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MAMMA MIA! @ Regal Theatre gets 8/10


Mamma Mia!
@ Regal Theatre

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

8/10

Mamma Mia! is the theatrical version of Baklava – syrupy-sweet, comforting, and nutty. With the audience cheering from the first notes of the overture, opening night at the Regal Theatre was a joyful escape.


Primarily a vehicle for ABBA’s biggest hits, the iconic music must be first priority for any Mamma Mia! production. From the opening chords of each song, you couldn’t help but grin, tap your feet, and restrain yourself from singing along to irresistible melodies (Dancing Queen). There was a moment of glee each time you recognised a song, which occasionally took until the chorus for some (Thank You For The Music). There were a few opening night sound cue issues, and one song fell flat due to poor blocking (Super Trouper), but it was more than made up for by the high energy, beautifully choreographed whole cast numbers (Voulez-Vous).


Regular theatre patrons might have been concerned with the cardboard town cutout that graced the stage upon arrival, potentially giving flashbacks of painting high school production sets. But that was whisked away with the opening curtain to reveal a pleasant limestone taverna that will make you wish for balmy summer nights.

Georgia Unsworth was sweetness and light as the innocent Sophie, the young bride searching for identity. Her beautiful voice shone in the solos (I Have a Dream), but she didn’t have the stage presence to hold your attention when sharing the stage with her very funny castmates. Mamma Mia! is comfortable in its identity as a don’t-take-it-too-seriously jukebox musical, and the cast embraces their opportunities to get a laugh. Comedy numbers had the audience roaring, with sidekick Tanya putting young buck Pepper in his place (Does Your Mother Know), Rosie and Bill’s hook up song (Take a Chance on Me) and the men’s buck night antics dancing in flippers.


While daughter Sophie pulls the storyline along, Mamma Mia! really is matriarch Donna’s story. A story of independence needs a strong feisty lead and Holly Easterbrook delivers. With a rich powerhouse voice that rose above all others (Money, Money, Money), Holly’s performance was flawless. The expression she could pack into each phrase was outstanding, particularly when jamming ABBA songs into a storyline they weren’t quite designed for. Her ability to twist the meaning of the lyrics with a side glance or frustrated thrust of a prop was exceptional (Mamma Mia). Holly’s depth of emotion in both vocal and acting ability created incredibly moving solo and duet pieces (SOS), expressing the frustrations of life so beautifully that audiences couldn’t help but show their admiration (The Winner Takes It All).

Get down to Regal Theatre by November 13 to catch Mamma Mia! and you’ll come away with dreams of Greek Isles, a smile on your face, and an earworm song that will last for days (Mamma Mia, here I go again…).

MELISSA MANN

Photos by Vin Trikeriotis

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