Where? QPAC’s Lyric Theatre
When? Until February 4, 2018
…here we go again! Following a sold-out national premiere season in Canberra, the party of the year is happening now at QPAC as Mamma Mia hits the stage, and you’re invited.
Be transported to Donna Sheridan’s whitewashed, bougainvillea-draped taverna on a serene Greek island…with the serenity interrupted by the impending wedding of her only daughter, Sophie (Sarah Morrison) to adoring fiancé Sky (Stephen Mahy). Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has invited the three men who may be her father – intrepid explorer and writer Bill (Josef Ber), headbanger-turned-banker Harry (Philip Lowe) and charismatic architect Sam (Ian Stenlake). As friends begin pouring onto the island and the day of the wedding dawns, Sophie struggles to uncover the identity of her father, and learns a few things about herself and her mother along the way.
Produced by Michael Coppel, Louise Withers, and Linda Bewick, this new Australian production, based on Catherine Johnson’s heartwarming tale and the magical music of ABBA, is directed by Helpmann Award winner Gary Young. Tom Hodgson’s high-energy choreography was fantastic, and costume design by Suzy Strout was dazzling. Lighting design by Gavan Swift and sound design by Michael Waters transported the audience from lazy Greek island days to disco party nights.
The party atmosphere was incredible and infectious – I’ve never seen such a large portion of an audience on their feet and dancing. I saw and heard the people around me singing along to the 22 ABBA hits featured in the show and the entire night just had a wonderful, warm energy.
Natalie O’Donnell was positively dynamic as fiery, exasperated, playful, warm Donna Sheridan, and Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby were utterly fabulous as her best friends and backup dancers, Rosie and Tanya. Sarah Morrison was perfect as sweet, naïve Sophie, and had powerful vocals to back it up. Ian Stenlake’s performance as Sam started out a little wooden in Act 1 but improved enormously, and in general all three fathers-of-the-bride (Josef Ber, Philip Lowe, Ian Stenlake) gave emotive and authentic performances. Pepper (Sam Hooper) and Eddie (Alex Gibson-Giorgio) were a dynamic duo, and Hooper certainly stood out in his comedic role.
The supporting cast also did an exceptional job – the relatively small cast filled the Lyric Theatre stage with energy and excitement, and the incredible taverna set designed by Linda Bewick did the rest. Also, to the cast members who danced in flippers - I was in awe. Five gold stars.
Purely and simply joyful, Mamma Mia is a celebration of love, friendship and family. Start your year right with this feel-good musical – tickets are available through QPAC and QTix. Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes!