Review: Glen Innes Arts Council's 'Mamma Mia!' an escape for the evening

Review: 'Mamma Mia!' an escape for the evening

Drought! Fire! Stress! What do our community members need? An escape - even just for an evening. What fulfils this need? Mamma Mia!

Glen Innes Arts Council's production runs at the the Chapel Theatre from November 20 to December 7.

This is a show for all the family. The story is built around 24 famous ABBA songs that will take some members back to their youth in 1972, when the now world famous group formed in Stockholm, Sweden. Younger audience members will be entranced anew.

This is one of the most popular musicals of the last 20 years, still playing worldwide to sold out audiences.

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The Glen Innes Arts Council has been lucky as a small amateur group to get the rights, but locals are more than lucky to be able to access such a superb production.

Producers Col and Susy Woods made a first class decision when they elected to do Mamma Mia - so suitable for the time and place, and with such a large, enthusiastic cast.

Artistic directors George Muckenschnabel and Nigel Brown interpreted the script with a vision that gave the cast, both leads and chorus members, an opportunity to participate in a lively, entertaining show that was fun yet tested their commitment and ability. ABBA would be very pleased with the end result!

The plot is easy to follow - a 'Soapie', really. To quote the very professional program, it's about "a mother, a daughter, three possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you will never forget".

The story is told in some dialogue, but mostly revelations about the characters emerge through the song lyrics.

The playwrights skillfully linked 24 individually produced songs to create a credible storyline that enabled the soloists and chorus members to immerse themselves in realistic characters.

My favourites are too numerous to mention all, but the performances of Nicole Schaefer (Donna), Tahleia Gerlofsma (Tanya), Naomi Bain (Rosalie), and Bree Emery (Sophie) were quite outstanding.

Tahleia, a newcomer to the stage, most certainly will be sought after for both her singing and her acting, as will Bree, another highly talented newcomer.

Bradley Alley deserves to be commended for stepping only recently into the young lead role as Sky, Bree's fiancé. His confidence will grow with every performance. What a future they have on the stage!

The music

Kath Duddy has emerged as an exceptional musical director and pianist in showcasing the music of the Swedish group ABBA.

ABBA sowed the seeds in the 70's of evergreen songs like Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me, The Winner Takes It All, and SOS.

The three leading ladies Nicole Schafer (Donna), Tahleia Gerlofsma (Tanya), Naomi Bain (Rosie) and their unsuspecting "fathers" Jay Post (Sam), George Muchenshnabel (Harry), Rodney Murray (Bill) brilliantly express the feelings of happiness, uncertainty and fun.

The scenes use music to lead us through the complexities of life with hints of betrayal, misunderstanding, subterfuge and intrigue among the songs.

All this revolves around the young couple Bree Emery (Sophie) and Bradley Alley (Sky) whose problematic wedding is being arranged with a delightful array of solos and duets.

Expressive harmonies bring such depth and interest to the 30-strong chorus who support the leads with intertwining parts and expressive dance moves. The off-stage chorus vocals develop atmosphere often difficult to develop on stage.

The band of Shani Core (synthesiser/keyboard), BJ Arthur (bass), Mal Hall (guitar), and Scott Macansh (drums) has been developed into a musically sensitive group to rival any professional group of musos.

Don't miss seeing a once in a lifetime production of Mumma Mia. Don't Have Regrets!

Mamma Mia! Show with music and lyrics by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, some songs by Stig Anderson, based on a book by Catherine Johnson originally conceived by Judy Cramer. Ticket bookings on-line at www.giac.com.au or Carelles; further enquiries to theatre@giac.com.au.