The Winner Takes it All as Mamma Mia fever grips the city

It was a full house for the opening night to Mamma Mia.
It was a full house for the opening night to Mamma Mia.
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Tuesday night and the lights were low - but only for a few moments before Mamma Mia exploded on to the Derry stage.

If you like the film, then Mamma Mia the musical, which opened last night for a week’s run at the Millennium Forum will blow you away.

It’s simply cheese, followed by cheese with an extra helping of cheese on the side.

But then I like cheese. No. I love cheese.

And the show does come with a tongue in cheek health warning at the beginning - people of a nervous disposition are reminded that there are actors donning platform shoes and white lycra, the announcer advised us.

The show starts gently with the song ‘Honey Honey’ as Sophie (Niamh Perry) tells her best friends how she’s invited her three possible dads to her wedding.

The pace just keeps picking up speed from there.

It’s obvious now how closely the film starring Meryl Streep followed the stage show.

But be prepared for a few extra numbers including ‘One of Us’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You.”

The music, quite rightly is what keeps the show up tempo and enthralling. The dancing however is what kept the audience engrossed.

Mamma Mia onstage last night at the Millennium Forum

Mamma Mia onstage last night at the Millennium Forum

Voulez Vous is one of best numbers and I was really impressed with the stage management and how the action moved from one scene to another with the music and dance still going on in the background.

The cast has one of the most diverse and fit choruses I’ve ever seen often moving from the ridiculous to the sublime. And by ridiculous, I mean good ridiculous. At one point the stage was full of toned lads dancing in wet suits, flippers and snorkels.

But the sublime was simply Richard Standing who plays Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan in the movie). Richard had everyone falling in love with him from the beginning. I particularly loved SOS and Knowing Me Knowing You. I’d go and watch Mamma Mia again just to hear him singing.

My favourite scene was when he was on stage with his real life wife Sarah Poyzer, who plays Donna, who sang The Winner Takes it All. You could have heard a pin drop.

Shobna Gulati and Sarah Poyzer.

Shobna Gulati and Sarah Poyzer.

The audience will probably spend half the time wondering where you’ve seen most of the cast from. A quick google and I found out Richard once played Danny Hargreaves in Coronation Street from 1999-2001.

But it’s probably Sue Devaney who plays Rosie that will give you the most trouble. Sue was once a paramedic in Casualty and also starred in Dinner Ladies.

Sue stole the show as Rosie, the role played by Julie Walters in the film. She was born to play the role. Her on screen chemistry with the talented Shobna Gulati (Tanya) and Michael Beckley (Bill) was sensational. Her comic timing is impeccable. And her duet with Michael Beckley in Take a Chance on Me had the audience on the floor in tears of laughter.

For me, the oldies had the edge in this production. Mark Jardine as Harry Bright was adorable.

It’s a brilliant night out. Take your husband, take your mum, take your girlfriends.

I love musicals. I’ve seen dozens over the years. As a critic I’d like to think of something that didn’t impress me. But if I did I’d only be making it up. The show is simply perfection as it is.

Mamma Mia runs until Sunday. In fact it’s so good, I’m thinking about going again.

For tickets contact the Millennium Forum Box office (028) 71 264455

http://www.millenniumforum.co.uk