Even before the curtain goes up on the Oamaru Musical Theatre’s Mamma Mia!, you know you’re in for a great show.
The music and lighting in the prelude are sophisticated and fun – a fitting forecast of what follows.
If the first full dress rehearsal on Tuesday night is anything to go by, the season deserves to be a sell-out.
Director Russell Dixon has made superb choices in casting this production, which features Abba songs woven into a story about a single mother, Donna, running a taverna on a Greek island. Her daughter, Sophie, is getting married and wants her father to give her away. But Sophie doesn’t know which of her mother’s former boyfriends is the one. The island fills with Donna’s old girl group members, Sophie’s bridesmaids, and the prospective dads on the eve of the wedding.
The set is brilliant, cleverly designed, constructed, decorated, and used.
The nine-piece band literally never misses a beat, and the lighting is something to behold.
Lily Stock as Sophie is one talented teenager. Not only does she sing beautifully, but her acting is also highly accomplished. Her opening solo sets the standard.
Krissy McGeown as Donna is stupendous. Again, singing virtuosity and acting strength combine to create an utterly believable, lovable character who anchors the show.
Her chums, Tanya and Rosie, are played by Alice Hore and Sonya Creedy respectively. These two can really sing. Their harmonies give you goosebumps as they absolutely nail each note. And they embody their characters with relish, to great comic effect.
Dunedin teenager Ben Hayward is a lovely bridegroom, Sky. His performance has a maturity belying his youth.
Jack McGeown and Ryan Algar as his sidekicks, Eddie and Pepper, lead the hi-jinks nicely.
The dads are great. Tiernach Farrell as Harry has just the right amount of confidence and diffidence, David Blair – one of Oamaru’s best character actors – as Bill does a cracking Ocker accent even while singing, and newcomer Mark Kennard as Sam adds an understated complexity that’s a pleasure to watch.
Two scenes to look out for are Bill trying to make like a gecko, and Tanya and Rosie using a bowl of fruit to cheer up Donna.
Music director Sam van Betuw and choreographer Claire Gilchrist must be congratulated on their fearsome prowess. Combined with Dixon’s consummate skills, they have delivered a good old-fashioned stage spectacular. Don’t miss it.