As ABBA’s digital sprites prepare to take to the stage tomorrow in London, Kenny Smith reviews Mamma Mia in Glasgow.
THERE will be few, if any, people in Great Britain today, who can’t name you a song by ABBA.
The group are undoubtedly a favourite of most people, no matter what kind of music they are into, with their influence having become steeped into every day modern popular culture. If you hear some strong piano chords, set to a fast beat, it’s guaranteed to bring back memories of the hits of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
It’s hard to believe that for a decade, between 1982 and 1992, ABBA were uncool. They weren’t a group that you would admit to liking, for fear of ridicular. And then, along came electro-pop duo Erasure, who released their EP ABBA-esque, putting a 90s slant on the hits of the 70s, headlined by Take A Chance On Me.
And then Steve Coogan’s spoof chatshow host Alan Partridge came along with his show Knowing Me, Knowing You, and people were talking about ABBA again, in a positive way. The release of their greatest hits album, ABBA Gold, confirmed what we all knew but were ashamed to admit – ABBA are one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, groups of all time.
From that rediscovery of ABBA came Mamma Mia!, a musical based on the songs of the supertroupers from Sweden.
Mamma Mia! is currently on tour, and has stopped off in Glasgow, and this was the first time I’d seen the stage production, although I am more than familiar with the big screen version with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and a host of other stars.
We meet Sophie Sheridan (Jena Pandya), who is about to get married, but having read her mum Donna (Sara Poyzer)’s diary, she has found there are three men who could be her dad – so she invites them to the wedding. Donna’s joined by her best friends Tanya (Helen Anker) and Rosie (Nicky Swift), having been a group in the seventies, Donna and the Diamonds, and then the three potential fathers arrive – Harry Bright (Daniel Crowder), Bill Austin (Phil Corbitt) and Sam Carmichael Richard Sanding).
The current touring production doesn’t contain any recognisable household stars, but that’s not a bad thing – the songs and the show speak for themselves. Their performances were all top-notch, but Jena Pandya was outstanding for me, with a crystal-clear voice that made the songs really come to life.
The live band are blisteringly good – songs like Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Lay All Your Love On Me, Does Your Mother Know and Voulex-Vous are brought to life with gusto by the cast, and the biggest challenge is reminding yourself not to singalong!
There’s laughs aplenty, especially in Does Your Mother Know, as the youthful Pepper (James Willoughby Moore) flirts with Tanya – his dance moves will definitely surprise you!
The production is cleverly brought to life with two sets which are rotated throughout – the interior and exterior of Donna’s bar. It’s smart, and very simple yet effective.
The show is brilliant fun for a family night or, or indeed, perfect for a hen night. It’s feel good, it’s fun, and it is unquestionable the production with the best soundtrack in the world EVER.
Once again, ABBA – thank you for the music.
Mamma Mia is at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday 11 June. Tickets are available from £13.00,
subject to a transaction fee of £2.85. For tickets click HERE.