Mamma Mia! The Musical Review @ Adelaide Festival Centre

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Image © James Morgan Image © James Morgan

Dancing queens, it’s time to kick up your heels and say 'I Do' as the party of the century – ‘Mamma Mia! The Musical’ arrives in Adelaide.

Set on a Greek island and featuring 22 of ABBA’s best-known hits ‘Mamma Mia!’ brilliantly combines high energy dance routines with explosions of colour to tell the heart-warming story of one young woman’s search for family and identity.

Directed by Gary Young ‘Mamma Mia!’ stars Sarah Morrison as Sophie, a young bride-to-be whose search for her father’s identity brings chaos and joy to her life. With a powerful voice that defies her petite stature, Sarah’s youthful performance brilliantly captures Sophie’s passion and vulnerability. Natalie O’Donnell returns to ‘Mamma Mia!’(Having played Sophie in the 2001 Australian tour) – this time delivering a hilariously enjoyable performance as Sophie’s frazzled mother Donna and there are plenty of laughs to be found when she takes to the stage with Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby (who play Donna’s lifelong friends Tanya and Rosie). Josef Ber is hilarious as Donna’s former flame and wild adventurer Bill Austin while Phillip Lowe is adorably awkward as Harry Bright. Ian Stenlake completes the trio of old boyfriends as Sam Carmichael and the three men have a natural chemistry with Natalie which makes their characters' complicated romantic histories more believable.

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Image © James Morgan

An authentic-looking white stoned villa transports the audience to the heart of a Greek island and as the show continues, this seemingly simple set design transforms into a beautifully detailed, versatile setting which makes full use of the stage. Small sections of scenery dangle from the ceiling on retractable wires (allowing for quick scenery changes) and their appearance, combined with a myriad of colourful costumes and a few simple props completely changes the look of the stage. A fold-out wall on the villa’s exterior allows the cast to take the audience inside their private retreats for a more personal look at their favourite characters.

The talented cast are clearly relishing their roles; enthusiastically taking to the stage in a rainbow of vibrant costumes – from brightly coloured Hawaiian shirts to glittering formal wear (and of course no ABBA inspired musical would be complete without brightly coloured puffy sleeves and bell bottom pants) and with so much colour bombarding your senses it’s hard not be swept up in the fun and excitement of this feel-good musical. Each new song is accompanied by a fun-filled (often fast-paced) dance routine which has been tightly choreographed to allow the large cast to make full use of the often crowded stage.

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Image © James Morgan

One of my personal favourites is the inventive routine accompanying Sophie and Sky’s beachside duet 'Lay All Your Love On Me', and I applaud the young men who were able to dance so brilliantly in swimmers flippers.

If, like me you are new to the musical but a huge fan of the 2008 movie starring Amanda Seyfried I must stress the importance of letting go of all preconceived notions about characters and plot as the musical (which was wowing audiences long before the movie graced our screens) is a vastly different retelling of this wonderful story, and it cannot be fully appreciated if you are drawing comparisons between stage and screen.

With its comedy-centred script, toe-tapping renditions of ABBA favourites and energetic routines ‘Mamma Mia!’ is a fun-filled night out suitable for all ages.



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