Published on October 7th, 2023 | by Andrew Bistak
MAMMA MIA! The Musical Review (Melbourne 2023) WOW…JUST WOW!
Summary: MAMMA MIA! The Musical is a brilliant rendition of this amazing classic musical!
The global musical phenomenon MAMMA MIA! The Musical returns to Melbourne Australia that is currently playing at The Princess Theatre to packed audiences.
MAMMA MIA! The Musical is an international musical blockbuster and for the uninitiated, the musical predates the hit film that starred the amazing Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfriend and Pierce Brosnan. While this production is reminiscent to the equally impressive 2017 Australian production, the 2023 re-staging is just as enjoyable and memorable with its cast and crew adding their own unique twist to the experience that will immediately you draw you into their stories. The musical also features 22 of ABBA’s greatest and timeless hits and best of all, the energy of cast is quite infectious as they bring these hits songs to life in some truly spectacular and moving ways, not to mention some of the best darn Broadway Jazz this side of the Southern hemisphere.
The premise behind MAMMA MIA! The Musical is quite a moving story that revolves around Sophie (Sarah Krndija) who is planning her wedding on the remote Greek Island where her once free loving mother Donna (Elise McCann) resides. Unfortunately for Sophie, she does not know who her father is and upon a chance discovery, she stumbles onto the diary of her mother that lists three potential fathers who are Sam (Martin Crewes), Harry (Drew Livingstone) and Bill (Tim Wright). Sophie then does the unthinkable and invites them all to this island in order to find out who her father is that causes a ripple with her fiancé Sky (Lewis Francis), not to mention bringing forgotten memories back to the forefront for her mother.
With secrets and truths revealed, the story is jam packed with vibrancy and emotion, plus some truly hilarious comedy courtesy of Donna’s two friends Tanya (Deone Zanotto) and Rosie (Bianca Bruce). The friendship they portray feels quite real and one of the songs led by Deone Zanotto had the entire audience cheering for this extraordinary performer. The other fantastic rendition was the return of their 20’s something band called Donna and Dynamos (Donna, Tanya and Rosie) as they worn their 70’s inspired jumpsuits and almost brought the house down with their wild version of Super Trouper.
I must admit that the casting behind MAMMA MIA! The Musical is faultless and each performer brings a uniqueness to their characters to stage that is different to those before them. However Geelong’s very own Sarah Krndija is definitely the star of the show whose powerful voice really does justice to the songs from ABBA which really draws you into her character of Sophie, not to mention pulling at your emotional heartstrings. Complementing her is Elise McCann as her mother Donna who successfully captures that interesting Bohemian mother daughter relationship and again channels the emotional turmoils of her character to the audience.
Then you have the the trio of fathers (Martin Crewes, Drew Livingstone, Tim Wright) that again, well cast and their onset chemistry is fantastic to see unfold as the story progresses. Further they add a warmness to their characters, including some laugh out moments that had the audience in hysterics. Martin Crewes also channeled his own inner Pierce Brosnan and had some very powerful scenes with his onstage family of Donna and Sophie. Great stuff!
Does Your Mother Know
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
I Have a Dream
Knowing me, Knowing you
Lay all your Love on me
Money, Money, Money
|One of Us
Slipping Through your Fingers
Take a Chance on Me
Thank you for the Music
The Name of the Game
The Winner Takes it All
The story of MAMMA MIA! The Musical is also a clever balance of drama, romance and comedy which makes the above songs work perfectly for each and every character. The more flamoyabant songs had many dancing in the seats, whereas the emotional ones such as The Winner Takes it All and Slipping Through My Fingers had many of the audience wiping tears away which is also why the music of ABBA will always be relevant in our society.
Complementing the main cast is the excellent ensemble (Chiara Assetta, Lily Baulderstone, Carlo Boumouglbay, Campbell Braithwaite, Emily Cascarino, Chelsea Dawson, Denise Devlin, Lauren Goetz, Matt Hamilton, Crystal Hegedis, Marie Ikonomou, Josh Mulheran, Bronson Pfeiler, Lewis Shilvock, Tom Struik, Riley Sutton, Carla Venezia and Geoffrey Winter) who all come together perfectly, including the spectacular choreography courtesy of choreographer Tom Hodgson with songs such as Voulez-vous, Dancing Queen and Chiquitita springing to life. Speaking of springing to life, Jordan Tomljenovic was a pure joy watch as Pepper, including his amazing acrobatic skills. Given that, there are way too many standout moments for the entire cast, particularly the stars themselves.
And the environment? Wow! As mentioned, the sets (Set Designer Linda Bewick) perfectly capture the Greek Island spirit from the taverna to the beach with the performers interacting well with them and more importantly it creates the illusion of Greece and when matched with the excellent lighting (Lighting Designer Gavan Swift), wow… it comes together very well. Last but not least are the colourful costumes that builds the illusion of island life from their colours to at times flamboyance thanks to Costume Designer Suzy Strout which all adds energy to this immersive musical, includiing parallels to the film.
Time to finish on a cliché! Unfortunately it is and from the vibe of the audience, everyone really enjoyed MAMMA MIA! The Musical from start to finish with huge smiles on faces. Sure it’s camp but the spectacular musical numbers with its live band plus the realstic sets and colourful costumes was just perfect. I’m sure the band ABBA would be impressed and best of all, the cast drew you into their stories hook, line and sinker (*) and you felt like you were part of something bigger. So yes, MAMMA MIA! The Musical is another must see show for 2023 but be quick because it’s playing until 3 December.
Oh the encore at the end is BRILLIANT!
(*) The Mermaid number is priceless!
MUSIC AND LYRICS
AND SOME SONGS WITH STIG ANDERSON
ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED BY
MAMMA MIA! WAS ORIGINALLY PRODUCED IN LONDON
BY JUDY CRAYMER, RICHARD EAST AND BJÖRN ULVAEUS
FOR LITTLESTAR IN ASSOCIATION WITH UNIVERSAL