Review: Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia! bring the magic of Abba to the Playhouse Pic: Contributed
Mamma Mia! bring the magic of Abba to the Playhouse Pic: Contributed
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“I HAVE a dream..”

The opening lyrics of Mamma Mia! surely resonate with one member of the touring company more than most.

Phillip Ryan, playing love interest Sky, has come home, to ply his trade on a stage he has dreamed of performing on since making the Capital his home as a teenager.

The Playhouse, Greenside Place

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And he couldn’t have asked for a better vehicle for his homecoming, this Mamma Mia! is a dream production.

From the first bars of the overture, a medley of Abba favourites, everyone is clapping along.

Instantly recognisable, it’s difficult to go wrong with the songs of Benny and Bjorn, and from the off the audience are up for an evening of sun, songs and romance.

Set on an idyllic Greek island, the action unfolds on Jonathan Allen’s simple, yet wonderfully evocative set.

With her wedding to sweetheart Sky on the horizon, Sophie Sheridan is a lost wee soul in search of her estranged father.

To that end, she has secretly invited three of her mother’s former lovers to the celebration.

Her hope? That one of them will be the man to walk her down the aisle.

As Sophie, Lucy May Barker is delightfully wilful, capturing the emotional turmoil of the situation with a quiet understanding that belies her years. And what a voice!

Barker’s rich vocals are matched by those of her buff Scottish beau.

An instant hit with the ladies, Ryan brings Sky to life with a cheeky twinkle in his eye and an assured presence. Together, they share a natural chemistry.

That said, Mamma Mia! is really the story of Sophie’s mother Donna, one time member of all-girl singing trio, Donna and the Dynamos.

In the role, Sara Poyzer is peerless, investing her Donna with tenderness and strength in equal measures.

During a heart-wrenching, and show-stopping, rendition of The Winner Takes It All, you could hear a pin drop.

Her performance is a master class in musical theatre.

Poyzer is more than ably supported by Jacqueline Braun and Emma Clifford as Rosie and Tanya, her fellow Dynamos.

Braun’s physical comedy is the perfect foil for Clifford’s gloriously sardonic delivery.

As prospective dads Harry, Bill and Sam, Tim Walton, Christhoper Hollis and Richard Standing excel.

Perhaps the greatest secret of the success of this production is that, iconic as they are, the songs are never allowed to upstage the story.

Driving the narrative forward they remain integral to the fun, however.

Chiquitita, as Rosie and Tanya attempt to make the lyrics relevant in an attempt to lift Donna’s spirits, is nicely knowing.

Lay All Your Love on Me, meanwhile, finds the boys of the company wearing wet suits and flippers in a hilarious routine choreographed by Nichola Treherne.

And if that lifts the fun-factor to a new level, Super Trooper ramps it up higher still.

Special mention must also go to the acrobatic Louis Stockil who gives a mischievous turn as Pepper, working brilliantly opposite Clifford in Does Your Mother Know, another comic gem.

By then end of course, there’s a happy ending and the obligatory sing-along finale that quickly has the audience raising their voices and up on their feet - a spontaneous and joyous celebration of some of the greatest pop songs ever written.

Simply put, this Mamma Mia! is musical heaven and undoubtedly Edinburgh’s hottest ticket this festive season.

Run ends 7 January 2017