REVIEW: MAMMA MIA! @Brighton Centre

MAMMA MIA! is a perfectly constructed musical, with music composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and a clever storyline constructed around the songs of ABBA by Catherine Johnson.

It’s a story of young love, old love and people’s dreams and aspirations. A story about strong women and the love and affection old friends have each other.

Single mother Donna Sheridan (Helen Hobson) brings up her daughter Sophie (Lucy May Barker) alone on a paradise Greek Island. After secretly reading her mothers diaries, Sophie learns that her mother had three relationships around 9 months before she was born, and unknown to her mother, she sends invitations to the three men who could possibly be her father for her coming wedding to Sky (Philip Ryan). She believes that once she meets them she will be able to choose which one is her father and he can walk her up the aisle!

It is unfair to single out individual performances in an ensemble show such as this but suffice to say the three actresses in the central roles Helen Hobson (Donna Sheridan) kookie Gillian Hardie (Rosie) and posh tottie Emma Clifford (Tanya), all former bandmates in the Dynamos, are pivotal to the storyline and each played the comedic elements of their roles to perfection.

It also needs saying that maybe Phillip Ryan (Sky) and the group of male performers round him might have been cast for their looks rather than their voices. Seven packs and muscles in all the right places provided some wonderful eye candy all night, yet their contributions were innocent and fun rather than sexually overt.

The three dads including a gay, or is that a bi-sexual one (this musical ticks all the boxes) were played by Jamie Hogarth (Harry Bright), Jon Boydon (Sam Carmichael) and Christopher Hollis (Bill Austin) who were all vocally very strong and endearing.

Special mention for Mark Thompson’s set and Howard Harrison’s lighting which brought that faraway Greek Island right here to Brighton Seafront and created a wonderful uplifting ambiance in the huge Brighton Centre arena, which is no mean feat.

MAMMA MIA! is all about the music and the audience hummed quietly along to every song, as most number in this show are classics in their own right.

The demographic of the audience was telling, 50% ladies of a certain age and a good 35% gay men, who smouldered all evening waiting for the opportunity to get up and boogie. When the final mega mix arrived the Brighton Centre erupted into a full scale party.

MAMMA MIA! is the perfect choice for a seaside resort like Brighton to have as its summer show. It’s a real feel good musical, and this production is beautifully constructed with fantastic dancing and accompanied by first class live musicians. Rarely have I seen so many smiling faces leaving a Brighton venue after a show.

This is the five star must see show of the summer season here in Brighton and tickets start at just £15.

MAMMA MIA! runs at the Brighton Centre till Sunday, September 3.

If you have not booked your tickets yet, click here:

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