A blog raveled in randomness
I watched a musical last night with my family that was ABBA-tastic! The Novello Theatre was filled with people dancing on their feet, clapping and waving their hands singing along to the famous hits of ABBA. Even if you are not a great English speaker like my mom, you will still be captured by the musical due to their lively singing and dancing performances, comedic gestures both small and grand and the colorful stage lightings complementing the fabulous ‘dancing-mode’ costumes. Watching a musical at night definitely had a different atmosphere (compared to the afternoon ones) because the audience was so energetic that it formed a unbreakable force field between the performers and the audience. Amidst this mustering atmosphere, you transform from a passive watcher to a singer/dancer who is at the heart of the Greek island!
The musical is about a 20 year old woman Sophie (Charlotte Wakefield) who sends three invitation letters to her wedding with Sky (Andreas Gyllander). The three letters were sent to three men, Sam (Gary Milner), Bill (James Gaddas) and Harry (Neil Roberts), because she believes that one of them could be her father based on the diary of her mother Donna (Helen Hobson). Without her mom knowing, Sophie sends the letters and succeeds in bringing her possible-father candidates at the taverna, which Donna owns. As confusiona and anger hits Donna, her friends Tanya (Kim Ismay) and Rosie (Joanna Monro) try to reassure Donna that things will turn out right. While Donna tries to ignore her past boyfriends, the three different men start to get a hunch at why they were being called to a wedding of Donna’s daughter… (See the London Cast for bibliographies)
As I said before, this night performance of ‘Mamma Mia’ made me feel like I was in a concert of ABBA. From the hilarious and unexpected sexual context in musical number ‘Honey, Honey’ to perfect sing-along encore performances of ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Waterloo’, the musical was a perfect embodiment of celebrating a legendary band whose music is (and will be) an everlasting hymn for many people. As always in most of my musical performance reviews, I struggle to write only a few moments of this ABBA-tastic musical for this blog post so here it goes. The moment when I felt comfortable singing along with the performers and the majority of the audience was when the piano started to play the intro of ‘Money, Money, Money’. This was a song I sang everyday when I was in elementary school, so I could not help but sing along with half of the audience and the performers. The feel of the music was altered a bit by adding a musical flare to the pop song, but it still held the pure originality of the famous song throughout the performance. ‘The Name of the Game’ was beautifully sung by Sophie and Bill and at the end of Act I, the ensemble sang ‘Voulez-Vous’ with flashing lights and dynamic movements that were not shown before. It was a great outro to Act I, making me anticipate for the second half of the musical–which was not a let down!
The highlight of Act II for me was when Donna talked with each of her ex-boyfriends Harry, Sam and Bill. ‘S.O.S.’ sung by Sam and Donna–I am not going to lie–had an eerie feeling just because the people in front of me were singing and happily clapping to the song while the performers were acting out a heartbroken scene. ‘Our Last Summer’ sung by Harry and Donna was a beautiful calm scene where the couple reminisced their romantic past. Small reenactments of their date in Donna’s room made me smile because despite that Donna did not want to do anything with the three men, there were still happy moments in her past that she wanted to look back. The the musical number ‘The Winner Takes It All’ sung by Donna to Bill was heartbreaking for me. From what I remember, there was not fancy lighting but a simple design that showed the performer’s expressions in raw texture on stage. Except for the beginning and ending of each act (and also the encore performances), this production did not use as much fancy designs and lightings compared to musicals such as ‘Wicked’ but the simple design made a clear difference between dream and reality for the audience. Though the story might be unrealistic, the creative staff has done well in bringing the production to a celebatory dream-like mood whilst staying on realistic ground. This is a fun musical for all ABBA lovers or any music lovers because you do not only watch the talented cast sing and dance with such great energy but also particpate in your seats by singing along to all the wonderful music!
Mamma Mia website: http://www.mamma-mia.com