Sellout shows three weeks before opening night suggested that the Taupō community had high expectations for Centre Stage Taupō's latest production, the Tall Poppy season of the musical Mamma Mia!.
The show opened at the Great Lake Centre last Saturday and runs until this Saturday night, with a cast of 33 and a crew of many more, including a band and backing singers.
With so many moving parts and such a well-known story and music, Mamma Mia! is an ambitious production to pull off but Centre Stage has already shown it has form in this area, with its successful production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in 2018.
And from the first rollicking number, Honey Honey, to the lump-in-the-throat-inducing Slipping Through My Fingers, the cast showed they had the singing, dancing and acting chops to pull this one off too.
Because while from the outside it may look easy, not only are many of the songs tricky to sing, the whole show has to be held together by great music and strong acting between the musical numbers. In addition, the leads and the 21 extras all had to dance their way through 24 songs, some with very challenging choreography (flippers, anyone?), which was pulled off flawlessly.
With such a strong cast it's hard to single anybody out too much but standing ovations must go to all the main leads, particularly Giselle (Donna) Clements, who won thunderous applause for her rendition of The Winner Takes It All and whose lovely voice also harmonised beautifully with Stephen (Sam) Ross's in their duet SOS. Pam Seymour's comic turn as Tanya almost stole the show and seeing year 13 student Joseph Sutherland playing (and performing some very tricky moves) as Pepper the barman made you understand why the NZ Young Shakespeare Company selected the aspiring young actor to go to the Globe Theatre in London next year.
The whole thing wound up with a rollicking, sparkling finale that had the audience clapping, singing and in some cases dancing along to end the show on a high. It showed that the faith of director Sharon Shanks and the ticket-buying public that there was enough talent in Taupō for Centre Stage to put on a top-notch Mamma Mia! had been fully justified.
What: Mamma Mia! by Centre Stage Taupō
Where: Great Lake Centre
When: On now until Saturday, June 26
Tickets: sold out
Reviewed by: Laurilee McMichael