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The plot wasn't up to much - but Thank You for the Music; MUSICAL REVIEW Mamma Mia!/ Echo Arena Liverpool.

Byline: Emma Pinch

TAKE some of the most irresistible melodies ever written, throw in a Greek beach and bathe in romance. What's not to like? One in four households apparently owning the DVD of the film version of Mamma Mia mean an awful lot of people like the Abba hit peppered story - albeit with its space distilled down into a mere 3,000 seats - was big enough to cater for fans of the smash hit stage production.

The vast, almost exclusively female audience brought along bags of lively atmosphere and was itching to sing along.

The plot centres on fatherless Sophie, conceived during a wild time in her mum's twenties, who, unbeknown to her mum, Donna, invites the three possible candidates to her wedding in the hope her real father will give her away.

But it was the side plot, of three 40-something women, Donna and the two other former Dynamos, rediscovering their youth that really lit their fuse. Sex and the Greek Taverna, if you like.

The Dynamos reforming for Super Trouper replete in silver platforms and satin capes and the various seductions by Rosie (Leanne Rogers) and Tania (Kate Graham) to Does Your Mother Know and Take a Chance on Me, were scene-stealing highlights.

The blue and white set was functional - two curved, whitewashed walls forming in and outside Donna's taverna - and rather unimaginative.

But lighting was used to masterful effect, sensuously dappled and luminous white.

Scenes which didn't involve the ensemble cast (like the glorious dream sequence for Under Attack) saw the action rather swallowed up by the Arena for the higher tiers ("they're like matchsticks," commented my neighbour).

For non-Mamma Mia! fanatics, it irked how few of the songs - with their lovely poignancy and longing - seemed to align with the flimsy plot and dialogue.

But plot was very much secondary to music, and the superb sound values in the Arena did full justice to the sweet strong voice of Sophie (Miria Parvin), the gorgeous harmonies of the ensemble cast and the live band.

So Thank You for the Music - Mamma Mia!'s worth taking a chance on.

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Code: jrmammamia-7 Jackie Clune, centre, with the cast of Mamma Mia!
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2010
Words:364
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