Showbiz Queenstown's Mamma Mia! was hilarious, fun and made me want to dance:

The enormity of taking on one of the world's most popular musicals in Showbiz Queenstown's most challenging production to date clearly rattled a few nerves as the cast of Mamma Mia! took to the stage on opening night, on Wednesday.

However, by the time they arrived at the title track the warm up was over and the high energy and sequin clad gloriousness of Abba had the audience hooked.

Things really took off as Donna Sheridan, played by Queenstown favourite Tiffany Mitchell, cowed under the covers while best mates Tanya (Nicole McLean) and Rosie (Jules Molloy) hit their straps as the hilarious duo trying to coax her out with Chiquitita. McLean and Molloy deserve special mention for their comic timing and the interaction between their characters. Every time they stepped on the stage they were deliciously funny. 

The disco favourite Dancing Queen saw members of the audience begin to join in the dancing while Lay All Your Love on Me began with an intimate moment between the bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan (played by the accomplished Sophie Morris) and her groom, Sky (a relative newcomer to the stage, Andrew Bell) and finished with the male members of the ensemble dancing in wetsuits and flippers - a feat both skillful and side-stitchingly funny.

The Mamma Mia! story is set around preparations for the wedding ceremony for Sophie and Sky on a romantic Greek Island. Unbeknown to her mother Donna, Sophie has invited the three men she believes may be her father, in the hope that she will discover her real father and he will walk her down the aisle.

As Act One concludes the characters are managing to piece things together incorrectly and the magnificent yet slightly dark, Voulez-Vouswraps around the confusion and the hen's party. An exceptionally clever collaboration between the director Doug Kamo, musical director Sam van Betuw and choreographer Anna Stuart and a high point in the show. 

Act Two gave the lead characters more solo opportunities including for Sam Carmichael, played by Showbiz stalwart Marty Newell, who had a singing voice that would impress Pierce Brosnan's critics. Brosnan was widely criticised for his vocals in the movie version.

Bill Austin (Justin Abbiss​) and Harry Bright (Conan Wilcox) were perfectly cast, as was the delightfully flirtatious Dan Lewis as Pepper.

By the time Waterloo was wrapping up the action, much of the crowd had taken to their dancing feet to join the party. It was difficult to say who was having more fun - the audience or the cast.

With so many young people, including many Wakatipu High School students, in the cast and ensemble, Showbiz Queenstown has not only proved it has the goods to deliver on a large scale now, it appears to have the talent it needs to keep growing in the years ahead.

                                                                                                                   - Debbie Jamieson