An unforgettable night at the Playhouse as Mamma Mia returns to Edinburgh

Sharon Sexton's breathtaking performance of The Winner Takes It All had the audience rising for a standing ovation.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 19:24 pm
Helen Anker, Sharon Sexton and Nicky Swift on stage in Edinburgh. Picture: The Playhouse

It was without doubt her best performance as the lead in the world famous musical Mamma Mia as it returned to the Playhouse for a ten-night stint in what is now its 20th year.

For many in the Edinburgh audience, it was clearly not the first - and unlikely to be the last - time they had seen the musical, but such an emotional show-stopper made the production feel as fresh as it did when creator Judy Craymer first took a chance with the show, which is now a worldwide phenomenon on both stage and screen.

Mamma Mia returns in its 20th year. Picture: The Playhouse

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Sexton added a quirky Irish edge to the much-loved character of Donna - played by Meryl Streep in the Hollywood blockbuster - a feisty single mum who is preparing for the wedding of her only child Sophie (played by the excellent Emma Mullen), from whom she has long guarded the secret of her father's identity.

Most of us know how the story goes - Donna does not know who he is - but when all three potential dads turn up at her hotel on an idyllic Greek island, her past returns to stir up emotions she has painfully held at bay for 20 years.

Cue lots of laughter, sadness and of course the top-tapping, arm waving, tear-jerking hits of Abba for which Mamma Mia is famously based upon.

The laughter is aplenty and as far as feel-good nights at the Playhouse go, it would be hard to beat Mamma Mia in this current production, superbly directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Donna's long-standing friends, Rosie (Nicky Swift) and Tanya (Helen Anker), were simply fantastic, bringing to life such hits as Chiquitita and Does Your Mother Know for a first-rate stage experience.

None of it would have been possible, of course, without the remarkable work of the ensemble, who gave an energetic and perfectly choreographed accompaniment. Who could ever forget the flipper dance?

And let's not forget the men of the show - Rob Fowler (Sam Carmichael), Daniel Crowder (Harry Bright) and Jamie Kenna (Bill Austin) - Donna's former boyfriends who are all thrilled to eventually claim their third of Sophie. Kenna's last scene with Nicky Swift was one of the best of the night.

An unforgettable evening at the Playhouse. 5/5 stars.