Sunny show bounces along with ABBA tunes

At a Mamma Mia! rehearsal, from left, Alexia Clark, Steve Jenkins, Amy Hunt, Gary Clark, Val Andrew, Ben Jones, Katte ...
Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ

At a Mamma Mia! rehearsal, from left, Alexia Clark, Steve Jenkins, Amy Hunt, Gary Clark, Val Andrew, Ben Jones, Katte Johnston and Michael Doody.

 

"What a night!" quotes Sophie, the young bride-to-be in Mamma Mia!, as she reads her mother's 21-year-old diary, wondering who her unknown father might be.

"What a night!" could also describe last Friday night's Palmerston North premiere of this ABBA-inspired musical.

Guest director Grant Meese, guest choreographer Teesh Szabo, and musical director Barry Jones have delivered a vibrant, effortless-looking production that pulls out all the stops for maximum audience enjoyment. With its sunshine-drenched Greek island setting, it's also a welcome break from the winter cold outside.

There are great moments and quirky performances, but the 23 famous ABBA songs are the ultimate stars of the show, and the storyline fully exploits the poignancy of these deceptively simple, bouncy tunes. As Donna, Sophie's feisty single mother, Val Andrew is a standout heroine, her voice strong and true in any key. Sophie (Alexia Clark) Sky, her fiance ( Michael Doody) and the three possible dads (Gary Clark, Steve Jenkins and Ben Jones) hold their own, and Donna's pals Rosie (Katte Johnston) and Tanya (Amy Hunt) chew up the scenery with gusto. Minor vocal inadequacies among some of the cast are made up for in presentation and verve, and the chorus numbers – including the boys' Lay All Your Love on Me number – are a joy.

The fizzy finale had many of the audience up on their feet, singing and dancing along.  

A great many hardworking people made this milestone Abbey show happen.

Thank you for the music, indeed.

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 - Manawatu Standard

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