Last performed in Singapore in 2014, with iconic ABBA hits from the 70s, the musical Mamma Mia! once again proves its broad appeal with its latest production at the Sands Theatre. The audience was going wild in every scene, with non-stop laughter, applause, and even tears. The playful sexual innuendos, heartwarming family scenes, and lively rendering of the catchy oldies are the highlights of the night.
One of the scenes that have made the deepest impressions is where leading lady Sophie’s mother, Donna Sheridan, met her three ex-lovers for the first time since decades. It is also the moment when the iconic Mamma Mia song is sung for the first time in the musical, as Donna locks eyes with each man, pauses dramatically and sings, “Mamma mia, now I really know/ My my, I could never let you go!” At the end of the song, Donna had to put on a tough front and chase her ex-lovers out of her doorstep. No matter how many years have passed, it goes to show that people and events who have truly made an impact on us never really go away.
The second scene is the uproarious courting scene between Tanya and Pepper, a besotted young man in his 20s. When Tanya asserts she is old enough to be his mother, he responds with a witty incestuous reference to the Greek tragedy, “Well, then you can call me Oedipus.” A passionate song-and-dance sequence ensues, where the absurdity of Pepper’s advances is punctuated with his crazy gymnastic moves synchronised with his equally enthusiastic friends. The audience goes wild with this scene, soaking up every energetic moment.
As the second generation of the Mamma Mia! production from the flagship company, the team shared that maintaining the golden standard is no easy feat, as they struggle with finding an all-rounder for the casts of the musical. According to the team, it is not always the case that individuals can sing, dance, and act to the same degree, and the three art forms are always fighting for supremacy: the choreographer wants the best dancers, the director wants the best actors, and the music director wants the best singers. Striking a balance between the three talents proved challenging for the team, but it was a necessary step forward and compromises have to be made. On the other hand, the key elements of the musical such as its plot, setting, and characterization are kept intact to stay true to the original.
For the musical’s first-generation production back in 2001, Shona White was casted as her character’s daughter, Sophie Sheridan. 17 years later, she acted as the leading lady, Donna, for this production,
She shares: “Mamma Mia has been part of my life for about 17 years now. I love it. I feel like I kind of know the show and the mother-and-daughter relationship inside-out. I’ve been privileged. I believe I’m the first actress to have done it. I can see the relationship from both sides, definitely. It was interesting rehearsing for Donna, knowing her (from the 2001 production).”
When asked about how Mamma Mia has sustained its legacy, the creative team speaks for most of its fans when they say it is a combination of the “wonderful, highly intelligent ABBA music that is more than just pop”.
With the inclusion of the characters in Mamma Mia! that encompasses the family dynamics in modern society, the musical sends a universal message about growing up, growing old, and going off to find the world.
Mamma Mia! The Musical
Date: 3 November 2018 to 18 November 2018
Venue: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Tickets start at S$58. For more information, visit: https://mamma-mia.com/international-tour/tickets-singapore.php.
Photos courtesy of Sebastien Teissier and MAMMA MIA! International Tour