On my way to the Murray Bridge Town Hall I stopped and had a brief chat with a local taxi driver. He informed me that the Townhall production of “Mamma Mia” was an “absolute corker”! And he was on the money; it was!!
Joint directors Robyn Bates and Trent Baker together with a talented production team have done their Murraylands community proud. The set, designed by Robyn Bates, is simple, eminently practical, and redolent of a Greek villa with its open courtyard plan and mediterranean colours. The small but very effective orchestra is directed by Peta Davis. The combination of central keyboards together with guitar and percussion provides the perfect toe-tapping beat. The music easily and subtly underpins the ambience of the production. Movement throughout is a knockout! Choregraphy by Abby McIntosh is deceptively simple. Its design enhances the performance with a natural fluidity. Routines are very well drilled and the influence of a couple of key dance leaders (particularly Hamish Plummer as Pepper) is obvious. The costume team lead by Cathy Schiller and Olivia Grinter produce an array of garments that complement both set and setting. I must also make mention of scene changes which are absolutely seamless, and, even though sets are economical, the subtle settings are most effective and ideal for the continuity of the piece. “Mamma Mia!” is a terrific team effort not only by those mentioned above but by everybody involved in this production.
As an ensemble the cast is terrific. Shake a country community upside down and a veritable wealth of theatrical and musical talent, often unexpected, is bound to be revealed. Eboni Parst as Donna makes the character and the stage her own. Her beautifully relaxed performance, her clear and true voice together with her apt characterisation is a pleasure to experience. The audience loves her. She is most ably supported by her old fellow performers, Mari Reu as Tanya and Cathy Miegel as Rosie. As a trio, and as individual characters, they entertain with polished performances. I particularly liked their version of “Super Trouper”. Breigh Angove makes an ideal Sophie and with her opening delivery of “I have a Dream” sets a high bench mark for the musical play to unfold. Her stage work throughout is exemplary. She too is ably supported by her two ideally cast pals, Ali (Tenille Schulz) and Lisa (Lorelle Barton). Their routines are a joy to observe and listen to. The friendship trios of both Mother(Eboni) and Daughter (Sophie) effect some lovely harmonies. Sophie’s three possible fathers, Harry (Martin Altmann), Bill (Noel Kneebone) and Sam (Steve Mattner) are also well cast and play off each other beautifully. They evoke just the right level of chemistry on stage. Each of the menfolk gives of their best in both voice and character interpretation. So too does Alex Pfeiffer as Sophie’s intended husband Sky. Alex looks good on stage and moves well too. He will gain much from this experience. I am always well pleased to see men, both young and not so young prepared to put their hands up for a local theatre production.
I cannot fault important aspects such as timing and pace. There were no pauses to the action that I could discern, all cues were picked up au naturel and the audience was onside from the very start. The play hummed along very smoothly. Again I pay tribute to the ensemble. Whether at work as a “backdrop” to the action or selling audience favourites such as “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and “Money, Money, Money” the level of concentration and effort was admirable. Entries and exits were flawless. “Mamma Mia” is a stunning success for the Murray Bridge Players and Singers. I applaud you all.