Over 60 million people have seen London’s most famous jukebox musical, which has grossed $2 billion worldwide since its 1999 debut, part in thanks to several major international tours. This English-language touring production (with Chinese subtitles) plays brilliantly to an international Hong Kong crowd, returning for the first time since 2014, and seems to have lost none of the pizzazz or spectacle of the West End.
The genius behind the show’s success, as well as the incredible songs, is to cast “actors who sing”, rather than “singers who act”. The result is more like sharing a hilarious evening of karaoke with best-loved family members than watching a stuffy concert. This is especially true of the three visiting fathers (Daniel Crowder, Matthew Rutherford, Tamlyn Henderson), each competing for biological claim to daughter Sophie (Lucy May Barker). For such a silly story, the tension and drama is surprisingly real.
That said, Shona White, who plays Sophie’s mother, Donna, will knock your socks off with her singing voice. Her rendition of “The Winner Takes It All” in the second half is nothing short of showstopping, as is her heartfelt “Slipping Through My Fingers”. Helen Anker lights up the stage as Tanya, the gregarious, glamorous, triple divorcée, with hilarious comic delivery.
Two decades on, the show does show its age in the costumes, the lack of reference to social media, the painfully stereotypical gender roles and the overall level of cheesy humour. But ABBA’s iconic music remains so well-loved, and this production captures the love perfectly. For anyone suffering from post-Christmas blues, this is practically a necessity.
Join the fun at Mamma Mia! until 27 January 2019.