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Mamma Mia! Birmingham Hippodrome Review

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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How can we resist you?
Mamma Mia! is the perfect jukebox musical. With a quirky story, some colourful characters, a dose of pathos and lots of laughs, it is, of course, also packed with well-known and greatly loved songs by Abba.

Now more than 20 years old, Mamma Mia! continues to be a theatre favourite and the audience at Birmingham Hippodrome was certainly giving the show a huge thumbs up as they danced along to a medley at the end of the performance on press night.

Mamma Mia! Birmingham Hippodrome
Mamma Mia! Abba medley

Hits such as Money, Money, Money, Dancing Queen, Voulez-Vous, The Name of the Game, Mamma Mia, Super Trouper and I Have a Dream, just keep coming. This isn't surprising when we remember the creative team includes Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson alongside Judy Craymer – so there was never any risk of songs being forgotten.

The story takes us to an island in Greece where Sophie Sheridan is about to be married and longs to meet the father she has never known. But when she delves into the diary of her mum Donna, she discovers there are three possible candidates. Undaunted, she invites them all, convinced she will recognise her true father when she meets him.

Jena Pandya is a lovely Sophie, full of the enthusiasm and naivety of youth. Her lust for life as she parties on her hen night, intrigues with her friends and explains her love for fiancé Sky (Toby Miles) is infectious.

Mamma Mia! Birmingham Hippodrome
Jena Pandya as Sophie

Her mum Donna initially seems her absolute opposite as a free-loving independent woman who has made her own way in life. But in Sara Poyzer's Donna we quickly see the soft underside and realise that not everything is as it seems. And there is a real connection between the two women, brought out beautifully as mother prepares daughter for her wedding while singing the tear-jerking Slipping Through My Fingers.

Sara's rendition of The Winner Takes It All also deserves a mention as a show-stopping moment – it's not an easy song to get right but Sara is not only note perfect she also crams it full of emotion.

There is plenty of comedy created by the three potential fathers Sam (Richard Standing), Bill (Phil Corbitt) and Harry (Daniel Crowder) who initially appear ridiculous as they jostle for space not only physically but also emotionally – and yet you can't help but love them as they gradually become three individual and pretty decent guys caught up in a somewhat tricky situation.

Full marks also go to Helen Anker and Nicky Swift as Donna's two friends Tanya and Rosie – they both have brilliant cameos with hilarious performances of Does Your Mother Know and Take a Chance on Me.

Mamma Mia! Birmingham Hippodrome
Helen Anker, Sara Poyzer and Nicky Swift

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, with fantastic dancing choreographed by Anthony Van Laast and some fabulously fun sets and costumes by production designer Mark Thompson, Mamma Mia! has all the ingredients which will keep it touring for many years to come.

Mamma Mia, how can we resist you? Abba fans love the nostalgia of hearing all their favourite songs in a new guise and the reminder of how impressive the band's musical talents were. And if you're not an Abba fan, well who knows, you might just enjoy the ride. At Birmingham Hippodrome until 14 May, see for details.
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Why? Abba hits in hit jukebox musical
When: 3-14 May 2022
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From £32
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