Review: Mamma Mia!, New Theatre, Cardiff

Thomas Howells visits Cardiff’s New Theatre to review the musical, Mamma Mia! featuring the music of ABBA.

I’m constantly told how great Mamma Mia! is and the amount of people who have told me how jealous they were, when I mentioned I was seeing the show was immense. So, even though I had no clue what to expect, I know, I came away loving this iconic fun masterpiece.

Mamma Mia! is set on a beautiful Greek island with brilliant, baroque costumes and great singing from the whole cast. It’s a story about love, friendship and identity, with all the ABBA songs you know and love woven cleverly into the plot.

You may feel that you won’t like the musical because you’re not an ABBA fan – I’d disagree. I knew a total of three songs, but I still adored this beautiful musical. I think it can be accessible for anybody as long as you enjoy musicals. The biggest part of the show is the fun, incredible story. 

Speaking of which, the story is primarily about a girl called Sophie Sheridan, portrayed by Jess Michaelmore, trying to find out who her father is before she gets married. The best part though is how we get to see the relationship between Sophie and her mother, Donna, develop throughout the play as Sophie learns more about herself and her wants.

I must praise Jess Michaelmore for her portrayal, as I thought it was nothing short of incredible. I loved how she had this snappy and impulsive behaviour, like she fully understood her character and performed it perfectly. The bar was risen further by her incredible singing voice.

However, my favourite character was Tanya, played by Sarah Earnshaw. Her hilarious performance lit up the stage whenever she was on – she really got into the character and I lived for it. I’m torn on whether I preferred her in Dancing Queen or Super Trouper, but honestly that’s just a testament to how great she was. I always adore characters like hers, but I’ve got to say her dynamic with Donna (Sara Poyzer) and Rosie (Nicky Swift) gave her such a unique feel that I only loved it more.

The minimalistic set was used well, creating a totally different scene by rotating walls or swapping the orientation of small set pieces like chairs – it really reminded me of the set of Come From Away, one of my favourite musicals of all time.

Overall, I don’t usually like “Jukebox Musicals” like this, but Mamma Mia! is genuinely really good. Many of the reservations I had about seeing it didn’t apply – I adored it and I look forward to seeing it again in the future.

Published by Thomas Howells

The doctor said I should be in hospital for all the blood I was losing, but instead I went to drama practice

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