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Mamma Mia! The Musical

Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus

Director Gary Young

Musical Supervisor Stephen Amos

Choreographer Tom Hodgson

Lyric Theatre until July 30

Photo Credits David Hooley and James D. Morgan

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

mamma mia the musical

Twenty-four years after it first opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End, Mamma Mia! The Musical is still going strongly, with the latest version at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre.

The opening scene with the three girls indicates the target demographic for this theatrical work.

Donna has a taverna on a Greek island and her daughter Sophie is to be married there. Donna had relationships with three men within a year before Sophie’s birth. Sophie found their names in her mother’s old diary and decided to invite them all. Which one is Sophie’s biological father? Will he walk her down the isle?

The plot twists, each person’s emotional journey and general confusion are cues for some of the songs of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. There are twenty-two songs from the ABBA songbook.

mamma mia lyric theatre

This is a big production with seventeen in the Ensemble, eight in the band and thirteen in the main cast with Sarah Krndija as Sophie and Elise McCann as Donna doing much of the heavy lifting. They provide binding for the show.

There are no powerhouse singers in this cast. Nobody possesses a voice like Tina Turner, Celine Dion or Tom Jones and, thankfully, nobody has the singing talent of Pierce Brosnan. They’re more like normal, relatable people who can sing. In my opinion, two of the main players have been miscast, with the female performer being entirely against type.

mamma mia the musical sydney

Many have noted the plot similarity between Mamma Mia and the 1968 film Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, previously adapted as the 1979 musical Carmelina, which is also about a woman who doesn’t know which of three men is the father of her daughter, now a young woman. Some have even claimed that Mamma Mia is officially based on the 1968 film. Mamma Mia is set in Greece and not Italy, although Italy might have been a better fit with the musical's title. They probably didn’t want to make the comparison too obvious.

mamma mia the musical sydney

The ABBA songs are woven into the storyline. The only “wow” moment really comes with the two songs in the finale, and they lift the show by a factor of ten. You can probably guess which songs they are, and they have people standing and dancing and ensure that the audience leaves happy and humming.

mamma mia the musical


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