WHEN Judy Craymer conceived Mamma Mia! the Musical (it premiered in London in 1999) she showed just how an artist’s discography should be woven together to create a cohesive storyline.
More recent examples of this musical format have demonstrated it may not be as easy or successful as she made it look, which makes the ABBA-inspired show all the more admirable.
The new Australian production, which opens at Crown Theatre Perth on May 15 as part of a national tour, continues the history of the show’s epic international success and delivers a much-loved and fun night at the theatre, which this reviewer experienced on a recent trip during the Sydney season.
The set immediately transports you to the Greek Islands with its white walls and blue window shutters, while a medley of those familiar ABBA tunes begin to get the toes tapping and head bopping along.
Sophie (Sarah Morrison) opens the show, skilful in singing I Have A Dream before her bridesmaids arrive and the audience is witness to the premise of the story during Honey, Honey, presented with youthful enthusiasm.
Sophie, raised by her single mum Donna (Natalie O’Donnell), has never known who her father is and, unbeknownst to her mother, has invited the three possible suspects to her wedding with fiance Sky (Stephen Mahy).
The arrival of Donna’s friends (in a previous lifetime part of Donna and the Dynamos) Tanya (Jayde Westaby) and Rosie (Alicia Gardiner) is only the beginning of this hilarious team, whose comic timing and one-liners throughout the show is to be applauded – and it is.
In fact, the entire cast looks like they are enjoying themselves on stage as much as their audience is entertained watching them.
The trio of prospective dads soon arrive, with suave Sam (Ian Stenlake), lovable but geeky Harry (Phillip Lowe) and adventurous carefree globetrotter Bill (Josef Ber) and the marvellous mayhem begins.
The cast is flawless performing 22 of ABBA’s greatest hits including Thank You For The Music, Dancing Queen, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! and Super Trouper.
Stenlake schools Pierce Brosnan in how he should have performed SOS in the film version, while Westaby and Gardiner reach great comedy heights in their respective Does Your Mother Know and Take A Chance On Me.
Mahy is the perfect level of heart-throb and supportive fiance, while his performance in Lay All Your Love On Me is to be commended, despite the highly amusing, flipper-filled distraction being performed by the talented ensemble surrounding him.
The musical is packed with strong female characters, none more so than Donna, and O’Donnell plays the role with heartfelt emotion and devotion, making spine-tingling moments with her performances of Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes It All.
With a film sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, scheduled for release in July, it is the ideal time to say I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do to this musical beauty.
What: Mamma Mia! the Musical
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: from May 15