REVIEW: Mamma Mia! Kings Theatre, Southsea, until June 23.

The cast get to see the sights of Portsmouth!
The cast get to see the sights of Portsmouth!

There’s something quite magical about sitting in a packed (and suitably sweltering!) house at the Kings, a simply beautiful theatre.

And there’s something magical too about the show: Mamma Mia! the perfect feel-good night out, delivered with endless style and energy, sending everyone home on a massive high.

With the second Mamma Mia film on the horizon, the show comes as a timely reminder. The stage production came before the film and will always surpass it.

Yes, the film looked and still looks great, but it’s the stage version that really soars, full of imagination and soaked in emotions that feel just a little forced on film. It’s on the boards that the great Mamma Mia! heart really beats – and it does so beautifully here.

Shona White is superb as Donna Sheridan, the single mum on a gorgeous Greek island – a tough-on-the-outside figure recognising plenty of herself in her soon-to-be married daughter Sophie (Lucy May Barker).

The only the problem is that she hasn’t got a clue who Sophie’s dad is, thanks to a little bit of turmoil a couple of decades before. Adding to the problem is the fact that Sophie has invited all three of the possible dads to the wedding.

Tamlyn Henderson (Sam Carmichael), Daniel Crowder (Harry Bright) and Matthew Rutherford (Bill Austin) play them to perfection. In the film, it’s difficult to see anyone other than the big-name actors when you look at them. On stage, it rings true. Well, as true as any of it does, and the three of them differentiate the characters nicely.

Pumping it all along is a succession of mighty and majestic Abba hits, songs sewn so well into the story that it’s remarkable to think Benny & co didn’t actually have the show in mind when they wrote them.

The music is great. So too is the comedy. And so too is the show… and it was lovely to see it getting exactly the audience it deserved.

But blimey, it was hot in the Kings tonight. Almost Greek island-like, in fact…

Phil Hewitt

For more stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

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