Those of a nervous disposition at the Hull New Theatre on Wednesday evening were warned, just before curtain up, that platform shoes and white satin trousers would be much in evidence on the stage, as feel-good musical Mamma Mia! came to town.
Talented musicians got a packed theatre into the right mood, pre-show, by playing several of Abba’s hits, the Swedish super-group whose music is the backbone of this energetic production. As the curtain rose, we were all eager to hear the words “I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do”.
Set on a beautiful Greek island, Mamma Mia! tells the story of taverna owner Donna Sheridan (Sara Poyzer), her 20-year-old daughter Sophie (Jena Pandya), and Sophie’s upcoming marriage to Sky (Toby Miles), to be held on the island.
Sophie intrigued all of her life by her mother’s wistful tales of the shenanigans she had on the island decades earlier, with three boyfriends, decides to invite all of them to her wedding after secretly reading about them in her mother’s diary.
Reasoning that one of them must be her father, Sophie gets the shock of her life when all three turn up on the island – but no-one is more shocked than Donna.
The three – Harry Bright (Daniel Crowder), Bill Austin (Phil Corbitt) and Sam Carmichael (Richard Standing), soon twig on the reason for their out-of-the-blue wedding invitations, believing Donna had sent them, but eventually finding out the truth when Sophie spills the beans.
Donna’s two best friends – Tanya (Helen Anker) and Rosie (Nicky Swift) – do their best to console the distraught Donna. Their friend might have been distraught, but these two had us in the audience in stitches throughout.
To cut a long, very entertaining story short, a wedding does take place. But who marries who?
Abba’s hits were obviously going to be the stars of the show, but you know what, I will give the amazing cast equal star billing with the songs, as they all sang them with tuneful, clear voices, as well as acting and dancing brilliantly.
And I must mention the sound engineers who got the decibel levels just right on the night.
The colourful, often very amusing and sometimes rude antics of everyone in this superb cast ensured the stage setting could be quite simple, but that fact didn’t in any way detract from our enjoyment.
The whole amazing spectacle was steeped in Abba’s hits – 22 songs in all, including Chiquitita, Dancing Queen, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, S.O.S., Super Trouper, Voulez-Vous, The Winner Takes It All, Knowing You, Knowing Me, not forgetting the title song Mamma Mia! to name just a few.
The finale saw Sophie’s three “dads” and Donna, Rosie and Tanya all resplendent in eyeball-melting, garish satin costumes and platform boots, 70s Abba style, singing and dancing their hearts out, aided and abetted by a youthful, energetic ensemble.
They didn’t seem to want to leave the stage and our standing ovation ensured they remained there for a while longer.
What a tonic! I couldn’t fault a thing.
Running until Saturday, February 19th, 2022, 7.30pm nightly with 2,30pm matinees on Thursday, February 10th; Wednesday, February 16th; Thursday, February 17th and Saturday, February 19th.
Tickets from £19. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 9th February 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★