Tag Archive: Abba

*** Catch up time, because I’ve fallen behind writing my reviews. Not convincing reasons, but in my defence, they do involve theatre and learning lines. ***

It’s hard to believe that there are people in this world who don’t like Mamma Mia. The cheek. It could be due to them not liking the Meryl Streep movie, or simply being an anti-ABBA snob. Possibly, most of these have never seen the stage musical because if they had, they’d have been part of a fun and enjoyable music extravaganza.

Mamma Mia — Wolverhampton Grand — January 19, 2023

Mamma Mia is a light-hearted romp, well-written with excellent tunes which have stood the test of time for 50 years. Some period musicals date; this has not. As soon as you hear the first chords of the overture, goosebumps rise and two and half hours then goes far too quicky.

The show is, of course, a Jukebox Musical, with a sharp but easy on the mind script by Catherine Johnson with music coming from the ABBA writing duo of Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. And what you get musically is hit after hit after hit. Instantly recognisable songs that have the audience singing and clapping all the way to the end. Yes, I was guilty as charged, so shoot me. It’s a fantastic show.

Mamma Mia — Wolverhampton Grand — January 19, 2023

In the role of Donna during this performance was Sarah Harlington who excelled in one of my favourites — Slipping Through My Fingers. Also at the top of their game was Jess Michelmore as the feisty but still vulnerable Sophie for which I Have a Dream was wonderful. Playing Donna’s comic foil friends were Sarah Earnshaw (Tanya) and Nicky Swift (Rosie). As well as their own numbers (Does Your Mother Know and Take a Chance on Me respectively), they completed a great trio with Harlington’s Donna for Chiquitita, Super Trouper and Dancing Queen.

Of course, Sophie has friends as well, plus a fiancé. Tanya Butterfield was Ali while Freya Humberstone played Lisa. Both combined well with Michelmore for the funny and light-hearted Honey Honey which sets the story for the rest of the show. As Sophie’s groom to be, we have Sky, portrayed well by Christopher Foley who duetted with her in Lay All Your Love on Me.

Mamma Mia — Wolverhampton Grand — January 19, 2023

On stage as Sophie’s three potential dads (forgive me if you don’t know the plot; go watch the show) were Neal Craig (Harry), Phil Corbitt (Bill) and for the second time seeing his as Sam, Richard Standing. Completing the principal cast were Jaden Oshenye (Pepper), Archie Flynn (Eddie) and Andrew Bateup (Father Alexander). As was everyone else in the cast, these were out of this world making this a real show to remember.

Mamma Mia — Wolverhampton Grand — January 19, 2023

Other great and personal favourite tunes included Money Money Money, Thank You for the Music, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), Voulez-Vous and of course, Mamma Mia. I also love the feelgood I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do. And just when you think it’s all over after the bows, you get an encore with a full cast Dancing Queen and the one that made ABBA famous — Waterloo.

I can’t keep repeating enough, this is a fantastic show, directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography from Anthony Van Laast, plus musical supervision in the hands of Martin Koch.

Mamma Mia is still touring the UK for the early part of 2023. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Mamma Mia — Wolverhampton Grand — January 19, 2023


Antony N Britt

The only tribute act I have ever seen are the wonderful, Kick up the 80s, many years ago. And I have never attended a gig dedicated to a single band. However, when the originals are no longer around or touring, then maybe this is the best you’re going to get.

I love ABBA. Heck, who doesn’t? And I had no hesitation in going along to this one. I mean, they sort of look like ABBA, and they really do sound like them, so you’d be hard pressed to know better.

But this tribute is all about the fans who many came dressed for the occasion and totally lapped it up.

Bjorn Again are a tongue-in-cheek parody of the real thing with the band having stage character names of Agnetha Falstart, Frida Longstockin, Benny Anderwear and Bjorn Volvo-us. I am not going to credit their real names because the whole nature and appeal of the act is that they are ABBA.

Taking the stage to Arrival, the crowd then went wild at the opening bars of Waterloo. And then hit after hit in which we were treated to: Gimme Gimme Gimme, Super Trouper, Honey Honey, Fernando, Ring Ring, Mamma Mia, Thank You for the Music and the inevitable Dancing Queen among so many more. We even had a rendition of Van Halen’s Jump. It was all good fun, as it was supposed to be, but also fabulous entertainment. Okay, some of the staged band interaction was a little cringing at times, but I reckon it was meant to be.

Since you can’t see ABBA anymore, I fully recommend Bjorn Again, and I’ve been listening to an ABBA playlist ever since, such was the positive experience. I can honestly say that for any fan of the originals, this is a great night out.


Antony N Britt

Everybody loves Abba … don’t they?

When it was first suggested I go and see Mamma Mia, I thought, great, another evening where I’m among a 10% male minority of an audience. But hey, off I went and even bought a flower garland to wear in order to feel more at home.

So where do I start? I mean, I admit I’d been listening to the soundtrack CD for over a week so I was really looking forward to the show. I only hoped it would live up to the hype and my own expectations. As it turned out, I was not to be disappointed.

Okay, there was the downside that being in a predominantly female audience on Row C, I still managing to sit behind the biggest guy in the theatre. Even so, it didn’t spoil things – much.

From the onset there was a dynamic energy from the cast and orchestra with music played at a volume making you feel as if you were part of proceedings. A basic set was acceptable as what was in front of it meant you were hardly ever looking at the background.

And you had the music of Abba. Yes, hit after hit after hit, the songs fitting well with the storyline. I also cannot compliment the well written script of Catherine Johnson enough. Fast paced and genuinely funny.

Musical highlights for me were Take a Chance on Me, Thank You for the Music, Mamma Mia and Under Attack. The latter of these was sung with an excellent choreographed dream sequence which began Act Two in perfect fashion.

So the cast. Playing the role of Donna was Sara Poyzer with Jacqueline Braun and Emma Clifford as Rosie and Tanya (respectively) – Donna’s old performing colleagues. It was these two, in my opinion, who had the most impact on the show, delivering the best songs and bringing the comedy to the front. Sophie was portrayed by Lucy May Barker with Phillip Ryan as Sky. Sophie’s three potential father’s were Sam Carmichael (Richard Standing), Harry Bright (Tim Walton) and Bill Austin (Christopher Hollis). Completing the main cast were Micha Richardson (Ali), Blaise Colangelo (Lisa), Louis Stockil (Pepper) and Sam Robinson (Eddie).

Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Last and musical direction, Richard Weeden.

On completion of the bows, the audience rose to their feet and joined in with the encore which included the classic Waterloo.

So did I enjoy myself? Well, the proof is the fact that I’m still playing the CD in the car.

Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome



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