Reviewed by Katy Hart
What an ABBA-solutely fun filled night we had last evening at the New Theatre in Oxford watching the musical, Mamma Mia!
Parking in Oxford can be difficult, however we arrived early and parked on Beaumont Street for £3 for the evening. It was only a five-minute walk away, and although a cold evening outside, a warm welcome awaited us inside the theatre. As we were early we relaxed in the piano bar with a drink before taking our seats in a full house to watch this smash hit musical featuring so many of the songs of ABBA.
We were seated in the Circle, and had a fantastic view of the stage. As the seats are tiered, I didn’t have to worry about my son not being able to see over the person in front of us.
The musical is based on the book by Catherine Johnson and is set on a Greek island on the eve of Sophie’s wedding to Sky. Sophie lives with her single parent mother, Donna, in the small hotel she runs on the island. Unbeknown to Donna, Sophie has discovered her old diary and upon reading it has learned about three young men that Donna had had a relationship with – any of whom could be her father. Sophie sends a wedding invitation to each of these men as she hopes that upon meeting them she would ‘know’ the identity of her father. The three men arrive on the island each believing that Donna had invited them. As they discover that the invitation was from Sophie, the penny drops and they realise that they may be her father. This simple storyline is the basis for this energetic and fun musical.
It features ABBA songs which are very cleverly integrated quite seamlessly into the story. The combination of songs, energetic dance routines, platform boots and Lycra costumes create an incredibly fun evening of pleasure and entertainment. The audience erupted into spontaneous applause as Rosie (Gillian Hardie) burst into song with ‘Take a Chance on Me’, and yet there was a silence as Donna sang the beautiful ‘Slipping Through my Fingers’.
Donna, in last evenings, performance was played by Kay Milbourne, and she absolutely stole the show with her incredible vocals. Her energy and enthusiasm so evident in her performance. She is joined by her two old friends Rosie and Tanya, who have come as guests to the wedding. The chemistry between this trio is such fun to watch and they deliver great vocals too as they take to the stage again and relive their youth.
For me there were two other stars of the show. Sam Carmichael, one of the three possible fathers, was played by Jon Boydon – he too delivered a most powerful performance and his vocal range and ability was outstanding. Also, Sophie, played by Lucy May Barker was absolutely mesmerising, her stage presence and vocal ability also were worthy of a West End stage.
If you love the music of ABBA, and you’re looking for a ‘feel good’ show, then this will not disappoint. It does not try to be anything other than fantastic entertainment and it is because of this that it is such a huge success.
It includes the musical numbers ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Super Trouper’, ‘Honey Honey’, ‘I have a Dream’, ‘Our Last Summer’, ‘Thank you for the Music’, and many many more.
The finale includes a 1970’s, brightly coloured, spectacular sing along – be prepared to get up out of your seats and sing and dance along to a medley of your favourites.
A F-ABBA-lous evening’s entertainment where you can’t help but have the time of your life, I would thoroughly recommend joining the party while it is in Oxford.
Tickets cost from £17.50 to £68.50 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Mamma Mia! is at the New Theatre in Oxford from 14-25 November 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/oxford or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020