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Mamma Mia! (International Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Mamma Mia! has been around now for over a decade and since the film starring Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan and man-of-the-moment Colin Firth, the stage version has gained a new audience, eager to sing along to the back catalogue of Swedish super-group Abba.

Unlike so many juke box musicals though, this one does have a funny and heart-warming book by Catherine Johnson which does stop your attention waning. Sophie (Charlotte Wakefield) is getting married and is desperate to find out who her father is, so she tracks down three possible candidates and invites them all to her big fat Greek wedding - without telling her mother - Donna (Sara Poyzer).

Due to the epic narratives contained within classic Abba songs such as "The Winner Takes It All" and the title track, time flies by as the melodies are so familiar that you cannot help but get swept along by the sheer energy and exuberance on display. The ensemble and swings are superb as they deliver Anthony Van Laast's dazzling dance moves with real ease and the wonderful Kelly Ewins stands out in a crowd as her enthusiasm is utterly infectious.

Wakefield's Sophie is sweet, naive and in good voice, her husband to be Sky played by David Roberts is amusing but the actor seems nervous on opening night and his vocals suffer accordingly during "Lay All Your Love On Me." The three would be dads Sam, Harry and Bill are in much better voice than their movie counterparts - thankfully and Richard Standing's Sam in particular hits all the right notes and makes the silliness totally believable.

As Donna - Poyzer is more than adequate but she does not bring the likeability or the bucket loads of emotion seen previously on tour from Jackie Clune during tracks like "Slipping Through My Fingers." Scene stealers and audience favourites Jennie Dale and Kate Graham bring the party atmosphere to the piece as best friends Rosie and Tanya and have great comic timing and a knowing sense of fun.

If you take Mamma Mia! seriously then you have bought tickets for the wrong show as it is meant to be fun and feelgood and although not as slick as the last tour to hit Manchester, it still remains a "Super Trouper" which is guaranteed to unleash you inner "dancing queen" by the time of the rousing finale.  


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