Mamma Mia!

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Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:19 pm

Just got home from watching the Oslo production of "Mamma Mia!".



Admittedly I'm a bigger fan of the movie than the stage production. I usually feel partial to stage productions, and I dunno what bugs me about stage!Mamma Mia. It just don't click with me.

When that is said, the Norwegian production is excellent. I assume most of the costumes and sets came from the Stockholm production, they look very fresh and new and funky. Cast is also good, some are exceptionally good (Heidi Gjermundsen Broch as Donna is one of the exceptionally good ones, her "The winner takes it all" and "Slipping through my fingers" are almost unequalled). But the real treat:

Anders Eljas!!!! Very Happy I'll come back to that...

First, I've wanted to see this production since it opened in March. It's the first full-scale, grand, West End quality musical opening in Oslo since "Cats" and "Les Mis" in the 80's (that's my opinion, anyway). But I haven't been able to afford a ticket, until today. I strolled into the theatre half an hour before the show started, and they had a ticket for the center second row. Of course I grabbed it! Turned out it was the productions 150 performance this evening. No celebrations of any sort, but all of the original cast performed, which was fun.

The theatre is the old royal opera, renovated back into its Art Nouveau-like original state.


The grand staircase

When finding my seat, I found myself less than two meters from Anders Eljas (AKA "Anders-Eljas-one-of-the-master-minds-behind-the-ABBA-musicals"). He was conducting that night, and also playing the keyboard. I'm a big, big fan of him, so I almost watched him conducting and playing more than I watched those on stage... Laughing


This is how close I sat to Anders Eljas all the show. Marvellous to see him in action!

The show itself was as it always is - great music, thin story, characters depending a lot on whoever is performing, nice "minimalistic" sets and way too low Greek flair (OK, I'm a grecophile and always wish for more Greek details... Ha-ha!). It was cool to hear it in Norwegian, very good lyrics, surprisingly poetic and true to the original lyrics.

I wish I could say more about this particular performance. But I really paid more attention to the name Eljas than anyone else... And before the second act started, I swallowed all my pride, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he would sign my programme. And he sure did:


He even added a short vocal score drawing, of the opening notes from "Mamma Mia!", bless him. I decided I wasn't going to ask him everything I wanted to ask (thousands of things), as I didn't want him to feel like he had an obsessive fan breathing him in the neck for the second act.... sunny It might be true, but I tried to act normal, he-he.



"Sam" prancing around to collect money for "pink ribbon" (breastcancer awareness campaign). Precious!



The guy running the theatre is obsessed with depictions of beautiful women. Therefore there's lots of dubious half-naked female statues; one is this creative Kate-Moss-doing-yoga sculpture. It's supposed to make the viewer feel uneasy; to make us reflect over our need to study celebrities in detail. It works...


Yeah... lots of Eljas, little specific about this production. That reflects my view on "Mamma Mia!" the stage musical. But feel free to ask, if there's any particular details you're curious about. Smile

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:51 pm

Nerdy fact from the "Mamma Mia!" movie:

Kalokairi (the island where Donna's inn is) means "summer" in Greek, and is pronounced "Kalokeeri". It is a fictional island; as most of you probably know, the mainly filmed the movie on the neighbor islands Skopelos and Skiathos.

Only posting this because I miss Greece (Hellas!) like crazy!

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:20 am

http://www.mamma-mia.com/denmark/denmark.asp

Mamma Mia to open in Copenhagen. I think the Oslo (Folketeateret) production is closing in December, and that the costumes and sets will be shipped on to Copenhagen.

I've heard Phantom is one of the musicals on Folketeateret's list for a new, grand musical.... What a Face But I would be surprised if they manage to put such a production together for the coming season. They haven't announced anything yet, and even if the season starts in February or even March they should have announced something by now if it's of the caliber of Phantom. Shouldn't they?

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  Scorp on Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:07 am

operafantomet wrote:
I've heard Phantom is one of the musicals on Folketeateret's list for a new, grand musical.... What a Face But I would be surprised if they manage to put such a production together for the coming season. They haven't announced anything yet, and even if the season starts in February or even March they should have announced something by now if it's of the caliber of Phantom. Shouldn't they?

Really? I hope they do an replica production if so... Not that there's anything wrong with a non-replica production, but if you end up with what they did in Poland I'd rather the thing didn't exist (IMHO)!

You should submit your Norwegian translation of the libretto! How cool would it be to be on the credit list for the Norwegian production?

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  Callie Daae on Mon Nov 02, 2009 8:39 pm

I've heard the movie is better than on stage. Is that true? Smile

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:48 pm

Callie Daae wrote:I've heard the movie is better than on stage. Is that true? Smile
Well, I think so. I usually prefer stage musicals to movie musicals, but I think the movie captured the whole... atmosphere in a rather excellent way. I much prefer it to the stage version (and I have seen two rather smashing casts, so I can't blame it on poor casting).

Scorp, I agree with you on replica VS non-replica. Especially since Maria Bjørnson was half Norwegian. If a Norwegian production skipped her beautiful design, I would be deeply ashamed. However, I learned today that Folketeateret will house a touring production in spring 2010, and produce one of their own in autumn 2010. The guy I talked to knew which one, but couldn't tell me. Alas! But he said they'd be auditioning people in a not too long time, so I guess it'll be out soon. I X my fingers!!

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  Phantomlove on Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:50 am

No Phantom in Oslo until at the very earliest spring 2011 if I can have my way. Autumn 2011 would be even better What a Face . I want to be able to see it.

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:14 am

Oh, that's true! Hmmm....

Found an article: http://oslopuls.aftenposten.no/kunst_scene/article263146.ece

It basically tells the same as above, but it also say they've chosen a musical which has never played in Norway before. And my source tells me it'll be a highly commercial one. That rules out most of Sondheim (his commercial stuff has been performed, his non-commercial stuff is too unknown). It also rules out most of Andrew Lloyd Webber (except.... you know...). And Wicked is to play in Copenhagen....

Spamalot? Phantom? Mary Poppins (taking over the sets/costumes from Copenhagen)?

But I know one thing. The owner of the theatre also dreams of Phantom:

- Hva setter dere opp etter Mamma Mia?
- Det har jeg ikke noe svar på. Vi får ha denne premieren først. Jeg har noen drømmer. Phantom… nei. En ting av gangen, sier han bestemt.


( http://www.aktivioslo.no/christianringnes.php )

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  Phantomlove on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:45 am

That first article you linked to said something about having audition in October, that should be done now then I guess. Shouldn't that mean that they should have publicized which musical they are playing?

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:51 am

Phantomlove wrote:That first article you linked to said something about having audition in October, that should be done now then I guess. Shouldn't that mean that they should have publicized which musical they are playing?
I think auditions were a tad postponed, but either how they should reveal something very soon!

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  MlleMusique on Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:04 am

Shocked Ok, so I'm having a little freaky moment here...I could have sworn blind I posted somewhere on this forum about the Aussie production of Mamma Mia, and how David Somerville was going to be in it. I announced I'd just bought tickets and someone asked me to write a review when I got back. Well, I can't find those posts anywhere, which is freaking me out a little....but anyway, for those who are actually interested, last night I saw Mamma Mia in Sydney, indeed with David. Here is my review. And if anyone wants to see my stage door photos, I'll post those, too.

19th November, 2009
Lyric Theatre, Sydney
Evening Performance

Donna: Anne Wood
Sophie: Suzie Mathers
Rosie: Lara Mulcahy
Tanya: Jennifer Vuletic
Sam: Michael Cormick
Bill: Peter Hardy
Harry: Robert Grubb
Sky: David Somerville

Whew! Well, last night I went and saw Mamma Mia with the whole family and it was FABULOUS! It’s a show that’s SO energised, colourful, loud, boisterous and FUN! And hence the frequent use of capital letters! Before the show they announced “those with a nervous disposition, please be advised that platform shoes and sparkly lycra will be featured in this performance.” They also should have mentioned rib trauma from laughing…this show strikes a perfect balance between side-spitting laughter, jokes-with-double-meanings and enough serious, poignant moments to effectively show a duel-generation story. But you have to like ABBA’s music…a lot.
But I love ABBA, so that wasn’t a problem! I was VERY excited about seeing Mamma Mia because of David Somerville, who as I mentioned understudied Raoul in the Australasian tour of Phantom; I was lucky enough to see him perform the role opposite Ana Marina’s Christine and boy, that was truly a treat! The chemistry they had and….yeah, that’s another story.
Also in the cast, I was thrilled to discover was Nadia Komazec (who played Meg in the aforementioned production) as an ensemble member. She really stood out with her incredible energy and amazing dancing (well, everyone was an amazing dancer, but anyway…)
After the show I dragged my mother and sister to the stage door, and met everyone in the above cast list, except Jennifer (who played Tanya), which was disappointing. Everyone was so lovely, especially Peter, Robert and Lara, and all were more than happy to sign autographs and take photos.
After a bit of a memory jog, David remembered me from the stage door at Phantom; we chatted a bit about the huge differences in the two shows, but how much fun both were. Then Nadia came out, and not only did she immediately recognise me, she asked me how I was, how was my uni course, etc! She is such a sweetheart, genuinely interested in the person and not just to accept further compliment about her performance. Poor thing; last time I met her she was suffering neck spasms, this time she was just getting over laryngitis! But all smiles regardless.
My whole family loved the show…in fact my mother liked it so much, she asked me to book tickets to go again! This is a very big thing for my mother…perhaps I’ve converted her to musicals?

OPINIONS OF THE CAST
Anne: She played Donna in the previous Aussie production of the show, so she’s a favourite in the role. She certainly has a capacity for comedy, and plays frazzled Donna delightfully, but she seems a touch weaker in the more poignant moments. Her voice is good, not a rich belter, but strong enough and suitably full of emotion. Sadly, her rendition of ‘The Winner Takes it All’ was a bit weak; it was as though she knew her voice wasn’t quite right for it, and she was too scared to belt in the latter part of the song. She spoke-sang a lot, too, which was good for emotion, but drew the songs out a bit too long.

Suzie: She was gorgeous, plump and energetic, with a solid belter voice that seemed to be able to sing any ABBA song, regardless of pitch, tempo or style! She was a joy to watch, with great chemistry with all of the cast. You really believed what you saw out of her. And all this, I was told by Anne at the stage door, whilst she had the flu!

Lara: Rosie has always been overshadowed by Tanya as my favourite female character, but I have to say, Lara’s performance was SO good, that I think she may have convinced me otherwise. With a beautiful strong voice, and just the right amount of growl, she effortlessly sang the part, and her acting and comedy were spectacular. The highlight was without a doubt ‘Take A Chance on Me’…whew, sizzling!

Jennifer: For those of you who have seen Mamma Mia the movie, Jennifer’s vocals bore a resemblance to Christine Baranski’s (who played Tanya in the film), but she very much made the character her own. She was SO tall, and her voice was rich, probably a mezzo; lovely to listen to. Her acting was also fabulous; she played off Lara and Anne beautifully. And Ben Nicholas, who played Pepper (‘Does Your Mother Know’, anyone?)

Michael: He played Sam incredibly well; his voice was a bit unusual; perhaps not entirely suited to pop music, but nevertheless he fleshed out the character wonderfully, and was a particularly powerful presence in the likes of ‘S.O.S’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’.

Peter: He has had prior experience with the role, and it showed. He played Bill with warmth and humour and his voice, from what I can remember was very good too. He was fantastic in ‘Take A Chance on Me’; his chemistry with Lara was excellent.

Robert: He possessed a dark, gravel-like voice that was an unusual surprise, but not entirely unfitting for the character. He had great chemistry with Anne, and ‘Our Last Summer’ provided ample opportunity to display his great theatrical skills.

David: What can I say about David? He’s gorgeous. He seemed even younger here than in Phantom, but his lush, elegant vocals hadn’t changed. In all honestly, his voice is probably far more suited to roles like Raoul, rather than ABBA’s pop music, but he gave ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ a triumphant stab, and since he stripped down to his undies in the process, I wasn’t complaining . His Sky was sweet, supportive and loving towards Sophie and yet just as strong in comedic moments with mates Pepper and Eddie.

SCENE-BY-SCENE SYNOPSIS

*The annoying thing about the program (actually there was a brochure and a program, which was new, and exciting) was that they didn’t list the songs in order of appearance, and they didn’t list who sang what. So if I put a scene out of order, I apologise in advance.

Prologue/I Have A Dream
From the moment Suzie opened her mouth, I knew she was going to be a wonderful Sophie. Her voice held more depth and ‘guts’ than Amanda Seyfried, but I’m not stating Suzie was better, just more appropriate in a live theatre context (obviously, projection is everything). The set and scenery were interesting; a kind of minimalist approach; two pieces of set, modelled on basic Greek whitewashed walls which were rearranged according to scene and then props such as tables, chairs, a bed were added to indicate the setting of each song. The backdrop was a blue striped canvas onto which the moon was projected accordingly, and a silhouette of a tree was lowered to add a bit of depth.

Honey, Honey
Elise McCann and Hayley McCarthy, who played Ali and Lisa respectfully, provided great initial support, backup vocals and fabulous comedy, but they essentially became ensemble members for the rest of the show, which was disappointing. Elise in particular offered hysterical body language and actions during this song, which of course was word-for-word the movie dialogue (well it’s vice versa, I know, but I saw the film first…), but delivered in a distinctly different and independent way.

Money, Money, Money
The ‘Greek chorus’ was introduced here and the ensemble did a fabulous job of background vocals and mischief. The introductions between Rosie, Tanya and Sophie were nice, but a little static. Anne’s vocals in the song were good, but it was the overall theatrics of the scene that was most enjoyable.

Sophie’s first encounters with Sam, Bill and Harry were well played and amusing. Then they launched into ‘Thank You For the Music’, which was all very nice and feel-good, but a little bit unnecessary. There are a number of extra songs in the stage show than the movie, some of which I think didn’t really need to be there. TYFTM was definitely one of them.

Mamma Mia
What can I say? This was great; Anne’s acting was fabulous and this was one of her stronger numbers, vocally. The ensemble provided great backup in some highly amusing positions. I want to steal Donna’s drill…LOL.

Chiquitita
This is one of my favourite numbers, but it started out a bit too ‘predictably over-dramatic’. It picked up during the chorus, and Donna delivered her “try once more…” lines in a totally off-pitch, drunk voice, because Rosie and Tanya had given her the bottle of wine and encouraged her to drink it. Great photo of that moment in the program.

Dancing Queen
We really had a great audience for this show, and the women next to and in front of me were so enthusiastic; it really built a great atmosphere (in addition to the cast, of course). Everyone loved this song; it was fun, it was hysterically funny (dear god, the things Tanya was doing with the contents of the fruit bowl….) and it was bursting with energy. I wish they’d made it a longer number and incorporated the ensemble beyond unseen backing vocals, but oh well. I guess I’ve been spoilt by the film.

Lay All Your Love On Me
I loved this scene, and not just because it was raw sexual sensual tension. Vocally it was a very strong number, and just when I thought they were going to have to throw ice water over Sophie and Sky, in came the troupe of scuba-diving-gear-clad male chorus…and it all went to h€ll in hysterics. Fantastic dancing, and a beautiful transition into the girls’ chorus (hen’s night).

Super Trouper
Bring on the silver spandex! And mesmerising bell-bottoms and let’s talk about Rosie’s platform boots….Whew! very good number, backed up very well, great to look at…sparkly!

Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie!/The Name of the Game
This number was really an ensemble cover to keep the pace up whilst Sophie was confronted by each of her prospective fathers. They built the tension which was then abruptly halted for ‘The Name of the Game’, a number I don’t mind, but not in this show and definitely not in the middle of all of the upbeat, slightly apprehensive dance numbers. Beautifully sung by Sophie, but one of the more unnecessary numbers.

Voulez-Vous
This is one of ABBA’s songs that I never thought much of, until I saw Mamma Mia. Within the context of the show, this number is a perfect choice for Sophie’s rapidly building conundrum, and as a close for the first act, leaving audiences on a high. It’s a great dance number, showcasing the ensemble vocally and theatrically, and even the injections of frantic conversation between Sophie and Sam, Bill and Harry don’t slow the pace, as each realises who he is and agrees to give Sophie away at her wedding.

Interval

*The stage show features both an Overture and an Entr’acte. I can’t tell you how happy this made me . Gorgeous music, played by a live band (or an orchestra who incorporated band instruments; not sure which).

Under Attack
The second act opens with this number; Sophie trashing about in a nightmare as she realises the situation she’d gotten herself into. Amidst the ensemble, dressed in lime and hot pink swimming gear, Sophie sings and is confronted by a vision of herself as a bride—the white-clad figure glides through eons of dry ice towards the bed, only to pull off the veil and reveal themselves as Sky! (David in a corseted wedding gown which only came up to his waist? Sure to get a laugh, even amidst the tension). The scene ended with Sophie coming to with a scream, to find herself in the courtyard. Donna appears and their conversation about Sophie not wanting her children to grow up and not know their dad ensued. It left Donna alone, upon which Sam appeared.

One Of Us/S.O.S
This was another song I thought a bit redundant…we’d already established by this point that Donna felt scorned by Sam in particular, but that neither could deny there mightn’t still be feelings for one another. It was a nice song, but a bit of a time-filler; a lead in to ‘S.O.S’, which essentially reiterated the same message in a slightly different, albeit more obvious and eager way.

Does Your Mother Know?
A welcome transition from the serious to the comedic; another favourite of mine and a popular scene with the audience, too. Pepper was an impressive presence; his chemistry with Tanya provided ample opportunity for comedy and some seriously impressive dancing. Pepper demonstrated at least a half dozen split jumps in a row, after which he collapsed in a heap, and it was evident the feat had genuinely winded the actor as well as the character. Tanya was fabulous; her vocals were particularly impressive. A great scene.

Knowing Me, Knowing You
The lead-up to this song was Pepper and Eddie arriving in the morning with Sky, accompanied by bagpipes and fishing net. A nice little injection of slightly tense humour made way for the appearance of Sam again, to offer ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. Very well sung but unfortunately, it felt like we were just further pushing a point we were already well aware of.

Our Last Summer/Slipping Through My Fingers
Enter Harry, for a change, offering his (not so) ‘small wedding contribution’ to Donna. Conversation leads to a reminiscence played out as ‘Our Last Summer’, tender and understated with still room for a little humour, of course. Sophie arrives to break the moment and asks Donna to help her prepare for her wedding. As Harry leaves, Donna starts ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ the sure-fire song to have every mother in the audience in tears. Including mine. Very nice, very poignant, and potentially only overtaken on the sadness factor by the next song…

The Winner Takes It All
Well, you couldn’t write the funny, poignant story of Mamma Mia and not include TWTIA, could you? I hate to say it, but I was not tremendously impressed by Anne’s rendition of this song. As I mentioned before, it was as if she was aware her voice didn’t quite fit the song, and she spoke-sang it throughout, which would have been fine for the first verse or two, but it really felt like she needed to open out and belt towards the end. I sensed even the audience were a bit like, “oh, Donna’s going to sing the scorned, emotional ballad…again.”

Take A Chance on Me
This song took place in the chapel prior to the wedding, which I quite liked. Rosie and Bill were fantastic in this, unashamedly unleashing their passion and ending up in a very compromising position, to be walked in on by the start of the wedding guests! Most amusing was, post-Rosie-and-Bill-kiss, Rosie sat beside Tanya in a frozen daze of delight, whilst the guests around her stood and watched Sophie and Donna enter.

The ensemble’s reactions to the confrontation between Sophie, Donna and Sam, Bill and Harry were really funny…”I haven’t slept with hundreds of men…” Then Sam decides, after Sophie realises she’d rather travel now, marry later; why waste a good wedding? He proposes to Donna “it’s only the rest of your life!” and ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ makes an appearance, in a variation that’s considerably easier to swallow than the original (sorry, ABBA).

Unfortunately, there’s no rousing reception melody to get everyone dancing again. We melt directly into Sophie and Sky’s farewell with the reprise of ‘I Have A dream’. The slightly corny line-up of goodbye hugs and mystical atmosphere of the huge moon projection and dry ice were almost a bit amusing, but it was a sugar-sweet ending to the show.

After the curtain call, Donna, Rosie, Tanya, Sam, Bill and Harry all appeared in the classic sparkly lycra suits and the whole audience got on their feet for ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Dancing Queen’, and ‘Waterloo’. A bit worryingly, the auditorium was only about half full: the stalls were solid, but there were only a few rows in the Dress Circle (balcony 1) and the Grand Circle (balcony 2) wasn’t even open. We’re only a month into the run, and the show has at least 11 more weeks left…I’m wondering if the majority of the population didn’t see the show last time it was here.

But a GREAT show, overall. I’d happily see it again!

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:19 am

MlleMusique wrote:*The annoying thing about the program (actually there was a brochure and a program, which was new, and exciting) was that they didn’t list the songs in order of appearance, and they didn’t list who sang what. So if I put a scene out of order, I apologise in advance.
The Norwegian brochure/program do the same, so annoying! Who cares about alphabetical order when the songs are sung in a certain order to tell a story! I wonder if the program makers has a standard they need to follow when making them? Odd that it appears both in Norway and Australia, at least.

The cast sounds excellent, glad you enjoyed it! Very Happy

And I must say, "Mamma Mia!" is probably one of few musicals where I think the changes made for the movie adaption are excellent, while I still think the original placing of song is still excellent. Both versions works well - usually I think one version flawed and the other one superb/better. I love how "Take a chance on me" is done in the movie, but I also love how it's solved on stage. Ditto for "Our Last Summer".

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  aussiephan on Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:26 pm

Thanks for the wonderful review - will be seeing the show in Feb when it comes to Melbourne. Nice to hear Nadia K is in the cast as well as David S.

It must be a Mamma Mia programme thing - looked at the brochures I had for London and Melbourne back in 2001 - and both of them annoyingly had the same - songs listed alphabetically with no list of who performs them.

Have to agree with you operafantomet - both the stage and movie version of Mamma Mia are excellent in their own right - but then I am a sucker for Abba's music Smile It is such a fun show to see.

Bonnie

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:46 am

Seems like a tour is visiting Oslo this autumn, from October 28 to October 30 (doing 5 performances). Then they're heading off to Bergen in Western Norway for 5 performances in early November. They will of course perform in English, while the Oslo production was in Norwegian.
http://www.billettservice.no/mamma-mia%21-%28touring%29-billetter/artist/34218

"Mamma Mia!" will also open in Copenhagen from October 15 to December 31. This is a Danish languaged production, but I haven't heard anything about the cast yet:
http://www.tivoli.dk/composite-8316.htm

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Re: Mamma Mia!

Post  operafantomet on Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:11 pm

The Copenhagen production of "Mamma Mia!" opened October 15, to great success. Very positive reviews, and for the first time in a trizillion years Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvæus appeared together in an ABBA event. They claimed the reason was that she is afraid of flying, but Denmark is within train/car reach and that's why she appeared. It's not like she showed up in Oslo last year... But we had Benny Andersson instead, AND Anders Eljas as conductor, which I think is even cooler. Wink

The production is scheduled for a very short run, they play out December only. But they got all sets and costumes from Oslo, so I guess the main expenses is paying the cast & crew and paying for locations.

Video from the opening night here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rypNBfZkDhI

In the mean time, Oslo is visited by the International tour. I would go if tickets didn't cost $€$€$€, and the location wasn't as dull, and if I liked the stage version better... In other words, I wouldn't go unless I got free tickets. Laughing I would like to see Matthew Cammelle as Harry Bright, though.

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