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Review: Mamma Mia! the Musical Live in Malaysia

Donna money Mamma Mia! musical international tour Sara Poyzer

International tour production blessed with highly energetic Rosie and emotionally engaging Donna


Believe or not, after 15 years in business, this smash hit musical based on ABBA's classic pop songs is still entertaining and funny, even for today's audience, and might just be timeless. It was my first time going to a Mamma Mia! musical and I have yet to even see the feature film that's based on it (stars Meryl Streep) so it was like a completely new show to me and both my girlfriend and I, in our 20s, totally enjoyed the feel-good 2 hours and 30 minute show.

Written by Sunny Johnson, this musical comedy of family, friendship and romance takes place on a paradise-like Greek island where Donna's (Sara Poyzer) daughter, Sophie (Niamh Perry), is about to get married to Sky (Bart Edwards) and wishes to be "given away" by her father whose identity is unknown. Secretly, Sophie reads her mother's diary, finds three possible dads and invites them to the wedding. The musical features ABBA's greatest, nostalgic hits such as Dancing Queen, I Have a Dream, Chiquitita, Money, Money, Money, Lay All Your Love On Me, and many more.

Sophie Sky kiss Mamma Mia! musical international tour

The production was in town last weekend as part of their international tour to play a couple of shows a day at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. I went for the second show of Saturday at night, seated at the farthest top of the Plenary Hall, couldn't see any of the cast's faces, I thought the music wasn't live (from where I was sitting, it sounded as though it's on mono playback) and at the slow beginning, I thought this was going to be like a boring musical chick flick with daddy issues.

Perry's singing for the first number (after the prologue) Honey, Honey, Honey sounded a bit off but after that, everyone seemed to be all warmed up with the more funny naughty humour kicking in. The character Tanya's (Geraldine Fitzgerald) boobs were actually groped a few times as part of the playful choreography.

It was a top quality production with good lighting work, colourful costumes and the convincing and yet convenient set. I was very impressed with Sue Devaney's thoroughly energetic performance as Donna's friend Rosie. Sara Poyzer's powerfully emotional and memorable performance for the number Winner Takes It All is still stuck on my mind. The male characters, however, are underdeveloped and practically sidelined, I felt, but I guess that couldn't be helped if the original play was written this way with most of ABBA's songs more suited to be sang by female characters.

Rosie Donna Tanya Mamma Mia! musical international tour

The biggest disappointment to me was distance of where I was seated. There's no way anyone could fully enjoy any play or musical watching from up there unless the people were warned or advised to bring a pair of binoculars or something. It was so far away from the stage that I couldn't see any facial expressions and had to imagine, based on the body shape, hair colour and character personality, that Donna was played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Rosie - Ellen DeGeneres, and Sophie - Anna Kendrick. Perhaps the organisers should start prioritising on the experience of the audience instead of desperately trying to simply maximise profit.

I've no idea where else this international tour is going to and how long more will this production be around but I would definitely recommend it. I'm not really an ABBA fan, I'm in my late 20s and I hate chick flicks but I really enjoyed this show, I find quite hilarious and it got me feel like exploring more of ABBA's songs. It proves why Mamma Mia! is indeed a smash hit award-winning musical and this production and cast have done very well, even if it wasn't the best in its history.

Mamma Mia! musical wedding group photo international tour

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1 comment:
  1. I always love musical drama! I bet it is good one!

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