Whenever someone mentions ABBA, it brings up happy childhood memories. Of my brother, my cousins and me enjoying songs sung by this retro swedish pop band. I especially loved listening to “Eagle” and “Voulezvous” while “Mamma Mia” was another favorite. (yeah! all this before rock music lured us away!:))We would pretend to be pop singers and sing our versions of their songs, prancing around an imaginary stage with appreciative audiences! .
When I got a chance to watch Mamma Mia – the musical, during a holiday in Dubai, I was taken back in time. I guess there is always a certain nostalgia and sentimentality in a place and time you’ve moved away from!
Mamma Mia is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson based on the songs of ABBA. The title of the musical is taken from one of the group’s chart-topper’s Mamma Mia. I also found out that various versions of the show exists in 14 different languages and was also made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in 2008. And yeah, ABBA is the acronym of the first letters of the band members’ first names – Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
The story of Mamma Mia is set on a mythical Greek Island called Kalokairi where Sophie, a 20-year-old is about to get married. But a question has been troubling her all her life – who is her real father?. It is this question that triggers off a series of incidents leading to the arrival of three men to the taverna run by Sophie’s mother Donna and in the process turning her idyllic life upside down. Sophie’s best friends, her fiancé Sky and arrival of other friends and natives who are there for the wedding lead to many a song and dance, quite literally! All performed to songs from the rich repertoire of ABBA’s music cleverly woven into the story.
The beauty of the story besides the awesome music is for all ages. It was a full house and I saw people of different generations at the Dubai World trade center auditorium. This was the ultimate feel-good tale of love conquering all is what makes this un-cynical and compelling story such a hit 15+ years on!
I really enjoyed the music, the humor, the burst of colors – with the set design and costumes, the wonderful choreography and amazing vocals for two and half hours especially by the leads – Sarah Poyzer playing Donna, and Niamh Perry, as Sophie. The cast made it a fun show. Some of the groom’s friends were phenomenal dancers, the way they moved was indescribable as they leaped and bounded across the stage. I had to stop myself singing along to each and every song. The songs so loved by our parents, us and now I can see my nieces being amazed by the magic of ABBA and see history kind of repeating itself when I hear the little ones singing their versions of “I have a dream” or a “Dancing queen“:). I guess their music is evergreen.
After the final bows to the audience, the cast performed to a final set of ABBA songs, full of sequined jumpsuits and disco beats. It was quite a spectacle and this was where the audience joined in – clapping, dancing and singing out loud. It was a full on concert!
We couldn’t click any pictures in the auditorium as there was a request right at the beginning of the performance from the authorities requesting us not to; but with the amazing time we had, I didn’t miss it that much!
When the show ended, the thoughts that surrounded me as we slowly trudged back home was that it was indeed a wonderful tribute to ABBA where we collectively said “thank you for the music...” 🙂 .