Regent Theatre, Dunedin 2015

Outstanding local production of 'Mamma Mia!' goes down a treat:

"Mamma Mia!, a brilliantly staged, piping-hot romantic comedy brimming with Abba hits (Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus), opened a season in Dunedin's Regent Theatre, on Thursday evening, presented by Taieri Musical Society and DKCM Ltd.

A magnificent set with villa facades, and timber jetty extending over the pit, transported the audience to a Greek Island, where on the eve of her wedding, a bride's quest to discover her father's identity brings back three men from her mother's past.

Director Douglas Kamo rolled out a fabulous Abba overload of non-stop singing and dancing, fantastic costuming (Margaret Flockton), dazzling lighting and unbelievably energised choreography by Emma Holloway. Production manager is Helen Horsnell.

All the leads were stars. Ali Harper (Christchurch) heads a dynamic cast, playing Donna Sheridan, single mother of daughter Sophie (Georgia Baker). Recently returned from theatrical success in the United Kingdom, Russell Dixon takes the role of Sam Carmichael, and with Callum Proctor (Harry Bright) and Colin Spicer (Bill Anderson), play the three possible fathers to Donna's daughter. Harriet Moir and Megan Martin excel in delivering much of the humour through their interpretations of the mother's friends, Rosie and Tanya.

Other principals are Victoria Bernard (Lisa), Ailis Oliver-Kerby (Ali), Evan Fenemor (Sky), Andrew Coshan (Pepper) and Benjamin Moorhouse (Eddie), plus a vibrant company of 17.

The music was exhilarating. A 13-voice (off-stage) backing group and nine-piece band directed by Stuart Walker, with sound tech Jonny Keating, produced an extremely professional, (at times very authentic) blend, but they were not acknowledged in the extended curtain call reprise, when some lower floor patrons danced in the aisles.

The score includes 23 Abba numbers such as Honey Honey, Money, Money Money, Thank You For the Music, Dancing Queen, Super Trouper, Voulez-Vous and, of course, Mamma Mia. The large opening-night audience loved them all. Spontaneous clapping during big chorus numbers and a final standing ovation rewarded this spectacular fast-moving show."

 - Elizabeth Bouman, Otago Dailty Times