Theatre Review: MAMMA MIA! – Palace Theatre Manchester

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour. Photo: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Cleverly told through the timeless songs of ABBA, MAMMA MIA! is a fabulous, funny, feel-good musical that will warm the heart

With MAMMA MIA 2 heading to cinemas later this month and Abba’s recent announcement of their first new material in 35 years, there couldn’t be a better time for musical MAMMA MIA! to head out on a UK tour.

Since its opening at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1999, the hit musical has been seen by over 54 million people worldwide making it one of the most successful and recognisable musical titles of all time. And while the show may be fast approaching its twentieth birthday, it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Set on a beautiful Greek island, MAMMA MIA! tells the story of the newly engaged Sophie who is determined to find out the identity of her father and invite him to her wedding. Her quest brings her mother Donna face to face with three men from her distant romantic past who all arrive on the eve of Sophie’s wedding to talk her down the aisle. The only question is, which one of the three very different men is her Dad?

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour.

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour. Photo: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Cleverly told through the timeless songs of ABBA, MAMMA MIA! is a fabulous, funny, feel-good musical that will warm the heart of even the hardest of cynics. Packed full of humour, energy and sass, this massively uplifting musical cleverly balances drama with comedy, while Anthony Van Laast’s fresh and vigorous choreography, particularly in GIMME! GIMME! GIMME!, DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW? and VOULEZ VOUZ? bursts with energy and happiness.

Shona White is a delight as Donna, playing the role with a perfect combination of emotion and humour. Her scenes with her two best friends, Rosie (Nicky Swift) and Tanya (Helen Anker), are hilarious to watch and her relationship with Lucy May Barker’s Sophie – who brings a beautiful innocence to the stage – is touching.

A special mention also should go to the three men playing Sophie’s possible fathers – Tamlyn Henderson (Sam), Daniel Crowder (Harry) and Matthew Rutherford (Bill) – all of whom bring a different personality to the stage, joining the rest of the cast in balancing the tricky tightrope between drama and humour.

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour.

The cast of MAMMA MIA UK Tour. Photo: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

But, of course, the real star of this show is the music with songs such as THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC, HONEY HONEY, DANCING QUEEN, SOS, KNOWING ME KNOWING YOU, MONEY MONEY MONEY and of course, the show-stopper finale MAMMA MIA, all having the audience on their feet dancing, singing and clapping along.

Anyone familiar with jukebox musicals will know that the plot can sometimes be spread a little thin to allow the story to be framed around the music yet while Catherine Johnson’s wacky storyline is never going to win any literary awards, it successfully manages to keep you guessing throughout and stir up the emotions.

Add in the beloved music of ABBA, plenty of tongue in cheek humour and the sunny Greek setting and MAMMA MIA! becomes an irresistibly funny show which is sure to win you over.

(4 / 5)

MAMMA MIA runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 14 July 2018.

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1