes to show how popular Judy Craymer‘s Mamma Mia! is, it’s an ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise. To date, it has been seen by more than 60 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages.
Settling in our seats last night you could feel the excitement in the theatre, then as soon as the music started you could feel that excitement on the rise, the show was about to start and this certainly looked like it was going to be a night that would not only be fun, but it was going to be a first for me, I’ve not seen MAMMA MIA! The Movie starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, which is the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film of all time, so everything would be new to me.
All I knew about the musical is that it is based on the songs of ABBA and tells the story of a wedding that is about to take place on a Greek island and the bride invites three men who one of them could potentially be her father. Suffice to say there is plenty of comedy and emotion during Mamma Mia! as the story unfolds to a soundtrack of ABBA songs that include, Dancing Queen, Super Trooper, Take a Chance On Me, Mamma Mia! and many more.
Upon the curtain going up at the start of the evening’s performance, it was clear that you would get a feel for the Greek Island that the story would be based on, the set is simply designed that the two key sections are rotated by the Ensemble Cast to produce the outside and inside locations, it’s all done seamlessly throughout the show.
The stage lighting is very well done to produce not only day and night, but also the various moods for the scenes of Mamma Mia! with subtle reds for evening sunsets and sharp blues for the lovely sunny Greek days, kind of makes you feel that you want to get away to Greece for a nice holiday.
The cast of Mamma Mia! is superb, they certainly bring the story to life with a passion and emotion that brings the characters on the stage to the hearts of the audience. Lucy May Barker was brilliant as Sophie Sheridan, the bride who is the centre of the story, her stage presence comes across delightfully and what a wonderful voice, as does Helen Hobson, who plays her mother, Helen seems to have mastered the many moments of the character with the comedic scenes right up to the emotional scenes.
Joining Sophie and her mum are her mum’s friends Rosie (played by Gillian Hardie) and Tanya (played by Emma Clifford), I loved these characters they certainly had me laughing with their antics on the stage, in particular, Tanya who has the young men on the island with their joys on the floor when they first see her when she, arrives on the island. Emma Clifford put on a great performance as Tanya, Gillian Hardie also had me laughing with her antics as well, I think my most memorable moment is when she started performing Take a Chance on Me to one of the possible fathers played by Christopher Hollis, priceless.
Christopher Hollis, Jamie Hogarth and Jon Boydon were more cast members that brought the show to life, the three who played the possible fathers, Bill, Harry and Sam, worked very well together on the stage, they also sound great when they were performing many ABBA’s musical numbers.
I have to say that Mamma Mia! really surprised me, it’s another musical at Venue Cymru that has had me singing along to the songs, tapping my feet and clapping along. The music is all beautifully performed by the cast, the costumes looked amazing, as did the sets, the choreography looks superb with so many of the stage at once all coming together in perfect timing to produce a stunning looking show.
With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch, Mamma Mia! is a show that you have to see, it’s a feel-good show that not only deserved the full standing ovation, it will leave you with a sense of happiness and the widest of grins when you leave the theatre.
We were told last night that Mamma Mia! has sold out for this one week run at Venue Cymru, but there are single seats scattered around that are still available, so if you want to get the chance to see this stunning show you can get your tickets from www.venuecymru.co.uk or by calling 01492 872000.