Review: Mamma Mia at Venue Cymru

Reporter:

Suzanne Kendrick

MAMMA Mia, here I go again, my my, how can I resist you?

The simple truth is - I can't!

Mamma Mia! Opened tenderly at Venue Cymru last night (Wednesday) with Sophie Sheridan (Lucy May Barker) in the spotlight, as she posted letters to her three possible dads, but ended with the whole company and the entire audience on their feet as lead character Donna Sheridan (Helen Hobson) asked Llandudno - "do you want more?' Before treating crowds to a finale of singalong songs including Waterloo and Dancing Queen.

The first UK tour of the feel-good musical, produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East and Abba's Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal and NGM, arrived at the Llandudno theatre on Tuesday, January 9 and will run until Saturday (January 14).

With timeless songs by Bjorn Ulvaeus and his Abba songwriting partner Benny Andersson, the smash-hit musical is cosy and exciting, more than a little mischievous and naughty!

Mamma Mia! explores the timeless themes of love, friendship and loss. Based on the book by Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia! uses the music of Abba to tell the story of Sophie, 20, who is attempting to uncover the identity of her real father so he can accompany her down the aisle at her wedding.

Sophie's quest to discover the truth brings three men - Sam Carmichael (Jon Boydon), Bill Austin (Christopher Hollis) and Harry Bright (Jamie Hogarth) - from her mother's past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years ago, where Sophie and her mother live.

As they spend time at the island, Donna's tempestuous past is revealed. Donna, wanting to shut out a 'messy' summer gone by, is surprised to find out that her 'love' did come back for her while Sophie makes a decision after coming to terms with who she really is.

Stand out performances came from Hobson as well as Barker and Phillip Ryan, who played Sophie's fiancé Sky. The chemistry between the young actors was so natural, you could have believed the couple were an item off stage.

Emma Clifford was hilarious as Donna's effervescent and flirty best friend and former bandmate Tanya and had the theatregoers in fits of giggles as she teased Sky's best friend Pepper (Louis Stockil) as he tried to woo her. Rosie (Gillian Hardie) was equally brilliant as Donna's other best friend, and had the audience in raptures as she performed her rendition of Take A Chance on Me with Bill.

This performance took the audience on a real journey. The simple setting, of a small island, is beautifully achieved and Hobson's voice is superb. She belts out song after song, each with the emotion and vulnerability required.

All the 'dads' have outstanding voices - there is not one poor voice (definitely no flashbacks to former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan attempting to sing in the film!).

A personal highlight for me was a performance of the song Lay all your love on me - a favourite of mine. The performance of it on stage was incredible. Sophie and Sky gave it their all while Sky's friends danced in flippers and donned purple wet suits as they prepared for their friend's stag do.

Take a chance on Mamma Mia! You won't regret it. I could watch it again in a heartbeat. Visit www.venuecymru.co.uk or by calling 01492 872000.

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