Review: Mamma Mia at the Theatre Royal

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Admittedly, Mamma Mia is a total cheese-fest. The smash hit musical by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus has ludicrous high notes, a sickly sweet romantic setting, perfect enunciation, and huge grins which make even our cheeks hurt. But the infectious, feel-good atmosphere in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on opening night is undeniable and even the dads ‘reluctantly dragged’ along can be caught bobbing their heads and singing along, getting steadily more enthusiastic as the show progresses. Whether they’re your guilty pleasure or if you’re a loud and proud fan, everybody loves a bit of ABBA.

The setting is a small island, a hidden gem, supposedly home to Aphrodite’s fountain of love, off the coast of Greece and the action opens with 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan sending wedding invitations to her three possible fathers.

After finding her mother’s diary and discovering her biological father could be one of three men from a hot, messy summer way back when, she decides she wants to get married knowing who her father and, more importantly, who she really is.

Featuring ABBA’s greatest hits including Dancing Queen, Super Trouper, Does Your Mother Know, Take a Chance on Me, Lay All Your Love on Me, I Have a Dream, Money, Money, Money, and countless more, the actors even give a nod to the crowd and there is an obligatory Glaswegian roar from the audience when they cast sing ‘I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow’.

With an impressive cast including the charismatic Helen Hobson as Donna Sheridan, the party-girl-turned-independent-mother who is secretly dying for someone to give her a man after midnight, and Lucy May Barker, whose trickling high notes would shatter glass, as the curious and mischievous Sophie.

Mamma Mia provides the audience with hearty, wholesome ABBA goodness and everyone comes out of the theatre giddy and on a high, with several ABBA classics being sang as people totter back to their cars or navigate their way to the train station after the ideal, boozy Christmas night out.

Jampacked with laughs, energetic choreography, 1970s glitz and glam, and infectious music from start to finish, Mamma Mia really does build to a satisfying crescendo.

Scoff and sniff at musical theatre if you must, but you would be hard pushed to find anyone who could go along to Mamma Mia and not end up singing or at least humming the tune to Waterloo all the way home.

Mamma Mia is at the Theatre Royal until 30th December.

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