Thoughts on Mamma Mia! The Musical

What: Mamma Mia! The Musical
Where: The Princess Theatre, Melbourne

Performances run until 30 September, 2018
For more information, please visit

My earliest memories of ABBA’s music comes from my sister. I remember her blasting the 2008 Mamma Mia! film over and over and over again in the bedroom next door to wits end! That much ABBA, as you can imagine, is enough to drive a girl crazy (granted, if I could see the movie, perhaps my experiences would be different).

But whether you’re a lover or hater of the music, it’s familiar to most of us. The production boasts 22 of ABBA’s greatest hits including Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, I Have A Dream, The Winner Takes It All and S.O.S. to name a few. And, even for me, it was difficult to remain seated during the toe-tapping, sing-a-long encore of Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and Waterloo. Although this ending will come as no surprise to those familiar with the movie of the same name, seeing the central male love interests don sparkling jumpsuits was my personal highlight.

Although, does it remind anyone else of The Brady Bunch Movie performance, released four years prior to Mamma Mia making its musical debut?

Set on fictional Greek island of Kalokairi, the story focuses on Sophie’s upcoming wedding to her fiancé, Sky, and her desire to have her father walk her down the aisle. After snooping through her mother Donna’s old diaries, she invites her three potential fathers – Sam Carmichael (Ian Stenlake); Australian writer, Bill Austin (Josef Ber); and English banker, Harry Bright (Phillip Lowe) – to her wedding.

In a musical with a strong focus on female friendships, there was a sizeable male audience like I’ve never seen before – proving why, as of 2018, it’s the seventh longest-running show on London’s West End, and the ninth longest-running show in New York’s Broadway history.

It’s clever timing of the music with the release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in cinemas now. No doubt the musical will bring numbers into the cinema, just as the movie will do the same for the theatre – and leave fans wanting and wishing a theatre sequel is on its way too.

Sarah Morrison is adorable as Sophie and complements the down-to-Earth charm of Stephen Mahy (Sky). The young actors natural trust and connection is palpable on stage, and allows the two to support each other without taking the other’s shine.

Natalie O’Donnell brings the free-spirit spark to feisty Donna. With Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby off sick on opening night, Rosie and Tanya were played by understudies Sarah Kate Landy and Lisa Sontag, respectively, who both did a fabulous job as Donna’s right hand women.

Mamma Mia! The Musical is at its best during its big musical numbers – especially the outstanding Voulez-Vous. Another favourite of mine is the comedic Does Your Mother Know, between Tanya and Pepper (Sam Hooper). Hooper also dazzles with some awe-inspiring acrobatics.

The set design is simple – a two-story villa with balcony and rock wall – but an upgrade from the previous production. With lush greenery and calming hues, bringing that rich Mediterranean feel, it’s enough to cure your winter blues.

It’s a rather talk-heavy production and at times, it almost feels like a high-production tribute show – but then again, I’m a harsh critic. It’s a tough call as the story is over-the-top and at times, outdated. It has that tacky quality and is a little kitschy, like it always meant to be, but if you don’t think too hard about specifics you’re bound to leave the theatre with an overwhelming smile on your face.

Currently playing at the newly-refurbished Princess Theatre, the musical is a welcome change from other recent dramatic offerings, and brings a joyous celebration of fun and colour. Mamma Mia! The Musical, thank you for the music!

Performances run until 30 September, 2018
For more information, please visit

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