★★★| Mamma Mia – Leeds Grand Theatre and National UK Tour
Sophie is determined to have her father walk her down the aisle at her forthcoming wedding. After finding out that there are three potential guys who may be her father, she invites them all to the forthcoming nuptials; but will she find out which one really is her father, and how will her mother react when three of her former lovers all turn up unexpectedly?
Currently on its first ever UK tour, Mamma Mia is a show which needs little introduction. Based around the hit songs of Abba, the show has been a phenomenon for many years and continues to pack out theatres with its sunny setting, perfect pop and feel-good factor.
The show feels as warm as the weather in the Greek setting to the story, with a set made up of a backdrop of brilliant blues and two moveable parts to the set which transforms the locations of the story very well. The lighting design is well conceived, the costumes include some spandex and stomping platform boots, and the whole thing is fairly seamless in its presentation.
Sadly, for such a slick and polished production, the lead cast was disappointing; with both the acting and singing not being of a standard one would expect from such a huge show. Someone in the foyer joked “at least we won’t have to listen to Pierce Bronson sing tonight” (referring to his much-maligned performance in the film version of the show); but at times, his dulcet tones may have been a blessing. It is the ensemble cast who really shone in terms of their enthusiasm, singing and dancing; with more gorgeous gals and hunks in trunks than you can shake a stick at; and an abundance of muscular and ridiculously attractive young men in the ensemble with vast amounts of six packs, biceps and perfect pecs on display.
But the real star of the show is the music, and with a soundtrack which plays out like your ABBA Gold CD, there are more than a few songs here that you will know every word to. There are some storming numbers, which work really well; “Money. Money, Money”, “Mamma Mia” and “Does Your Mother Know” are good ensemble pieces, and the collision of the stag and hen do’s to “Voulez Vous” was an enjoyable highlight; with this show reminding you of just how good ABBA really were.
But where the show really succeeds is in the fact that it remains an absolute crowd-pleaser and presents itself with a real sense of fun. It’s a show which cranks up the camp, ditches the story and plot and goes all out to enjoy itself. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but by the time the crowd are on their feet singing and dancing at the end, you know that you have had a good couple of hours of escapism and managed to kick-start your summer.
Mamma Mia is currently playing at Leeds Grand Theatre (www.leedsgrandtheatre.com ) until Saturday 8th July 2017. Leeds play host to the forthcoming tours of Wicked and The Band; and present the World Premiere of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends in November 2017. The show then continues on its national tour, calling in at Canterbury, Bournemouth, Brighton, Aberdeen, Sunderland, Oxford, Glasgow, Llandudno, Northampton, Wolverhampton and Sheffield. Visit http://www.mamma-mia.com/uk-tour/index.php for details and tickets.