Printable CopyMAMMA MIA!
Pulteney Grammar School
Norwood Concert Hall
Until 28 May 2022

Review by Brendan Watts

If you are fortunate enough to have secured a ticket for the Pulteney Grammar School’s production of “Mamma Mia!”, then you will be in for an amazing show. The production team and cast have overcome countless rehearsal challenges and other issues that arose due to covid, and the result is an energetic production full of vibrant costumes, animated dance movements and high-quality vocals.

The dance, music and drama captains should be justifiably proud of their cohorts, as their performances were well rehearsed and confidently delivered. The authenticity and depth of the main characters allowed the audience to lose themselves in the story and be carried along for the musical journey. As someone who has also performed in this particular musical, I am well aware of the musical complexity faced by the chorus and that only makes the finished performance all the more admirable.

Charlaina Thompson, with the Yr 12 Prefects and the entire FOH team, provided an amazingly warm welcome, efficiently guiding us to our seats with their broad smiles most evident even behind the masks.

As the audience entered they were greeted into an idyllic atmosphere of taverna style outdoor seating in front of the stage and the traditional blue and white backdrop, beautifully accentuated by the hues and decorations surrounding the dress circle and the sides of the theatre.

The minimal, yet highly effective set, made good use of the stage, allowing the large cast of 84 maximum space to express themselves and their choreography. Nick Challans design supported the staging and choreography well and the subtle lighting provided an added layer of detail to the set during certain scenes. The projection of background images was quite effective, adding further depth and colour to the stage. The Lighting design was immaculate, providing a diversity of environments from the nightmarish scenes of “Under Attack” and dance club feel of “Super Trouper”, to the subtle night-time hues during Sophie’s final reprise of “I Have a Dream”.

The Stage Crew were efficient and their set changes seamless, enabling the story to flow without large delays. In addition, the live orchestra provided a depth and richness of sound that is not found in recorded soundtracks. Combined with eye-catching costumes that were faithful to the characters, the chorus provided a depth of sound that would have made Madi Schubert and Joaquin Velasco (Music Captains) proud of their efforts. Their ability to create a visual tapestry of different characters also added a rich depth to the stage during their numbers.

The members of the dance team delivered the amazing, full-stage choreography with precision timing and enthusiasm. A particular crowd favourite was their interpretation of the traditional flipper dance sequence during “Lay Your Love On Me” during the second Act.

The named characters all provided convincing characterisation, utilising vibrant expressions and delivering both their lines and lyrics clearly.

Abbey Wilkinson (Lisa) and Isabella Haarsma (Ali) fully encompassed the energy of their characters, providing strong vocal and physical support during the show. Likewise, the character roles of Eddie (Liam Goodes) and Pepper (Hamish Wilkinson) were convincing and injected essential vitality into their scenes. Jack Hooper (Father) also impressed the audience during his brief appearance in the role.

Patrick Longden (Sky) delivered a confident performance as the groom to be, highlighted during his duet in “Lay Your Love On Me”. Addi Schwartz (Rosie) and Harry Oates (Bill) both tapped in well to the relaxed vibes of their characters, demonstrating strong comedic timing during their scenes together. Similarly, Madi Schubert (Tanya) embraced her character’s posh persona and made it her own. In the role of Harry, Finn Boylen’s vocal strengths were put on show when he sang “Thank You For The Music” and “Our Last Summer”.

Oscar Bridges (Sam) is a genuine “triple threat” and his experience of singing at community events shone through with his confident portrayal of the beloved role.

Special mention must be retained for the leading roles of Donna (Ella Wood) and Sophie (Taylor Schwartz), both of which displayed excellent vocal control and range during their songs. They drew the attention of the audience and held it, demonstrating a stage presence beyond their years.

The only minor distraction from an otherwise enchanting performance was a noticeable delay in several scenes with the sound technology, making it difficult for the audience to hear the start of some vocal passages.

In conclusion a most enjoyable evening of theatre, combining authentic characters, strong vocal performances and a supporting cast that were obviously enjoying every minute of the show. It was well-deserving of the standing ovation that it received!