MAMMA MIA! Dances Its Way Into Brisbane
Written by British playwright Catherine Johnson and created by ABBA's former members Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! continues to be one of the chief feel good musicals of our generation, spreading joy and laughter through the auditorium and getting the audience to leave their seats and become their own dancing queens.
The ninth longest running show in Broadway history opened in Brisbane this week and is leaving the cast with a standing ovation at every performance. Set on a petit Greek island, Mamma Mia! follows the story of a young bride to be Sophie Sheridan's quest to unearthing the identity of her father, a figure her mother Donna, the former lead singer the 1970's pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to converse about. After finding Donna's secret journal, Sophie discovers that she has three potential fathers: Sam Carmichael, Bill Austen and Harry Bright, whom she invites back to the island that they visited twenty years ago for her wedding, much to her mother's dislike.
The cast of this brand new Australian production features the return of Natalie O'Donnell, only this time not as Sophie but as the mother of the bride and the beautiful Sarah Morrison as Sophie. The mirthful Jade Westaby stars as Tanya and well-known Offspring actress Alicia Gardiner plays Rosie, both best friends of Donna. The three possible fathers are played by Ian Stenlake, Josef Var and Phillip Lowe, with Stephen Mahy staring as Sophie's devoted fiancé. The cast also features a fantastic ensemble of singers and dancers, whom you cannot help but let your eyes linger on as they light up and animate the stage.
The highlights of the vibrant musical supervision of Stephen Amos include O'Donnell's rendition of 'Slipping Through My Fingers', the culmination of Mahy's vocals in 'Lay All of Your Love On Me' and the ensembles comical choreography in their scrub gear which featured an actor transforming into a mermaid on the rock, Westaby's impeccable vocal control, presence and sexiness in 'Does Your Mother Know', Lowe's heartfelt rendition of 'Our Last Summer' and the audience erupting in applause and cheer during Gardiner's wonderfully hilarious performance of 'Take A Chance on Me'.
Under the direction of Helpmann Award winner Gary Young, the production combines simplicity and spectacle through its choreography, costumes, set design, lighting and references to local Aussie towns. Tom Hodgson's stunning choreography beautifully electrified and animated each song, giving the words a new meaning. Suzy Strout's costume design complimented Hodgson's colourful choreography featuring costumes that were eye-catching, sexy and fun, in which the actor's moved with flair. The set design by Linda Bewick featured a hotel which was transformed into different rooms by additional smaller set pieces such as Donna's room and the venue for the wedding. Gavan Swift's elaborate lighting design further aided Young's comical direction of the plot with the stand outs being the use of flashlights in 'Mamma Mia', the disco setting in 'Super Trouper' and the dramatic light changes in 'SOS'.
Mamma Mia! is a production filled with colourful performances, a contagious atmosphere, a dedicated creative team and a stellar cast. If by the end of the musical you're not dancing on your seat and singing along to the songs then you must have gone to the wrong theatre.
Director: Gary Young
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Season: 26 December - 4th February
Prices: From $59.95-$149.95
Bookings: qpac.com.au or 136 246
Groups 12+ call 07 3840 7488