When I went: 26 April 2014
Location: Novello Theatre, London
Performers: Dianne Pilkington (Donna), Kim Ismay (Tanya), Richard Trinder (Sam), Jessica Robinson (Lisa)
Creative team: Catherine Johnson (playwright), music and lyrics (Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus), Phyllida Lloyd (director), Mark Thompson (set designer)
Approximate price: £67
Special points: Feel-good factor
Best bit: Dancing Queen
If I could change one thing: More substance
I am not the biggest fan of ‘jukebox musicals’ in general; I tend to prefer either well-done classic musicals or new works. However, there is just something about Mamma Mia! (exclamation mark included!) that works for me. It has such a summery feel and ABBA really do have lots of great songs, even if the plot isn’t the most solid basis to pin them onto.
It’s also hard not to be drawn in by the lovable characters, especially the careworn Donna and the three men newly back in her life. I don’t think you watch it hoping for a particular outcome one way or the other except for Donna to be happy and for the party to continue.
Dianne Pilkington was great in Wicked and equally great in this. She has so much talent and charm that you can’t help but enjoy her performance. I was also particularly pleased to see Jessica Robinson, another of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s protégées from the BBC show Over the Rainbow, albeit in a small part here.
I saw this show when I was going through a tough time work-wise and it really was a great break for an evening. Apparently, Meryl Streep agreed to do the film version when she saw the stage version as she wanted to cheer everyone up; this performance definitely worked for me. It made me want to go to a Greek island myself and sit around and drink cocktails and dance and sing all day. Actually, I still feel like that and I have the songbook, so clearly I’ve been ABBA-fied.