The first time I saw Mamma Mia! I really hated it. It was cheesy, the songs were all musical-ified and the plotline was just too ridiculous to get on board with.
But sitting at the Alhambra Theatre and watching the show again, I find myself an absolute convert. The show follows a young bride Sophie as she hunts down her three possible fathers. It’s absolutely beyond ludicrous that the three men don’t twig they could all be a possible dad and even Donna, Sophie’s mum, doesn’t realise that her daughter’s invited the three mysterious strangers that just happen to show up exactly as the wrong time. But it’s a plot “twist” that’s handled with humour and a lighthearted “yes, we know it’s unrealistic but…” tone in this production.
In fact, the whole thing is just a jolly good laugh. It’s a production that doesn’t take itself too seriously and this is a total breath of fresh air. Emma Mullen is mesmerising as Sophie. Her aunts played by Helen Anker and Nicky Swift are hilarious and really command the humour throughout. Sharon Sexton as Donna is on the whole very good but does overblow some of her more serious numbers which isn’t always necessary.
The three potential dads are good, too, particularly Daniel Crowder as Harry. Rob Fowler as Donna’s main love interest Sam Carmichael is no Pierce Brosnan and seems quite unsure of himself in the role. He’s a good actor and a strong singer, but this role requires more inherent joy and charisma which Fowler doesn’t really have.
All in all, though, it’s a cracking show. It’s directed beautifully by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed with a similar whimsical humour by Anthony Van Laast. Be transported to a Greek island of loveliness and bask in the glory of all of ABBA’s very best hits.
Catch Mamma Mia! at Bradford Alhambra until 23rd November.