Smash-hit musical’s big night bonanza

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If opening weekend is anything to go by then bosses behind Mamma Mia’s summer season in Blackpool are well on their way to success.

A near-capacity audience in the famous Opera House on their feet singing and dancing or laughing and clapping along to a hit West End show is a dream come true for many.

This show, based on the hits of Swedish pop group Abba, is the ultimate feel-good production, firing out one gold-plated hit after another.

There’s more to it than just fun, though.

Following 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan’s search for her father ahead of a big white wedding to Skye, the show visits themes of loss, love, belonging, friendship, family and new beginnings.

The arrival of Sophie’s bridesmaids on her Greek Island home, Skye’s boisterous antics with pals Eddie and Pepper, and the return of Tanya and Rosie for the reformation of Donna and the Dynamos give it that added sparkle.

Its physical humour and camped-up, raunchy jokes are nailed-on crowd pleasers in a party town like Blackpool and each of the show’s stars clearly feeds off the audience reaction.

In fact, Blackpool’s very own Ashley Luke Lloyd, giving his all as Eddie, gets as many of the laughs as any of the lead characters.

The return of Harry Bright, Sam Carmichael and Bill Austin, long-lost lovers of pensive mother-of-the-bride Donna Sheridan give the story its 
narrative and three well-honed and amusing performances, not least from Aussie Austin.

As the mother-daughter relationship is tested there’s hardly a dry eye in the house through the song Slipping Through My Fingers.

Playwright Catherine Johnson has weaved the works of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus into a show that can be as cheesy as it is charming and has gone down in the musical theatre history books as one of the best ever.

Its original stage version has already been seen by more than 54 million worldwide, and perhaps as many again through its 2008 film adaptation, which boasted an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Colin 

While that may have left some question marks over the show’s relevance or originality in being brought to Blackpool this summer, after debuting in London back in 1999, there’s a simpler view... if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Live performance lends so much more than celluloid.

There are numbers left out of the film that performed on stage allow for the costume department, already wowing with Super Trouper outfits complete with 33,000 rhinestones, to show off even more prowess.

Dancers never missing a beat, singers making your hair stand on end – everything you’d expect from the company of a world-touring smash-hit show.

For those who perhaps enjoyed dinner and a glass of wine basking in the sunshine outside a café in the attractive St John’s Square or Cedar Square before strolling across to see a hit musical in ‘the home of entertainment’, it was a pinch-yourself moment. Hopefully not a one-off.