Strange as it may seem considering I was around for the very start of the ABBA phenomenon and can remember the event that was the arrival of any new music from the group, last night, I heard some of the 22 songs included in Mamma Mia! The Musical, now showing at Crown Theatre Perth, for the first time.
Of course we know and have loved the catalogue for over 40 years, however last night was different, I realised the actual meaning of some of those lyrics when they were placed within the narrative of the musical. As is usually the case, the songs both propel the narrative whilst commenting on the story.
There are too many examples of this throughout the production however one of the finest has to be Does Your Mother Know performed with oozing sexual tension by Jade Westaby as Tanya the cougar and Sam Hooper as the love struck Pepper. Pay special attention to The Winner Takes It All scene between Ian Stenlake and Natalie O’Donnell as Donna, this torch song alone will give you goose bumps.
The story is almost wafer thin, Sophie, daughter of single Mum, Donna, is getting married and after reading Donna’s diary takes it upon herself to invite 3 different men to the Greek island for the big day, figuring one of them is her Dad from a fling 21 years earlier.
Is it architect Sam, Headbanger Harry or world traveller but slightly lost soul Bill? There’s a very nice local touch when he proudly announces he was born in Bunbury! Yay.
Mamma Mia! The Musical was not written by Benny and Bjorn, that honour goes to British playwright Catherine Johnson who based the work on the songs of these 2 musical giants who surely must join the pantheon of all time great songwriters alongside Lennon and McCartney, Goffin and King and perhaps Cole Porter himself.
Though Mamma Mia! The Musical has been on stage since 1999 it feels like an old MGM musical in the vein of Singing in the Rain or even Hello Dolly and will be around for decades to come.
It’s vibrant, exuberant, funny, touching, thrilling, especially the closing of the first act and one thing is guaranteed, if you leave the theatre without a spring in your step and a BIG smile on your face, there is only one thing to do. Pull the top over, you’re dead!
And by the way, you will have these songs stuck in your head all over again.