It may be a frosty night in Melbourne with temperatures peaking to a humble eight degrees, but inside the Princess Theatre, it is hot, hot, hot.
If you scroll down your Instagram feed, you will certainly find at least half your friends in Europe on vacation right now. If the cold is getting to you and you are dreaming about an escape, this musical has the capacity to toe-tap you all the way to the Greek Islands. How can you resist?
A sandstone-looking set design draped in exotic vines encapsulates the stage while the overture is belting with clarity. It is a culture shock when you hear the cast members use a mixture of true Aussie or suave English accents, removing all exoticness. As Sophie (Sarah Morrison) sends the wedding invitations to her three unsuspected fathers, you can hear the audience clearing their throats for the ABBA karaoke session they are longing to have.
Natalie O’Donnell, portraying Donna Sheridan returns to the stage after playing the character of Donna’s daughter, Sophie, in the 2001 stage musical Mamma Mia! Her transition from daughter to mother is a natural and humorous one; O’Donnell still possesses the child-like quality as a mother figure particularly around her dynamos Tanya and Rosie. While Sophie—the more sensible of the two— is looking to be married at 20-years-old and have the world’s best love story. Vocality of both performers are sweet sounding, and carry the tune in similar ways to the movie rendition of Mamma Mia, rather than ABBA’s original sound. The three fathers Sam, Bill and Harry all steal the stage with their individual quirks and loveable natures, leaving you in fits of laughter.
Alicia Gardiner, Natalie O’Donnell, Jayde Westaby. Photo: James Morgan.
If you have watched the movie starring Meryl Streep, you will enjoy the symmetry between stage and screen. Audiences delight in the familiarity with the scenes and sing along to the famous hits.
A show-stopping number ‘Voulez Vous’ invites the whole cast on stage to dance and sing, while Tanya (Westaby) commands the stage with her exotic routine ‘Does Your Mother Know’. Tanya (Jayde Westaby) receives an extended applause for her commitment to hit on boys young enough to be her children, while lead ensemble male dancers hysterically boogie in flippers behind her.
Tom Hodgson’s choreography certainly has a contemporary ballroom twist, embracing lots of partner work and explosive moves. Dance scenes are not as frequent as expected, but the ensemble really demands the stage when needed.
Fans of the musical are looking for the same style as the movie, which is exactly what Gary Young brings. Everyone knows the script by heart and anticipate the line to come, but it is this kind of familiarity that makes this show fun to watch. Audiences may not be dancing in the isles as such, but the incessant toe-taps and the occasional shimmy are definitely in play.
Get your tickets before the season ends on September 30!
Starring in this brand new Australian production is an amazingly talented cast lead by Natalie O’Donnell as mother-of-the-bride Donna Sheridan and Sarah Morrison as Donna’s daughter and bride-to-be Sophie. Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby star as Donna’s best friends Rosie and Tanya. The 3 unsuspecting fathers are played by Ian Stenlake, Phillip Lowe and Josef Ber with Sophie’s adoring fiancé Sky played by Stephen Mahy.
The incredible supporting cast includes Monique Sallé, Jessica Di Costa, Sam Hooper, Alex Gibson-Giorgio, Stephen Anderson, Jadie Bastow, Dion Bilios, Du Toit Bredenkamp, Annie Chiswell, Matt Edwards, Josh Gates, Catty Hamilton, Matthew Hamilton, Emma Hawthorne, Zoe Komazec, Sarah Kate Landy, Courtney Monsma, Clay Roberts, Leigh Sleightholme, Thalia Smith, Lisa Sontag and Zachary Webster.