Reviewed by Nina Chester
Magical is a term so often overused, but on this occasion, it fits perfectly. Our whole evening was pure magic.
The Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield is an amazing building that glowed in the snow, the rococo theatre’s lights shone out over Tudor Square, welcoming the patrons in at minus 5 degrees with falling snow. Heads down, people hurried, but once in the foyer, the welcome was as warm as the building, there was a buzz, I think it must have been like what war-time camaraderie felt like.
We settled into comfortable seats and listened to the usual announcements over the tannoy, please switch off your mobile phones, then a warning was given for patrons of a nervous disposition, that the following performance contained platform shoes and lycra, it set the tone perfectly for the evening’s entertainment; it was fun, feel good theatre at its best.
We open with Sophie (Lucy May Barker) standing outside a tavern, on a small Greek island, posting three letters to three men that her mother used to date, any one of whom could have potentially been her father, she has discovered her mother’s diary and takes it upon herself to invite all three men to her mother’s forthcoming wedding in three months’ time.
Three is a recurring theme for the complexity of the relationships, Sophie has two best friends, Ali and Lisa, her fiancé, strangely named Sky (Phillip Ryan), has two best friends, Pepper and Eddie.
Sophie’s mother, Donna Sheridan (Helen Hobson) welcomes her two best friends from her younger days, Tanya and Rosie, together they used to perform as a trio in the group, The Dynamos.
Then onto our final threesome, the old love interests of Donna, Harry, Bill and Sam.
Each set has its own unique agenda, all mix freely with each other, and nowhere better than when Tanya (Emma Clifford) was teasing Pepper (Louis Stockil) to the song, “Does your mother Know?” the sexual tension was palpable and the choreography was amazing, I don’t think I have ever seen a more able gymnast than Stockil.
The production quality was as slick as the performance. Staging, lighting and sound were all first class – no voice was stand-out, but only because they were all equally superb, Jon Boydon, playing Sam Carmichael was certainly better in every way, than Pierce Brosnan was in the film version of this world acclaimed musical.
The costumes, which changed so often, were perfect, and the change of Donna’s dress at the end of the musical was subtle and amazing.
A further source of entertainment for me was a member of the ensemble who played an old Greek villager, sat and crocheted as the musical continued, her work grew, as the performance continued, into some kind of yarn-based monstrosity and gave me an extra smile.
This is a story of love and acceptance, of friendship and family – told through twenty two Abba songs, from the poignant “Slipping through my fingers” to the vibrant “Voulez vous”. There is dialogue, but it’s the music and dance that moves the story along.
The entire audience were on their feet and dancing in the aisles, and the long, standing ovation was well deserved. The curtain came down and the audience melted on to the streets, only to remember that it was the coldest night of the year, and our Greek island was just a fantasy.
Mamma Mia! – the hottest show in Sheffield.
Tickets cost from £19.50 to £59.50 (booking fees may apply).
Mamma Mia! is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from 27 February to 17 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000