Review: 'Mamma Mia!' is breezy entertainment whether or not you're an ABBA fan

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
From left to right: The playful Donna (Shona White) and her gal pals,  wealthy multiple divorcee Tanya (Helen Anker) and author Rosie (Nicky Swift). (PHOTO: Sebastien Teissier/MAMMA MIA! International Tour)

Mamma Mia, here we go again! The musical, which first toured to Singapore in 2014, is currently having its second run here at Marina Bay Sands’ Sands Theatre.

For those not clued-in (or not fans of ABBA), Mamma Mia! is essentially a showcase of classic hits by the popular Swedish pop group.

Not knowing about the tracks beforehand may dampen your experience, but the musical thankfully still carries its own weight with a feel-good story about love, family, friendship… and spandex.

The brainchild of producer Judy Craymer, Mamma Mia! follows the story of 20-year-old bride-to-be Sophie (Lucy May Barker) who lives on the Greek island of Kalokairi with her single mother Donna (Shona White), who operates a hotel there.

Unbeknownst to the latter, Sophie has secretly invited three men to her wedding after reading her mother’s diary, in a misguided quest to find the father she never knew. 

The 1999 jukebox musical, the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history, was eventually adapted into a hit movie in 2008 starring Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, and Pierce Brosnan. A sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, was released this year.

Don’t go in expecting grand sets the likes of Phantom of the Opera or Lion KingMamma Mia! basically switches from the exterior to the interior of the hotel. But the musical makes it up with exuberant and energetic group performances, to famous ABBA tunes like Money, Money, Money, Voulez Vous, and SOS.

The screen stealer is, of course, the playful Donna and her gal pals, author Rosie (Nicky Swift) and wealthy multiple divorcee Tanya (Helen Anker), who are uninhibited in their confidence and sexuality. Anker especially puts up a strong performance to plenty of laughs and applause.

Needless to say, Sophie’s decision to invite the three men is the central conflict between the mother-daughter pair. However, the drama never lingers for too long. Emotional performances like Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes It All are quickly eclipsed by fun and goofy numbers like Does Your Mother Know.

Ultimately, Mamma Mia! is enjoyable, even if you are not a fan of ABBA, but don’t expect it to leave an indelible impression. Just soak in the fun in the moment like a breezy beach vacation.

The trio ends off the musical in great (spandex) fashion. (PHOTO: Sebastien Teissier/MAMMA MIA! International Tour)

Mamma Mia! runs until 18 November at the Marina Bay Sands’ Sands Theatre. Tickets range from $58 to $188. 

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