Some musicals should be seen for the story, some for the cast, some for the music. You need to see ‘Mamma Mia’ just for a good time.
Basically, ‘Mamma Mia’ has a fairly silly story (that doesn’t have a real conclusion) that is tied together with Abba music. It was a goldmine for the members of Abba. They have cleverly discovered (along with Queen) that a hit musical is pretty good earner without having to leave the house.
‘Mamma Mia’ works for the pop fan because you know every song. The plot about a young lady about to marry but not knowing her biological father so she invites the three possibilities to the wedding is simply an excuse to tie the songs together.
Even the movie with A-listers Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep didn’t make the inane plot any more credible.
The thing with ‘Mamma Mia’ is that the pop perfection of Abba is so good that even the stupidest of stories can’t muck this show up. Somehow Abba get away with the inane while The Beatles ‘Love’ (which has only ever played in Las Vegas) was complete rubbish.
I guess there was never anything too deep with Abba in the first place. They were always just a pure pop band which people either loved or tolerated. No-one ever hated Abba.
So cast aside any preconceived opinions about this show’s place in theatre history and just enjoy it for what it is … a good time to be had by all.
What is impressive is the longevity of this show. When ‘Mamma Mia’ first premiered in Australia in 2004 Natalie O’Donnell played the daughter Sophie. In 2018 she is the mother Donna.
Unlike the other Benny and Bjorn musical ‘Chess’, Mamma Mia’ has become a theatre classic. ‘Chess’ recently made a comeback in Melbourne but it has not aged well. Benny and Bjorn composed an original soundtrack for ‘Chess’. They relied on songs everyone knows for ‘Mamma Mia’. ‘Chess’ also had a darker, more sinister plot, set during the Cold War. ‘Mamma Mia’ is set on a Greek Island.
Music & Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus
Book by Catherine Johnson
Directed by Gary Young
10 July – 30 September, 2018
Princess Theatre, Melbourne