Mamma Mia! The Musical - Sydney Lyric Theatre (NSW)
Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Book by Catherine Johnstone.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star Casino Until 30th July
- Love it or hate it, the infectious nature of ABBA is undeniable, as is 'Mamma Mia's' inherent toe-tapping, joyous appeal -
Sydney, here we go again, again! The global phenomenon Mamma Mia! has arrived back in Sydney, and I was ready to immerse myself in an evening of glitz, glamour, and ABBA's greatest hits. With the Sydney Lyric Theatre the busiest I’d seen it for an opening night in a long time, it’s safe to say the anticipation for the ABBA jukebox musical was electric.
As the story unfolded on the fictional Greek island paradise, it was hard not to find yourself hooked by the heartwarming tale of a young bride-to-be's quest to discover her father's identity. Bringing these characters to life, Sarah Krndija shined as the spirited Sophie and Elise McCann delivered an exceptional performance as the vivacious Donna Sheridan. Their chemistry was palpable, and their voices soared through the iconic ABBA songs.
Images by James D Morgan
From the opening of Krndija’s “I Have a Dream” through to the namesake song, “Mamma Mia” sung by McCann, the pair had an entirely believable chemistry as mother and daughter, bringing their own energy to the characters themselves.
It took less than 30 minutes for audience members around me to start humming and singing along to some of ABBA’s greatest hits. Granted, it took less than an hour for me to do the same. The infectious energy of the cast and the timeless music of ABBA had us all tapping our feet and struggling to not dance in our seats. With hits like "Dancing Queen," "Voulez Vous," "S.O.S," and "Take a Chance On Me," it was impossible not to be swept up in the joyous fun.
The production itself was a visual feast. Set design by Linda Bewick transported us to the Greek Isles, while Suzy Strout's costumes dazzled with their sparkly jumpsuits and vibrant colours. Choreography by Tom Hodgson brought dynamic energy to the ensemble numbers, leaving us exhilarated and craving more. Indeed, this craving intensified when the ensemble more or less vanished in the second act, and their absence was sorely missed.
Supporting Krndija and McCann were a slew of equally talented and hilarious supporting characters. From the comic timing of Drew Livingston as Harry to Deone Zanotto's spirited delivery as Tanya, every character added depth and charm to the story. The harmonies of the Dynamo trio, Bianca Bruce as Rosie, and the standout vocals of Martin Crewes as Sam Carmichael created magical moments on stage.
Come on, let’s admit it, you all have a favourite ABBA song. Right now I’m humming “Dancing Queen” and I guarantee it will be in your head for the rest of the evening.
It was during the show-stopping numbers that the atmosphere truly came alive. The nightclub pre-wedding celebration in Act One nearly had the audience on their feet, clapping and cheering. And the opening number of Act Two, depicting Sophie's pre-wedding nightmare, was a visual, choreographic, and vocal feast - a rare feat that some musicals fail to hit.
With the explosion of Tik Tok trends and the eruption of jukebox musicals, not even ABBA could escape some of the cheesy segways into musical numbers. Small thematic song choices hang by a thread as the characters sing their way through a backlog of ABBA hits to help pad the runtime, while others are left for the cinema versions sequel - “Fernando” is off-handedly mentioned but that song is provided to Cher in Here We Go Again.
As the show reached its finale however, the Sydney Lyric Theatre erupted into a near ten-minute standing ovation and celebration. The audience couldn’t help but be dancing and singing, caught up in the sheer joy of Mamma Mia! The Musical. The experience was uplifting, heartwarming, and a true celebration of ABBA and theatre itself.
Mamma Mia! The Musical really is one for the ABBA fans and those who are new to musical theatre itself and want a soft, cushy segway into the world of dance numbers and spontaneous singing. But come on, let’s admit it, you all have a favourite ABBA song. Right now I’m humming “Dancing Queen” and I guarantee it will be in your head for the rest of the evening. So why not go and sing it loud and proud in the theatre? Go on, I dare you.
Sydney Lyric until July 30
Brisbane QPAC Lyric Theatre from August 6
Melbourne Princess Theatre from October 4
Tickets and information here www.mammamiathemusical.com.au
Elise McCann DONNA SHERIDAN
Sarah Krndija SOPHIE SHERIDAN
Bianca Bruce ROSIE
Deone Zanotto TANYA
Martin Crewes SAM CARMICHAEL
Drew Livingston HARRY BRIGHT
Tim Wright BILL AUSTIN
Lewis Francis SKY
Nina Carmen ALI
Kadesa Honeyhill LISA
Jordan Tomljenovic PEPPER
Etuate Lutui EDDIE
Chiara Assetta DANCE CAPTAIN / SWING
Lily Baulderstong SWING
Carlo Boumouglbay ENSEMBLE
Campbell Braithwaite SWING
Emily Cascarino ENSEMBLE
Chelsea Dawson ENSEMBLE
Denise Devlin ENSEMBLE
Lauren Goetz ENSEMBLE
Matt Hamilton FATHER ALEXANDER / ENSEMBLE
Crystal Hegedis ENSEMBLE
Marie Ikonomou ENSEMBLE
Josh Mulheran ENSEMBLE
Bronson Pfeiler SWING
Lewis Shilvock SWING
Tom Struik ENSEMBLE
Riley Sutton ENSEMBLE
Carla Venezia SWING
Geoff Winter ENSEMBLE
MUSIC AND LYRICS BY BENNY ANDERSSON
MUSIC AND LYRICS BY BJÖRN ULVAEUS
BOOK BY CATHERINE JOHNSON
ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED BY JUDY CRAYMER
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL & ARRANGEMENTS BY MARTIN KOCH
AUSTRALIAN CREATIVES & PRODUCTION
DIRECTOR GARY YOUNG
CHOREOGRAPHER TOM HODGSON
MUSICAL SUPERVISOR STEPHEN AMOS
SET DESIGN LINDA BEWICK
COSTUME DESIGN SUZY STROUT
LIGHTING DESIGN GAVAN SWIFT
SOUND DESIGN MICHAEL WATERS
CASTING DIRECTOR LYNNE RUTHVEN
CASTING ASSOCIATE DIONI BUTT
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PHILIPPA GOWEN
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR CASS JONES
RESIDENT DIRECTOR ED WIGHTMAN
RESIDENT CHOREOGRAPHER DION BILIOS
MUSICAL DIRECTOR HAYDEN BARLTROP
PRODUCER MICHAEL COPPEL
PRODUCER LOUISE WITHERS
PRODUCER LINDA BEWICK