Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!
Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. Book by Catherine Johnson. Willoughby Theatre Company. Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. until October 8 to 23, 2022.

Occasionally Stage Whispers gets complaints for not mentioning the sound of a musical in our reviews.

So let me redress any past deficiencies by describing the extraordinary audio experience the Willoughby Theatre Company provided its audience during Mamma Mia!

The mixing of on-stage performers sometimes engaged in fierce choreography, pit singers, spare cast members in their own backstage ‘studio’ and a touch of electronic embellishments was at times as sharp as a highly produced album listened to with headphones.

Sound designer Andrew Crawford and sound mixer Craig Herbert deserved an ovation along with the musical director Matthew Herne for the waves of clarity they produced.

Companies staging this musical must compete with audience memories of the movie and three professional national tours.

An impressive set from Josh McIntosh including a pier, a motorised boat, double storey Greek island villas and a church was embellished by vivid costumes and colourful lighting from Sean Clarke that dazzled.

A large troupe of well drilled dancers kept the musical pumping. You don’t get onto the ensemble of the Willoughby Theatre Company unless you can really move.

Mamma Mia! is a popular musical, not just because of the ABBA hits but also because of the mixture of acting opportunities for young and older cast members.

The three candidate fathers in the musical comedy - Geoff Stone (Sam), Clive Hobson (Harry) and Scott Kimpton (Bill) - all had good acting and singing chops.

The mature female leads each took their chances to shine. Janina Hamerlok (Tanya) carved up the silliest song of the night, “Does Your Mother Know”, with a much younger infatuated muse Max Kendrick (Pepper).

(Tisha Keleman) Rosie showed plenty of spunk in “Take a Chance on Me” whilst Karen Oliver (Donna) soared with “The Winner Takes it All’.

The bride and groom to be, Stephanie Edmonds (Sophie) and Blake Lovely (Sky), were lovely indeed.

A big splash of colour, song and dance got the crowd on their feet during the finale.

David Spicer

Photographer: Grant Leslie


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