Abba stage show sure is a cure for cynicism

A musical that has everyone in the audience singing, clapping and dancing along Picture by Hugh Russell
Nóirín Ní Ruaidhrí

SMASH-hit musical Mamma Mia has returned to Belfast this week for a run at the Odyssey Arena – and 16 years since it was first performed, the show, based on the music of Abba, is still attracting massive audiences.

I must admit, I went along to the opening night in cynical mood. I was aware of Mamma Mia's huge success but could it really be that good? Well, it just wasn't good – it was great.

In case you haven't seen the movie based on this Catherine Johnson-penned stage show (which in turn takes its inspiration from the songwriting of Abba and its title from their 1975 hit), the plot revolves around the quest by Sophia (played by Co Down's Niamh Perry) to discover her father's identity.

Due to get married, Sophia invites three of her mother's old flames to her Greek island home and tries to discover which one is her real dad in time for him to walk her down the aisle – all to the tune of Abba hits including Super Trouper, Knowing Me Knowing You and Take a Chance on Me.

Perry opens the show superbly, singing a number called Honey. For me, though, the star of the show was Sara Poyzer who plays Donna Sheridan, Sophia's highly stung and independent single mother. Her delivery of classics like Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes It All was pitch perfect, making me fall right back in love with Abba as well as with her character.

That said, the whole cast were exceptional. This is a top-class performance full of amazing dancers showing off high levels of fitness and stamina. The show has comedy and romance, and everyone in the audience was singing, clapping and even dancing along.

I don't mind admitting I left the Odyssey extremely optimistic and singing Abba songs. This is a show that's not to be missed – particularly for any cynics out there.

:: Runs at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, until Saturday; Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin from June 23 to July 4 and the Millennium Forum, Derry, from July 7 to 11. See for details and booking links.



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