Sophie McCarlie as Donna sings Money Money Money in Mamma Mia. Photo: Supplied.

REVIEW: Mamma Mia hits the right notes at Theatre Royal


Theatre Royal, Thursday 2 July

Nelson Youth Theatre Company

Reviewed by Annetta Zelley

If you know anything about the 70s Swedish pop sensation ABBA, you’ll know they are devilishly good at coming up with a catchy tune. This effervescent musical, which takes its name from one of ABBA’s many hits, is chock-full of them.

The plot revolves around the upcoming wedding of Sophie (played by Olivia Murray) and her beau, Sky (Joel Sangster), taking place at her mother Donna’s, taverna on a beautiful Greek island.

However, Sophie doesn’t know the identity of her father, so has secretly invited three possible contenders to her wedding, in the hope that one of them will walk her down the aisle.

The narrative is woven neatly around a collection of recognisable and – dare I say it again – catchy ABBA hits. The opening number, I Have a Dream, sets the scene for Sophie’s scheme and her twin hopes of romantic and familial fulfillment.

A couple of songs later, Sophie McCarlie as Donna delivered the first of many standout solo performances with Money Money Money. Her rich and powerful voice effortlessly hits all the notes at a perfect pitch.

The show really comes to life in the ensemble numbers, with vibrant costumes and choreography to match the energy of the performers. There is also a joyful vein of humour running through, such as in Lay All Your Love on Me where the arrival of the stag party complete with snorkels and flippers saw the audience break into laughter as well as a spontaneous clapping rhythm.

ABBA songs may be easy on the ear but they require a range and control that will test many a singer. This impressively talented cast rose to the challenge with verve and vitality, bringing warmth and cheer to a cold winter’s night.

Mamma Mia runs until 11 July, tickets are available from the Theatre Royal or