q Theatre Review: Here We Go Again, My My, Or Paternity And Possibilities - Bruce Dennill

Theatre Review: Here We Go Again, My My, Or Paternity And Possibilities

April 4, 2015

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

Mamma Mia! International Tour / Teatro, Montecasino, Johannesburg / Directed by Mark Hilton 

 

As the marketing material for this production will tell you, it’s been ten years since the Mamma Mia! International Tour visited South Africa, but it’s a good deal less than that since a South African cast absolutely nailed the production in front of, presumably, more or less the same audience.

It’s also true that our local musical theatre practitioners are usually snapped up to perform on international tours themselves, making this production, in this market, seem like a case of importing similar-sized fish into a small pond. The net result is a niche that now feels overpopulated with material and talent that may benefit more from being more spread out.

Not that there’s anything wrong with this production, mind. The choreography is probably slightly sharper than the recent homegrown version, the younger actors are magnificently conditioned – an observation also by the tipsier female members of the audience, who shriek and whoop each time some young hunk takes off his shirt. And there are standout performances, too, with Sue Devaney adding a contagious energy to Rosie.

Sara Poyzer as Donna Sheridan just about convinces as the sort of woman who three men could be in love with simultaneously, but is let down by her top range on some of her solos.

Abba’s music, incredibly, is as impressive as ever, with the intelligence woven into the clever melodies and layered arrangements still shining through regardless of the naivete or, indeed, wilful ignorance of the characters who sing the lyrics. This production uses more backtracks than the South African equivalent did, which is disappointing – understandable, perhaps, in light of the amount of touring the company does and the wear and tear on both singers and band members – but still a let-down in a live stage musical context.

A simple, stylish, easy-change set completes the package, which is, overall, slick and enjoyable, and more than good enough to win over any audience who has not yet seen the piece performed live and most fans for whom this tour offers a fourth or fifth opportunity to indulge in what becomes, by the end, jaunty mass karaoke with a narrative.

 

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