Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

De Graaf & Cornelissen Entertainment brings back the beloved hit-musical and smashes it out of the park!

By: Sep. 10, 2023
Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

Mamma Mia! A global musical theatre hit, a phenomenon. World wide audiences have seen this show, two movies musicals have been made since then starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, amongst others, it’s a box office dream.

For those of us who have never seen the smash hit which is Mamma Mia!

It’s a jukebox musical with hits by ABBA (Music & Lyrics by Benny Anderson, Björn Ulvaeus with Stig Anderson). Script by Catherine Johnson, original concept by Judy Craymer

It tells the story of Sophie, who’s getting married and wants to finally know who her father is… only one problem. There are 3 possible fathers. Will Sophie discover in time who her father is, so he can walk her down the aisle? And what does her mom Donna think of this blast from the past? All of this takes place on a sunny Greek Island.

In a contemporary and exciting direction by Martin Michel and produced by De Graaf & Cornelilssen Entertainment, we get to re-discover the magic of this show. In a world where there’s a lot of criticism of revivals of shows, there’s only one conclusion. Go and watch this version of Mamma Mia! and let all the criticism die a quick death.

If you’re going to do it, do it better and take the original story and bring something new to the table.   

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

Brigitte Heitzer plays Donna. Brigitte is a charming actress, who always brings a certain realness to her roles, making her characters accessible and human.  She brings us a  free-spirited Donna, who is independent, charming, defensive and lovable all at once.

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

Soraya Gerrits as Sophie is a dream. Her youthful heart, her angelic vocals and stage presence are wonderful to watch. An actress to watch out for.

The wedding dress scene, while Donna sings Slipping Through My Fingers is one of the most heartfelt renditions I have ever seen. Both Brigitte as Soraya play the underlying emotions very well, the lingering presence of their upcoming farewell to their former life.The scene embodies the heart of the show, the love between mother and daughter, and (modern) family life.

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

The new translation is in the skillful hands of Jeremy Baker. It is not only very well executed, in some scenes (The Winner Takes it All - translated as De Winnaar Claimt De Prijs) it actually excelled not only the original Dutch translation of earlier versions, I would go as far as it’s better than the ABBA original. Sure, the ABBA popsong was not written for theatrical purposes. Nevertheless, Jeremy transformed it in a dramatically layered song, where Sam (René van Kooten) is looking for redemption and forgiveness and Donna (a disarming rendition by Brigitte) explicitly explaining on why she can’t do so. Brilliant. Van Kooten as Sam is solid (in a good way) as always, but where it gets interesting in the scenes with Brigitte as Donna. Their real-life friendship shines through in the scenes, where we get immediately more profound emotions in the conflict between Donna and Sam. Kudos for the casting.

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

In general, all roles are casted very well. Dennis Willekens as Harry Headbanger is endearing, Barry Beijer als Phil (the explorer) is hilarious, in particular in the ‘seduction’ scene with Rosie, played by the witty Wieneke Remmers. Samir Hassan plays Sky, Sophie’s fiance. Samir is gifted actor (and singer – but that should go without saying if you’re one of the leads in a musical). His natural style is a very pleasant.  Last, but definitely not least, what a treat to see Carolina Dijkhuizen as Tania, the diva friend of Donna. Never over the top, she makes intelligent choices with her character, which adds to the hilarity.

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

The young ensemble is an energizing bunch,  a diverse pool of stage talent. Choreographer Chiara Re made a vibrant, dynamic, 3D staged, fun-loving masterpiece, where you have too little time fully understand all the magic in front of you. Sophie’s nightmare, as played during the Under Attack song, is exciting to watch. The whole ensemble in wedding dresses, eery, ghost like, while doing acrobatic acts with Sophie.

Mamma Mia!, the original staging, could be described as static and maybe a little old school. Chiara brings Mamma Mia! to a new audience, where I would hope that this staging and choreography is the new status quo for all global adaptations.

The set design by Eric van der Pale is smart and ingenious. It’s set on a revolving stage, we see smooth transitions from one scene to the next, and all transitions are staged perfectly. From Donna’s bedroom, to the Greek Island, the tavern run by Donna,  to the wedding scene.

Review: MAMMA MIA! – An Energizing Breeze of Fresh Air on a Greek Island

Special mention also to Arno Bremers, the costume designer. The cast are dressed in dashing outfits, florid and colorful, giving the show a contemperary feel and look.

Also, the excellent live band led by musical director Billy Maluw, is on fire. Nothing can beat live music and the musical score of Mamma Mia! needs the energy. 

In conclusion, this Mamma Mia! is anything but a Greek tragedy, it’s a freaking dreamboat of a production. Bravo De Graaf & Cornelissen. Next to the excellent production of Les Miz this season, they have hit another homerun. High quality musical theatre, where all the disciplines -both on and of stage- can shine bright and no corners are cut. Can't wait to see what they do next. 

Photo credits: Roy Beusker. 


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