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MAMMA MIA! The Musical Premiere — Naarm, Melbourne (VIC)

Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and some songs with Stig Anderson.

Reviewed by Edelweiss Angelita Princess Theatre, Melbourne Until 10th December, 2023 Tickets: https://premier.ticketek.com.au/Shows/Show.aspx?sh=MAMMAMIA23


4 STARS

- MAMMA MIA! The Musical is a worthwhile experience that makes you feel every single good emotion you can possibly list -

On October 4th, 2023, the Princess Theatre and its entire front street were buzzing for the Naarm/Melbourne premiere of MAMMA MIA! The Musical.

Having grown accustomed to relying entirely on the MAMMA MIA! soundtrack as the middle ground that appeases both musical theatre and non-musical theatre people during road trips, I knew there was no chance that this experience would be anything less than pure joy. Although, I should have known that the premiere was going to be something else because as soon as I approached the theatre, the streets were brimming with passers-by watching stars taking their turn to step onto the red carpet. The energy was vibrant even before I entered the theatre.

Once inside, the liveliness did not wane. It was like everyone was so ready to have the time of their life, and boy, did they have the time of their life.

Sophie Sheridan, portrayed by Sarah Krndija opened the show with her crystal clear voice, singing a lovely rendition of ‘I Have a Dream’. The collective sigh in the room was only the first of many that filled the Princess Theatre that night. The curtain seemed to tear even more the moment Sophie’s best friends Ali (Nina Carmen) and Lisa (Kadesa Honeyhill) entered the stage. The chemistry among the three performers was almost palpable. It felt as though while they were reuniting with each other, the audience was also invited to reunite with their nostalgic (or not) memories of being surrounded by loving friends. The moment they launched into ‘Honey, Honey’, there were hardly any pairs of shoulders left un-shimmying in the audience.

Cast of Mamma Mia! 2023 - Images by James D Morgan


A similar feeling arose as Tanya (Deone Zanotto) and Rosie (Bianca Bruce) arrived, completing the world’s original girlband – do not quote me on this – Donna and the Dynamos. Watching the dynamics between Donna (Elise McCann) and her two chaotic best friends was delightful and heartwarming. It was as if they were your old friends, too. While McCann is a powerhouse all on her own, ‘Money Money Money’ was made even more potent by the ensemble. I’m quoting the wrong musical here, but indeed, it only 'takes a taste' to know that I would never get enough of this remarkable ensemble.

If you thought the trio delights end there, you’re forgetting the reason the show exists in the first place: the Dads! Sam (Martin Crewes), Harry (Drew Livingston), and Bill (Tim Wright) all generously contribute their own charms to make the show shine a little brighter and feel a little more tender and warm and, of course, funny. Also, it’s never not lovely to see a daughter and her three dads sing a rendition of ‘Thank You For The Music’.

For the rest of the first act, group number after group number, the ensemble only seemed to know how to go harder and harder, making the closing number one of the most satisfying ones I’ve ever experienced. The quality of their performance, the heart they poured into every note and movement, their unwavering commitment to give their all every second that they’re on stage was unmistakably one of the main reasons why the show is so special. Stephen Amos as the company’s Musical Supervisor, Hayden Barltrop as the Musical Director, and Tom Hodgson as the Choreographer did a splendid job in their respective roles.

It never hurts to watch a show that performs 22 ABBA songs with a room full of people who are there to have the time of their life.

The bond within the island boys posse, all cheering on the groom-to-be, Sky (Lewis Francis) cannot be undermined in their role in comprising the heart of the show. Any scene with Sophie and Sky is also effortlessly endearing, thanks to the ease and comfort that transpire between the two actors. The chemistry between any possible combination of actors that grace the stage indubitably enriches the musical emotionally, making it an even more enjoyable and satisfying experience to sit in the audience.

As the curtain closed for intermission, the collective sigh we heard early on made its comeback, before it was closely followed with happy chatters about how this show has been a delight so far.

The opening of Act Two transported you to an entirely different dimension, and I would be remiss if I did not point out the impeccable job done by both the lighting department, spearheaded by Gavan Swift, and the costume department, led by Suzy Strout.

I would also like to state it loud and clear that Deone Zanotto deserved every second of the longest cheers and applause during the show after her performance of ‘Does Your Mother Know’ along with Jordan Tomljenovic who played Pepper, and the rest of the company. The energy was through the roof, and the duration of the thunderous applause — I’m quite certain it was longer than one whole minute — is a testament in itself to the quality of Zanotto’s arresting performance.

For the remainder of Act Two, McCann carried the show majestically, in all her demure glory. Her prowess seamlessly transforms with every scene, leaning into her best complementary qualities that smoothly elevate and enhance each one of her scene and duet partners, whose talents are already immaculate to begin with. One of the moments in the show that stuck with me the most — and I believe I wouldn’t be the only one — was McCann and Krndija’s rendition of ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’. The emotions, the chemistry, the tears — I won’t talk too much about it except for a friendly reminder to maybe bring some tissues with you, even if you think you are not a crier. Just in case.

If for whatever reason you are still unconvinced about going to the show, I’m just here to tell you that it never hurts to watch a show that performs 22 ABBA songs with a room full of people who are there to have the time of their life. Also, in a time where happy endings are a rare occurrence in the musical theatre landscape, and the state of the world in general is constantly questionable, MAMMA MIA! The Musical is a worthwhile experience that makes you feel every single good emotion you can possibly list.

Thank you for the music, MAMMA MIA! The Musical.

 

Book by Catherine Johnson, originally conceived by Judy Craymer for LittleStar in association with Universal. Additional material and arrangements by Martin Koch. Directed by Gary Young Oam, choreographed by Tom Hodgson, music supervised by Stephen Amos, set design by Linda Bewick, lighting design by Gavan Swift, sound design by Michael Waters. Produced by Michael Coppel, Louise Withers, and Linda Bewick.

The global musical phenomenon MAMMA MIA! The Musical makes the final stop of its 2023 Australian tour. Featuring 22 of ABBA’s greatest hits, including Dancing Queen, Voulez Vous, S.O.S and Take a Chance On Me, the iconic songs you know and love, had audiences dancing in the aisles in Sydney and Brisbane and now it’s Melbourne’s turn from October 4 - December 10 at Princess Theatre.


This exciting new production of MAMMA MIA! The Musical is produced in Australia by Michael Coppel, Louise Withers & Linda Bewick.


This 2023 production is a re-staging of the highly successful and critically acclaimed 2017 production which featured the original work of a completely Australian creative team lead by Helpmann Award winning Director Gary Young, Choreographer Tom Hodgson, Musical Supervisor Stephen Amos, Set Designer Linda Bewick, Costume Designer Suzy Strout, Lighting Designer Gavan Swift and Sound Design by Michael Waters.


Set on a Greek island paradise and inspired by the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, writer Catherine Johnson’s heart-warming tale centres around a young bride-to-be. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.


Seen and loved by over 65 million people around the world, this smash hit phenomenon is a joyous celebration of love, laughter and friendship, MAMMA MIA! The Musical is a fabulous night out for all ages!


A beautiful bride, a proud mother and three possible fathers. It's a trip down the aisle you'll remember forever!


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