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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


4 STARS


- 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

@mammamiainoz


CAST

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


CREATIVES

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


AUSTRALIAN PRODUCERS

PRODUCER MICHAEL COPPEL

PRODUCER LOUISE WITHERS

PRODUCER LINDA BEWICK



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