Annemarie is the magazines editor and regular columnist for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Review: Mamma Mia

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Cameron Buchanan as Sky sing Lay All Your Love on Me. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics
Cameron Buchanan as Sky sing Lay All Your Love on Me. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics

Baycourt Theatre, September 9 to 24. Presented by Tauranga Musical Theatre. Ticket prices: $34 - $59, phone 0800842538 or go to www.ticketek.co.nz

Dig out your sequined jumpsuits and dust off your platformed heels and get ready to boogie - the Abba classic musical Mamma Mia is being given a new lease of life at Baycourt where a 40-strong talented cast of some of the Bay's best musical talent roll out 14 shows over two weeks.

The musical, which weaves in Abba's best known sing-a-long anthems, takes place on the small Greek island of Kalokairi during the preparations for Sophie's wedding. Sophie wants her father to walk her down the aisle - but which one of Donna's three ex-boyfriends is it? Sophie poses as her mother and writes to invite the three men to her wedding. And they all arrive, much to Donna's horror when she sees them for the first time in 20 years.

Jazzy Axton takes on the role of Sophie with Otumoetai College drama and singing teacher Petrina Chisholm in the role of Donna Sheridan.

With a live band vigorously conducted and strong unseen vocalists backing the powerful performers on stage, it was a high energy musical extravaganza.

Chisholm has a beautiful and versatile voice - although the songs are all well known and sung by plenty, some are hugely vocally challenging -yet Chisholm tackles them with obvious skill and her presence commands the stage.

Nadine Tibbits and Mandy Rowe are a hilarious riot as Donna's pals Tanya and Rosie. Fraser Graham as Sam, Chris Traill as Bill Austin and Brendon Weatherly as Harry Bright cleverly convey their contrasting characters through voice and provide plenty of laughs. Jazzy Axton enchants as Sophie.

Jazzy Axton, 16, playing the character of Sophie Sheridan. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics
Jazzy Axton, 16, playing the character of Sophie Sheridan. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics

But perhaps the real stars of the show are the high energy ensemble - who bound on stage like a Greek chorus with colourful costumes and impressive choreography. They are all so in character that its hard to take your eyes off some of them. The boys in particular had the audience laughing out loud at their antics -and their tendency to parade around in their togs.

A particular stand out on stage is the cheeky Pepper played by a somersaulting flirtatious Sam Graham (Does Your Mother Know, Sam?).

Money Money Money. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics
Money Money Money. Photo/ Chris Parker Photographics

This is the first production of Tauranga Musical Theatre at Baycourt for two years and more than 100 volunteers have been working to bring it to fruition for more than a year. Among the cast are teachers, nurses, students, school kids, real estate agents -bubbling in talent, this is grassroots community theatre at professional standards that will impress any die-hard Mamma Mia fan as well as newcomers to the show.

You will want to jump on stage and get under those disco balls and sing along.

Thank you for the music.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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