MAMMA MIA review LEEDS GRAND

Written by  //  June 1, 2017  //  Yorkshire Theatre  //  No comments

mamma mia review leeds grand theatre

Mamma Mia!

Review – May 2017

Leeds Grand Theatre

by Sandra Callard

What more can anyone say about Mamma Mia!? Written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of the ultimate pop band ABBA, with songs that everybody knows, sings to, dances to and loves. It is a stage and film phenomenon that has set the cash registers ringing for years, and has become almost sacred in the adoration that the world has thrown at it.

Is it actually so very good, or has it grown so big that we are conditioned into joyful acceptance before we actually see it? I go along calmly and curiously to a performance of the latest tour of the show, and meet full on excitement in a crowded theatre of smiling people. They seem to know they are in for the night of their lives.

The music starts, feet start to tap, heads start to bob, and we are away! We transport to a Greek island, we feel the sunshine and the easy way of life. Donna, played brilliantly by Helen Hobson, is arranging the wedding of her daughter, Sophie, played by Lucy May Barker. Barker is tall, slim and pretty, but seems older than the 20-year-old Sophie should be, and her voice, though strong and vibrant, is spectacularly shrill and ear splitting.

mamma mia review leeds grand theatre jumping

“All about the music”

Her beau, the extremely handsome and athletic Sky, is played with all the necessary sexual charisma of a Greek god, even though he speaks with a distinct Scottish accent. Then the old friends of Donna arrive, part of her long-ago girl band.

Gillian Hardie, playing Rosie, and Emma Clifford playing Tanya, are crackingly good. Tanya is sexy and targets young men on the beach, whilst Rosie is morphing into middle age, and is very, very funny. Enter the three possible fathers of young Sophie. Donna obviously had a very good and busy time twenty years ago, and Sophie has read mum’s diary and realises that any one of the three could be her father. She writes to them, inviting them to the wedding as she wants her real father to give her away at her wedding.

I cannot say that I should not disclose the ending because surely everyone has seen the musical on stage or seen the film. So no doubt you all know what happens, but the ending is almost superfluous. This show is all about the music. Ever since Swedes ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with ‘Waterloo’, their immortality was assured.

mamma mia review leeds grand

“You will sing the songs for days”

Even though most of the above is strictly tongue-in-cheek, the reality is that this is a fantastic, beautifully choreographed, in-your-face musical. It shouts at you to listen to some of the most iconic popular music that was ever written.

I have to say that the young girl in the seat in front of me, who I do not know, actually turns round after the finale and hugs me. If you are one of the very few people in Great Britain who has never seen this show, remedy this immediately. You will sing the songs for days, you will smile continually, and you will love your mother-in-law. Just do it!

Photos by Brinkhoff M+Âgenburg

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