Mamma Mia!

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Recommended Critics' choice
Sep 24-Nov 2
 

Ahead of their upcoming show this autumn, the main cast members of Mamma Mia! explain the universal appeal of a tale of love, life and laughter, writes Jacqueline Leung

It’s been a decade since the world-famous musical Mamma Mia! last came to Hong Kong but news of its return to the city has already stirred up scores of excitement in theatre and musical circles alike. And it’s no wonder – Mamma Mia! has already been seen by 54 million people since opening in 1999, having delighted audiences worldwide time and again, with the 2008 film version starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan also going down as a blockbuster smash. Anyone familiar with the chart-topping Swedish 70s pop group Abba will relate to the show’s renditions of the songs – but the timeless appeal of Mamma Mia! runs much deeper than its musical inspiration. The show’s story transcends age, gender and even cultures, which explains its success in Hong Kong a decade ago and is sure to be encored again this time.

Mamma Mia! tells the tale of young Sophie who, in a bid to search out her father and have him walk her down the aisle, accidentally unfurls her mother’s romantic history with three men. It’s a story of comedy, drama and wedding day elation, with a very simple message – to love and accept. “To me, it’s about how families can be so many different kinds of things,” says Richard Standing, who plays Sam Carmichael, one of the three father figures in Sophie’s life. “It’s a really positive and inclusive message. I think it includes everybody no matter how young or old they are, no matter what kind of person they are – it’s all about how families are important and how we just need to accept each other.”

The moral of the musical sounds like a no-brainer, but having it acted out on stage reminds the audience, as well as the cast and crew, of what is all too often taken for granted. Going on tour together makes the team a tight-knit family driven by the same passion for performance, yet Sara Poyzer, who plays Sophie’s mother Donna, expresses the need for members of the cast to accommodate one another when acting to achieve that goal. “You have to adapt, because other actors have a different character,” says Poyzer. Interestingly, Poyzer and Standing – who play the romantic leads of the musical – are also a real-life couple, further adding to the ‘familial’ theme of the show.

Although the story and the songs – from Super Trouper to Dancing Queen – are the same as the last time Mamma Mia! was in Hong Kong, a fresh roster of talent keeps the show vivid and relevant. “[The team] is very much a combination of different personalities, which is why it’s so exciting,” says Standing, who can barely hide his enthusiasm for the talents in the cast. “We’ve got some young, talented people and it’s their first job. Their freshness and energy is very important.” Aside from preparing for the show, Standing and Poyzer are already circling must-go places for their own Hong Kong itinerary – the best eateries, Happy Valley Racecourse, Chinese temples.

“[Hong Kong’s] one of those places you hope to visit,” says Standing. “And what’s good about a show like Mamma Mia! is that it’s like a passport – it’s a doorway into a place and into its people.”

Mamma Mia! HKAPA, Sep 24-Nov 2. Tickets: $995-$395; hkticketing.com.

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