Theater Review: Mamma Mia!

Dancing Queen Mamma Mia International Tour 2014

With platform heels, knee-high boots and enough Lycra to keep Italian factory mills running, Mamma Mia! has no doubt one of the craziest costume collections in musical history. Yet those aren’t even the most hilarious items in this production. That honor goes to a pair of iconic glasses.

“Sometimes, (the glasses) don’t do what I want them to,” says actress Sue Denavey, who plays the role of Rosie. At this point, Geraldine Fitzgerald, who plays Rosie’s friend Tanya, bursts into a throaty chortle.

“We were given a very strict note from the music director about singing Chiquitita one night, ” Geraldine recalled. A giggling Sue continues, “We’d to behave ourselves that night and of course, me glasses went askew so we laughed our way through the songs. But he forgave us of course.”

MAMMA MIA! International Tour 2014

If that’s the kind of fun they get into even off-stage, it’s little wonder why Mamma Mia! incites such fervor in its audience.

Set to a soundtrack of hits by Swedish pop-group ABBA, Mamma Mia! is a universal story of love, friendship and family. It tells the tale of Sophie, a young woman on the precipice of marriage, and her quest to uncover the mystery of her birth father. Hilarity ensues when she discovers not 1, but 3 potential candidates after reading her mother Donna’s diary. Without Donna’s knowledge, she invites the 3 men to her wedding.

Sara Poyzer, whose delightful incarnation of Donna has a restrained yet expressive candour, says it best. “I get to sing great songs, wear wacky costumes, what’s not to love about Mamma Mia?” And we’re sure starring across her husband, Richard Standing, who plays Poyzer’s onstage lover Sam, is definitely an added bonus.

The chemistry of the charismatic cast is beautifully parlayed into their onstage performance. None of the side-splitting moments feels forced, despite how some innuendos are delivered blatantly. Part of the credit must be attributed to natural comedian Denavey who relishes in Rosie’s antics with an almost lascivious glee.

Slipping Through My Fingers

Our favourite moment is definitely when Poyzer powers through consecutive emotional numbers, “Slipping Through My Fingers” and “The Winner Takes It All”, fully redeeming herself after her pitchy vocals in the first act.

The only flaw of this polished production may be the head-splitting thumping bass, which drowns a few of the climactic numbers.

Ahh, we could only dream to sing a song like this...

Rising above this technical hiccup is the willow-voiced Niamh Perry, who plays Sophie. Set against a backdrop of a full moon, her delivery of “I Have a Dream” possesses a dreamy, fantasy-like quality that had our hairs on end.

But Mamma Mia! is an ensemble show, and each member of the cast is on-point with their contagious energy. In fact, at least a quarter of the too-polite Singaporean audience had leapt to their feet during the finale, bouncing and swaying with wild abandon to the infectious beats.

Mamma Mia Ensemble Finale

Those who enter the theater wanting to take Mamma Mia! seriously will find themselves doing anything but. If you’re looking for a crazy night of fun to lighten up a dreary week, Mamma Mia! will chase the blues away –in tight Lycra no less.

Rating: 4.5/5


Venue: Grand Theatre, Mastercard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands

Date: Nov 13 to Dec 14, 2014

Tickets: $95 to $230 from Sistic

Photographs courtesy of Base Entertainment Asia