'Mamma Mia! The Musical' celebrates life, love and the power of women

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 27 Nov 2014

It’s all love: Catchy numbers like Lay All Your Love On Me will have the audience wanting more Mamma Mia! magic.

You will want to dance and sing when Mamma Mia! hits the town next month

WE all have secrets. Some are shared among friends, some are hidden in the closet and some are locked up in a chest and buried deep down the ocean, never to be found.

But you see, no matter how deep you bury them, secrets will always find their way to the surface, often in the most inopportune moment.

Mamma Mia! The Musical is filled with secrets andthere’s a lot for the masses to find out when the beloved show returns to Kuala Lumpur next month.

In the show, Donna Sheridan lives with a haunted past. Scorned by the love of her life, she went on a steamy summer escapade with two men, separately of course. And then it happened: the pregnancy.

Determined and undeterred by the prospects of being of a single mum, Donna delivered her daughter Sophie and raised her independently. The possible identity of the father of her child was never to be spoken of.

Twenty years later, on the eve of Sophie’s wedding, fate and destiny decided to play a trick on her. All three of Donna’s lovers arrived at her Greek taverna ... on the same day! Unknown to her, it was Sophie who invited them to the wedding, yearning to find out, once and for all, who her father was.

Niamh Perry (left) melted the hearts of many with her angelic voice and sweet innocence.

Many of us would have just flipped and shaken our fists to the heavens. Donna decided to sing instead.

“I’ve been cheated by you, since I don’t know when. So I made up my mind, it must come to an end. Look at me now, will I ever learn? I don’t know how, but I suddenly lose control. There’s a fire within my soul,” she goes without missing a beat.

Enter the world of Mamma Mia! The Musical, where colourful characters and Abba classics share the spotlight. Written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, the musical, which opened in London’s West End in 1999, played in Hong Kong two months ago (where this writer watched it) as part of its international tour.

Mamma Mia!, which last played in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, is ready to get the Malaysian crowd up and dancing when it opens at the Plenary Hall in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Dec 18.

If there is one reason to get away from your computer screens and watch this show, it has to be the catchy and phenomenal songs. The songs of Abba are timeless classics. There is no denying that. But they have a renewed meaning and purpose in this beautifully and adroitly strung together musical.

The tunes and the melodies are simply magical and sometimes heartbreaking. During the Mamma Mia! show, you can feel ol’ Donna’s frustration in Money, Money, Money, while Lay All Your Love On Me andThe Winner Takes It All will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Even if you were to strip away the music and just hear the lyrics of The Winner Takes It All being read, it is enough to crush your heart. Many of us know how it feels to lose a lover, the man or woman we thought would be the one.

This is another charming part of Mamma Mia!, that it manages to evoke all these familiar emotions within you. The themes explored in this musical are, after all, universal: young love, lost love, one’s identity, disappointment, heartbreak and feeling lost.

It’s all love: Catchy numbers like Lay All Your Love On Me will have the audience wanting more Mamma Mia! magic.

Beyond the remarkable songs and relatable story, it is the fascinating characters that make Mamma Mia! tick.

Playing Donna Sheridan is West End actress Sara Poyzer. This is one role the theatre thespian says she knew she had to play when she watched the musical seven years ago.

“There are certain roles in your life that are already in you. But with Donna, it felt like, always was and always will be,” the 44-year-old Poyzer shared in an interview hours before an evening show at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

She could not have said it better. It never felt like watching an actress playing a character. Poyzer has a firm grip on the script as she channels Donna’s strengths and flaws. You cannot help but be entranced. On stage in Hong Kong, there was something about her that was spellbinding from the start.

From the moment she appeared on stage, Poyzer exuded this inner confidence that is ever so infectious.

Moreover, her voice is simply alluring, raw and lyrical. Her emotions are almost tangible.

This was nowhere more evident than when Poyzer sang the poignant Slipping Through My Fingers and dug deep for a soulful The Winner Takes It All.

The lovely Niamh Perry, who plays Sophie, was such a delight to watch, too. Her angelic voice lifts you to the heavens and she brought a sense of innocence and naivety to the role.

The ensemble was no less captivating. They brought vigour and enviable energy to the stage. You might have to resist the temptation to stand up and dance when you see them perform high-octane numbers such as Voulez-Vous and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!. Suddenly, the lights illuminating the stage or even the impressive stage set become secondary.

The stage at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts was just burning with feelgood energy and the momentum was unstoppable. I just felt like jumping onto the stage and joining them! Another force to be reckoned with came in the form of the Dynamos (Donna’s closest friends, Tanya and Rosie). Played by Geraldine Fitzgerald and Sue Devaney respectively, these dynamic ladies stole the show with their comic prowess. They delivered their lines with the precision of a surgeon that it had the audience guffawing with delight.

My favourite moment was when the entire ensemble performed Dancing Queen and Waterloo right at the end of the show as is the tradition of Mamma Mia!. The audience stood up and danced and sang with the cast. It was just liberating and exhilarating!

And therein lies the magic of Mamma Mia!. It may make you cry or reminisce about your lost love. But it gives you hope as well. Life goes on. One should never cease from celebrating life. Get up, dance and sing! Just remember ... you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life!

Mamma Mia! The Musical will be staged at the Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, from Dec 18 to 21. It is organised by Yvents! and presented by Maybank with Star Publications (M) Bhd as the media partner. Tickets, priced at RM190, RM290, RM390, RM490 and RM590 (excluding a RM3 ticketing fee), are available from TicketsPeople. For details, call 03-2287 2727 or visit ticketspeople.com.

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