★★★★ | Mamma Mia! The Party, The 02

★★★★ | Mamma Mia! The Party, The 02

Enter the world of ABBA, and Greece, by attending MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY at The O2 London – it’s the best in immersive theatre. And what a great idea!

Yes, it’s the 02, but once you enter you are transported to a Greek-style courtyard (on the Greek island of Skopelos no less) where it will make you forget the horrific Jubilee Line ride that took you there.

It’s a romantic courtyard that seats over 200 people with tables scattered on top of balconies, lower levels, stage level and the ground floor – surrounded by Greek-style leaves hanging down from the walls. And at the centrepiece of all this is the water fountain in the middle of the room. You have to see it to believe it – it literally stops you dead in your tracks when you enter the room where you automatically want to start snapping photos and selfies with you and your friends.

But as it’s a party, there is food and drink involved, as well as great singing and dancing, performed by a cast that belongs in the West End! But it’s the East End – far from the West End, but never mind – for three hours you will forget this and suddenly Greek language will spew forth from your mouth.

And the show that is performed right before your very eyes is the story of Nikos and his wife Kate who run this exotic and wonderful restaurant together with their family and friends. Told through dialogue and ABBA songs, it’s a warm, romantic and funny story which evolves and unfolds during the evening, taking place around the guests as they sit at their tables enjoying a delicious Greek meal. The evening ends with the main floor bring transformed into a 1970’s disco where audience members are welcome to stay and dance.

On arrival, you’ll be greeted with a smile and a complimentary welcome cocktail, after which you are welcome to purchase drinks from the several taverna bars.

The London cast includes Fed Zanni as Nikos, Steph Parry as Kate, Joanna Monro as Debbie, AJ Bentley as Adam, Julia Imbach as Konstantina, Elin König Andersson as Bella, Kimberly Powell as Nina, Pauline Stringer as Grandma, Gregor Stewart as Fernando, with Linda John-Pierre playing Debbie at certain performances and Allie Ho Chee playing Bella at certain performances.

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In between all this are yummy starters such a mezze selection followed by succulent meat dishes paired with tempting sides, and it all ends on a deliciously sweet note with authentic Greek desserts.

Ticket prices start from £135 per person including VAT.

This includes a welcome drink, a set four-course meal, a show and an ABBA disco at the end of the evening.

There are different types of tickets to choose from: Premium, Band A, Band B, Band C (on some performances) and Band D. Premium and Band A ticket holders are seated at tables on the ground floor in the Courtyard and on the Terrace levels, and Band B and C ticket holders are seated at tables in the Terrace levels and Balcony. Band D seats, which offer a partially restricted view, are located in the Terrace levels.

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MAMMA MIA! THE PARTY has music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (some songs with Stig Anderson), and a story by Calle Norlén, Roine Söderlundh and Björn Ulvaeus, adapted for the UK by writer, comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig.

However, there are three things that could be improved.
1.) The queue. Arrive early as you will be waiting at least 30 minutes to get inside. Doors open at 18:30 (12:00 for daytime shows) but you definitely want to be seated sooner rather than later and before the food starts to arrive. Any later and you might miss the first course. Get there at 6 so you can be one of the first in, and then you can soak up the room before it fills up.
2.) The heat inside the venue. We were very warm the whole night and didn’t feel any air. It could be cooler in the venue – perhaps they can create a nice beach breeze to make the too a bit more bearable and comfortable temperature-wise.
3.) The food. We were a table of 4 and received the same portions of food as the single guy sitting at the next table (and he had the best seat in the house). If they can proportion the food according to the table size that would make much more sense.

These quibbles are valid quibbles, but they won’t ruin your night. And while the show is not cheap (prices from £130 to £218) you will get your money’s worth, whether or not you like/love ABBA. ‘You are my Dancing Queen…..’.

About the author: Tim Baros
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.