Theatre Review: Mamma Mia!

How can you resist this “Mamma Mia!”

Presented by Northern Light Theatre Company
Reviewed 9th April 2021

The jukebox musical Mamma Mia! needs little introduction. Written in 1999 by Catherine Johnson, it tells the story of Sophie Sheridan and her mother Donna in the days leading up to Sophie’s wedding, and her attempts to discover which of the three men she has discovered in her mother’s past is her father. Using the music of ABBA this sets the scene for a lively and entertaining story.

Northern Light are no strangers to complex musicals and their professionalism shows from the very start. The impressive set immediately transports the audience to the sun-dappled Greek isles. Over the course of the evening the simple walls and doors are used to show both interior and exterior in an extremely clever and effective way.

From the outset Alana Shepherdson shines as Sophie, both in her acting and singing, while Robyn Brookes backs her up well as Donna. Indeed, Brookes brings the house down in the second act with her solo rendition of The Winner Takes It All, a difficult song she pulls off brilliantly. The addition of strait-laced Gavin Cianci, Angus Smith and Ben Kempster as the three potential fathers brings the action down to earth nicely. Michelle Davy and Paula Cooney make a superb comic double-act as Donna’s old friends (and former backing band).

The cast showed a tendency to sing towards the flat end of the scale, however this may have been opening night nerves. Similarly, the young men of the cast should have more confidence in their voices, as some of their singing was faint and at times seemed rushed.

The ensemble does a wonderful job as chorus and dancers, popping up unexpectedly to great comic effect. However, during the big numbers, the stage, though not small, seemed crowded.

These are only minor quibbles. In a show like this attitude and energy is all, and the cast admirably give their all, building to a wonderful finale with good singing, fine choreography and some costumes that need to be seen to be believed. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by D C White

Venue:  Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth
Season:  April 9 – May 1 (singalong show on 29April)
Duration: 2.5 hours
Tickets:  $35
Bookings:  www.northernlight.org.au

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