Theatre Review: MAMMA MIA! The Musical, is back and…here we go again!

Mamma Mia

MAMMA MIA! The Musical boasts a coverage of 22 of ABBA’s greatest hits, loved by multiple generations since the super group first stepped on stage in the 1970s. This stage musical, first coming to life in London in the 1990s, has gone on to perform in over 20 languages around the world. It also turned into a movie musical in 2008 (and sequel in 2018) starring Meryl Streep. Over 65 million people have seen MAMMA MIA!, so expectations for this production, are understandably high.

This 2023 production is a re-staging of the 2017 Australian production and is full of joy and enthusiasm. It features the original creative mastery of a team of Aussies including Director Gary Young, Choreographer Tom Hodgson, Musical Supervisor Stephen Amos, Set Designer Linda Bewick, Costume Designer Suzy Trout, Lighting Designer Gavan Swift, and Sound Designer Michael Waters. It is bright and fun, designed to take you away from the realities of life and for the 2 hours and 30 minutes running time, disconnect from pandemics and wars, and just have a plain good time.

For those new to the MAMMA MIA! phenomenon, the story centres on Sophie (Sarah Krndija), who is planning her wedding on a Greek island where her single mother, Donna Sheridan (Elise McCann) runs a taverna. She comes across her mother’s diary and tries to understand who her father is. On a whim, she invites three potential fathers to her wedding unbeknownst to her mother. The past is dug up into the present and relationships evolve, told through the music of ABBA.

McCann is high energy, to the point where it looked like she could pass out at any point. But she kept going and going like an energiser bunny. She’s full of life and beams through every musical number. Krndija has a voice that is sweet and kind, matching her character. She also lets that vulnerability of Sophie shine through without holding anything back.

The three fathers could not have been more perfectly cast. Martin Crewes plays Sam Carmichael, stunningly sophisticated and a little rugged, with a strong emotive voice. Drew Livingstone plays Harry Bright, a rich intellectual who reflects on his free-loving past. He was also very funny and great with a guitar. Lastly, Tim Wright plays Bill Austin, a travelling writer. Wright effortlessly slips into the vagabond character and has a great connection to the other budding dads on stage.

Jordan Tomljenovic and company – photo James D Morgan

The supporting cast, who have their own individual moments in the spotlight, continue to keep the momentum of the musical going until the final musical number. Notable mentions include Donna’s besties, pocket-rocket Tanya (Deone Zanotto) and the radiant Rosie (Bianca Bruce). This is especially true of their interactions with men of interest, Pepper (Jordan Tomjenovic) and Bill (Wright).

A stand out feature in this production is the lighting (cheers to lighting designer, Gavan Swift), particularly at the beginning of the second act, which jump scared a lot of folks in the audience. Overall, the lighting propelled the beat of the music and set the scene, particularly the night before the wedding during the night club numbers. Another vital component, the staging by set designer Linda Bewick, who made us feel, for a couple of hours at least, that we were not struggling through a Sydney winter but easing through a European summer.

With MAMMA MIA! The Musical, the name of the game is to have a good laugh and sing along to the timeless hits of ABBA. In Sydney there will be a 10-week season at the Lyric Theatre, and following this, production will move on to Brisbane and finish in Melbourne in October 2023. This musical comes at such a perfect time and will certainly warm your dancing (queen) feet over the colder months ahead.


MAMMA MIA! The Musical is now playing at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney through to July 30th, 2023. For more information and to purchase tickets, head HERE.

Reviewer attended on Saturday May 27th, 2023.

Header image credit: David Hooley