Tuesday, 24 September 2019

REVIEW: Mamma Mia! the Party at the O2

After a hit musical winning the world over and two hugely successful films, Mamma Mia! has extended its franchise yet again with a completely new and original idea, Mamma Mia! The Party. This has come over from very successful run in Stockholm, where it is in its 4th year. 

This takes place at the O2 in North Greenwich, as you walk around the restaurants make sure you keep your eye out as I almost missed it but as you walk through the doors you’re teleported into somewhere that definitely doesn't feel like the corner of the O2! This is a fully rounded experience; within the ticket you get a welcome drink, a four course meal, a show and a disco to finish it off. However don’t forget, this is still a theatre environment so if you purchase other drinks make sure you read the prices first! 

We’ll start with the environment; although this is sold as being transported to a taverna on Skopelos, the Greek island where the first movie was filmed, it doesn’t necessarily feel like this. Instead it feels like being on a huge set, although this is a beautiful setting and nothing has been left out of the design. Designed by Bengt Fröderberg, the attention to detail is fantastic and every single person who walked in was impressed with the extent of it.

The waiters, who not only deal with your dining experience but also dance full out to some numbers, were so wonderful and the service provided was so thorough, polite and attentive. The production really should be proud to have some fantastic staff working for them. 

I am no food critic, but the food was very good. I am not a huge fan of Greek food personally however what was on offer was nice and good quality. If you’re like me then perhaps consider this side of it, the ticket price isn’t cheap as it include this 4 course meal so if you’re not one for Greek, perhaps give it a miss! 

Now the show, it has some absolutely stunning aspects to it. We were treated to some aerial performances which was so unexpected and wonderful to see being performed above everyone's tables. They have pulled together a wonderful and talented cast, Steph Parry stands out as the star of this show. A truly natural and magnetic actress with vocals that almost blew my beef off my plate. Pocket Size Theatre interviewed AJ Bentley, who plays Adam, but he was out of the show on this performance. Instead we had Jonathon Bentley in his place. His voice is stunning and his confidence and personality in the character was so much fun for us an audience, he certainly is one to watch. 

There is also a small part called Nina, played by Kimberly Powell, who I wish was featured more. Her talents are incredible and we got a small taster of all she has to offer, but this was not enough! I needed more of that voice! She also understudies Steph Parry as Kate, so if you happen to have her I’m 100% sure you’re in safe hands. 

I must also mention the Band, who do so much more than your average band on the West End! Steve Rushton and Kathryn Tindall both sing and play whilst getting the audience going and they do such an amazing job of it. A real credit to the show. 

However, the writing of this is so poor. The story, by Björn Ulvaeus, Calle Norlén and Roine Söderlundh and adapted by Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig, just isn’t good. At first I thought it was just a vehicle to move from song to song but there was so much dialogue that it felt like it went on forever. The text is also so unnatural, the cast here are super talented but unfortunately this script lets them down. There's not enough story for us to invest in and there's not enough songs for us to forget about it and forgive. This is the thing that lets the whole
production down. But the evening really gets going whenever a cast member breaks into song, especially the mega mix at the end! 

This is a really interesting experience, I’m not sure there is anything like this around. With a hugely talented cast and wonderful staff, it was such an enjoyable evening. However the story let the show down and even the talents of the cast couldn’t pick it up. But, as a whole experience, it was very interesting! 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Table 77 | Price of Ticket: From £151.20 to £218.40

Click here to buy tickets 
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