What a crazy week I have had. No sooner did I return from my weekend in London at West End Live, but I logged on to Twitter to find a message on Monday from Superbreak telling me that I had won a pair of tickets to see Mamma Mia! and could I still go – the tickets were for two days time.
After running around checking that my friend could get time off work, that transport arrangements were do-able and that somebody would be able to sort my horse out for me on Wednesday night I was finally able to confirm that yes, we could go and that we were very much looking forward to it. I really didn’t want to have to turn down a trip to the theatre, especially a free one.
We made it successfully to London and got to the theatre in plenty of time. Outside we met a representative from Superbreak who gave us the tickets. They were well organised, they had all of the tickets in separate envelopes all labelled up with names and where they were won. I was impressed with this system and when we got in we also had excellent seats – facing absolutely centre stage in the dress circle, a perfect view.
Of course, we knew that we were about to see a musical about ABBA, but if we hadn’t known the sort of show we were about to see then it was made very evident by the announcement regarding turning off all phones and the forbidding of any recordings – this was immediately followed (by the same announcer) with a warning that “those of a nervous disposition should be warned that this performance contains platform shoes and white lycra”. This was the first of many smiles through the evening and of course, we had gone with the expectation of a cheesy, party atmosphere.
We were not disappointed. Although at first it seemed more ‘acted’ than some shows (for example Les Miserables – the audience knows they are acted but the production feels totally real), it was soon forgotten about and it set the tone of the musical rather nicely. I happen to rather like it when people spontaneously burst into song, whatever their reason, and this was absolutely one of those productions. The story was a little far fetched but the songs were put in in such an order that you could see absolutely why they were situated where they were.
Emma Crossley played Sophie Sheridan who lived in Greece with her mother Donna (Dianne Pilkington), who had raised her by herself. Sophie decided she wanted to know who her father was as she was soon to be married to Sky (Oliver Tilney), so looked through her mothers old diaries in order to gain some knowledge. As it turned out there were a possible three fathers – Sam Carmichael (Richard Trinder), Bill Austin (James Gaddas) and Harry Bright (Neil Roberts).
After she contacted them, all three decided to turn up after thinking they had been contacted by Donna to come to her daughters wedding. Of course, Donna knew nothing about this and was horrified to see all of them (in fact she was horrified to see any of them) all together in her taverna. This led to a number of hilarious scenes of them all trying to work out why they were there, trying to claim Sophie as their own despite knowing nothing about her prior to receiving their letters and Donna attempting to avoid them whilst reliving the time she had spent with each of them 21 years previously. Pilkington was fantastic as Donna, I couldn’t fault her performance at all as she was really strong both vocally and in her acting.
My favourite character was Tanya (Kim Ismay). One of Donna’s two best friends who she had been in a pop group with 20 years ago, Tanya is a wealthy and attractive, single (after multiple divorces), ‘older’ woman. Her interactions with Sky’s young friends are positively hilarious, most notably the flirting with Pepper (Dickie Wood). I have to say that there was some serious eye candy on that stage, it has been a while since I have seen such good torsos strutting their stuff and they added additional humour to proceedings. Donna’s other best friend and ex group member was Rosie (Jane Milligan) and she too was a great character – the three of them together were just brilliant.
All sorts of twists and turns unfolded during the course of the evening but every single song was an ABBA classic – ‘I Have A Dream’, ‘Thank You For The Music’, ‘Voulez Vous’, ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’ (which I think was my favourite scene of the whole show) and of course ‘Dancing Queen’. It was very difficult at times to stay in our seats, all the tunes just made us want to get up and dance.
The finale allowed everyone to do just that and people certainly took advantage of it. Despite the seemingly large proportion of older audience members, everyone had a huge grin on their face and was singing, clapping and dancing along as both men and women appeared in some, erm, tasteful lycra catsuits complete with silver platform boots. A brilliant end to a fun evening. If you go to see something involving ABBA, you just know that you will have a good time – and most likely know all of the words – and it is easy to see why Mamma Mia! has been delighting audiences for 14 years.
A huge thank you again to Superbreak for providing the tickets – those who know me will know that theatre tickets are one of the best prizes I could win and I know it made my friend Jessica’s week too. Also thanks to them for the excellent service, everything was made very easy and ran smoothly; we couldn’t have asked for more pleasant people or a more simple collection.