Thousand tops

With 2020 being largely taken out of the mix, it has taken me just over 8 years to review 1000 shows as Blue Curtains Brisbane. And my top 10 favourites from within them, appropriately feature shows from 2013 to 2021… a mix of comedy, cabaret, musicals, theatre and festival fare.

1. Delectable Shelter (The Hayloft Project)

The Hayloft Project’s 2013 out-of-the-box black comedy, “Delectable Shelter” literally took place in a box as bunker at Brisbane Powerhouse in its claustrophobic tell of five doomsday survivors planning a utopian society. With ‘80s power ballads and hilarious homages to their ancestors from later descendants, there was so much by which to be entertained in the anarchy of its apocalyptic storytelling, making it my absolute favourite.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (National Theatre of Great Britain)

In 2018, the National Theatre of Great Britain provided QPAC audiences with an unparalleled insight into the mind of someone living with an autism spectrum condition with their acclaimed production of Mark Hadden’s much-loved novel. Inventive, imaginative stage design which saw the floor and all three walls of the boxed-in set transformed into mathematical graph paper, provided many visually memorable moments authentic to experience of the show’s London production.

3. All My Love (HIT Productions)

HIT Productions’ sensitive “All My Love” chronicled the fascinating and little-known relationship between the larger-than-life writer and poet Henry Lawson and the radical socialist and literary icon Mary Gilmore, taking its audience along an evocative journey about the people beyond their words, but also their passion in a “Love Letters” type way.

4. Ladies in Black (Queensland Theatre)

The musical so nice, Queensland Theatre programed it twice. With stunning visuals and costumes, a soundtrack featuring over 20 original Tim Finn songs and humour, the Helpman-Award-winning musical took audiences into both the glitz of a high-end 1950s department store shop floor and the personal lives of its employees with infectious wit and charm.

5. The Revolutionists (The Curators)

The Curator’s 2021 drama-filled French-revolutionist play about a playwright writing a play was passionate, powerful, political and full of important messaging about women’s importance in history and the fundamental role of theatre and culture in history and civilisation.

6. The Tragedy of King Richard III (La Boite Theatre Company)

In 2016, Daniel Evans’ gave meaning anew to Shakespeare’s depiction of the Machiavellian King Richard III through bold exploration of its story’s silences, gaps and biases and dynamic discovery of new character depths and unexpected provocations.

7. Hamnet (Dead Centre)

As part of the 2018 Brisbane Festival, Ireland’s Dead Centre used audio visual technology in combination with live performance to give us the perfectly-pitched and movingly thought-provoking story of Shakespeare’s one son (just 11 when he died), knowing that he is just one letter away from greatness.

8. Boy Swallows Universe (Queensland Theatre)

My favourite ever Queensland Theatre show…. More than just recreating Trent Dalton’s story, the company’s landmark 2021 production of “Boy Swallows Universe”, honoured the original text and transformed it as a work of its own, dynamic in its realisation and anchored around its theme of resilience.

9. California Crooners Club (Parker + Mr French)

The 2016 Spiegeltent saw audiences treated to the first Brisfest appearance of the cool-cat cabaret crooners of the “California Crooners Club”. The energetic and charming show from genuine, generous performers (led by concept creator Hugh Sheridan), was a marvellous mixed bag of old, new and original numbers curated together and harmonised like familiar favourites.

10. Forthcoming (shake & stir theatre company)

Shake & stir theatre company’s contemporary adults-only choose-your-own-adventure romantic comedy “Fourthcoming” not only placed the course of the narrative in the audience’s hands, but provided an avalanche of non-stop laugh-until-you-cry moments.

And….

Special mention to La Boite Theatre Company’s “Still Standing”, which in 2002 and 2003 presented a music-filled immersion into the Brisbane rock scene of the 1980s as counter-culture to the repressive Bjelke-Petersen regime that although I saw before starting reviewing, still stands as my favourite ever Brisbane theatre experience.

Century’s choice

Fortunate as we have been in Queensland this year, I was able to experience exactly 100 shows in 2021 and though I am thankful for every single one of them, there are of course some that stand out as favourites.

1. The Revolutionists (The Curators)

The drama-filled French-revolutionist play about a playwright writing a play was passionate, powerful, political and full of important messaging about women’s importance in history and the fundamental role of theatre and culture in history and civilisation.

2. Boy Swallows Universe (Queensland Theatre)

More than just recreating Trent Dalton’s story, Queensland Theatre’s landmark production of “Boy Swallows Universe”, honoured the original text and transformed it as a work of its own, dynamic in its realisation and anchored around its theme of resilience.

3. Triple X (Queensland Theatre)

As the Queensland Theatre play that audiences waited a year for, “Triple X” provided a commentary on the complicated issues of gender and sexuality that was funny, honest and powerfully moving.

4. Prima Facie (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre’s production of Suzie Miller’s “Prima Facie” was a riveting 100-minute one-woman tour-de-force indictment of the legal system, appropriately acclaimed by the thunderous applause of three curtain calls.

5. Of Mice and Men (Ad Astra)

Ad Astra’s production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” served as a poignant reminder of not only the heartbreak of its story and themes, but of how classics are classics for a reason.

6. Fourthcoming (shake & stir theatre company)  

Shake & stir theatre company’s contemporary adults-only choose-your-own-adventure romantic comedy “Fourthcoming” not only placed the course of the narrative in the audience’s hands, but provided an avalanche of non-stop laugh-until-you-cry moments.

7. The Producers (Altitude Theatre)

Altitude Theatre’s inaugural production, “The Producers” was self-aware and hugely entertaining with distinctive musical numbers and laugh-out-louds a-plenty 

8. Anatomy of a Suicide (BC Productions)

The precision with which all elements of the three consecutively unfolding stories of BC Production’s “Anatomy of a Suicide” unfold made for a powerful exploration of the ideas of family, mental health, love and strong women.

9. Elektra/Orestes (The Hive Collective)

The Hive Collective’s dynamic adaptation of Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy “Electra” was elevated in interest through a very clever second-half reversal of scenes, where events occurred in complement to the onstage action alongside the original dialogue.

10. Return to the Dirt (Queensland Theatre)

Steve Pirie’s Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning “Return to the Dirt”, inspired by his real experiences working in a funeral home was not just an examination of what it means to die in the 21st century, but a very funny and moving night of entertainment at Queensland Theatre.

And of particular note….

Best Performance:

Glace Chase – Triple X (Queensland Theatre)

Playwright, Glace Chase was magnetic as the candid Dexi in “Triple X”. Bold but vulnerable, she made Dexi complex in her multi-dimension and identifiable in her inner conflicts, with a portrayal that added immensely to the emotional effect of the show’s unprecedented storytelling about love in the 21st century.

Oliver Childs – Our House (Brisbane Arts Theatre)

Oliver Childs not only showed a talent for characterisation in his realisation of the two Joe Caseys of the alternative realities of Brisbane Arts Theatre’s “Our House”, but his enthusiastic energy and vocal delivery worked well to encapsulate the spirit at the core of the jukebox musical’s experience.

Best Musical – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Spotlight Theatrical Company)

It was easy to understand why Spotlight Theatrical Company’s season of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” sold out before even opening, given the company’s polished approach to all of its aspects and especially the strong performances of its main cast members.

Best Ensemble – The Producers (Altitude Theatre)

With a cast all pushing their eccentric performances to their full potential, Altitude Theatre’s The Producers was high-energy and immensely entertaining throughout.

Best Music – Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary (QPAC)

Proud Mary gave QPAC audiences a reminder of just how good live music is with an infectious 2-hour rock back to a time when the prolific Creedence Clearwater Revival was the soundtrack of a generation.

Best Cabaret – Your Song (little red company)

The little red company’s world premiere of “Your Song” was a lively throwback to rock and roll with an edge of glam in a glitzy rainbow of celebratory colour and unquestionable on-stage talent.

Cleverest – Anatomy of a Suicide (BC Productions) 

With concurrently played out stories across three generations of mothers and daughters, BC Productions’ “Anatomy of a Suicide” had a lot going on in its Brisbane premiere. As the stories played out side-by-side, switching across stage sections, episodic scenes danced together rhythmically, colliding in synchronisation of key lines to emphasise the commonality of concepts, making for a cleverly crafted provocation around ideas associated with legacy.

Best New Work – Return to the Dirt (Queensland Theatre)

While Steve Pirie’s Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning “Return to the Dirt”, deals with a number of heavy themes, it is a well-written, emotionally rich play that offered a refreshing take on a young man’s story.

Most Fun – Our House (Brisbane Arts Theatre)

Brisbane Arts Theatre’s jukebox musical “Our House”, based on the songs of Madness didn’t take itself too seriously, including through its number of nods to band’s music videos, making its experience all sorts of infectious fun.

Funniest – Fouthcoming (shake & stir theatre company)  

Thanks to performances in the face of its changing narrative, the hilarity of shake & stir theatre company’s “Fouthcoming” never stopped.

Special mention goes to the post show-within-the-show discussion of La Boite Theatre’s “Caesar”, which provided the funniest scene of the year, through its absolutely hilarious TikTok livestream nods to the Brisbane theatre scene.

Most Thought Provoking – Locked In (Shock Therapy)

Shock Therapy’s “Locked In” provided a thought-provoking exploration of experience and impact of living with a rare neurological disorder, for sufferers and their families alike.

Best Stage Design Staging – The Revolutionists (The Curators)

Intimate traverse staging allowed audience members to become fully immersed in recognition of the stunningly rich aesthetic and, appropriately for a play set in revolutionary France, its cast of real-life fierce female characters to burst down its fashion runway.

Best Costume Design – The Revolutionists (The Curators)

Attention to detail added to the dynamism of the experience of this Curators show with lush pink and red mix-patterned ruffled and frilled costumery conveying a clear sense of opulence befitting the play’s French Revolution setting.

Best Sound Design – Elektra/Orestes (The Hive Collective)

The Hive Collective’s adaptation of Euripides’ classic “Electra” was elevated by a vivid, atmospheric sound design that both heightened audience suspense and fevered its story’s foreboding.

Best Video Design – Boy Swallows Universe (Queensland Theatre)

The blockbuster video design of Queensland Theatre’s “Boy Swallows Universe” both gave us Brisbane iconography and nooks and crannies alike, but bled its imagery into the story’s themes.  

Hold on to that rock feelin’

Rock of Ages (Beenleigh Theatre Group)

Crete Street Theatre

November 26 – December 11

“Rock of Ages” is a jukebox musical built around classic rock songs of the 1980s (in particular those of the decade’s glam metal bands), curated together to fit its narrative about young people coming to LA to achieve their dreams. It’s an era and thus a show of big bands with big hair, playing big guitar solos. And so Beenleigh Theatre Group plays the story out to the classic rock anthems of Twisted Sister, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Whitesnake, Foreigner and alike.

It is 1987 in the city build on rock and roll. Along Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Strip, a fictional seedy bar, celebrates rock ‘n’ roll debauchery as the lifestyle of dreamers. Busboy and aspiring rock star from South Detroit, Drew (Dylan Hodge) just wants to rock, but every musical needs a love story so enter innocent, straight off the bus from small-town Kansas Sherrie (Jaime O’Donoghue). Of course Drew has been waiting for a girl like her, but before a budding romance can begin, immediately smitten, she engages in a bathroom tryst with rock god Stacee Jaxx (Clay English).

When Act Two opens, it is the final countdown for the bar and its washed-up rocker owner Dennis (Nathan Skaines), with two villainous German developers, Herz (Jim Price) and his son Franz (Sam Piaggio), scheming to tear down the bar, meaning that it’s up to spirited city planner Regina (Madi Jennings) to stop them. Jennings makes for a fierce Regina, tough and passionate in her bohemian activism, however, it is Will Boyd as charismatic narrator and assistant manager of the Bourbon Room, Lonny who steals the show, clearly having a great time with the demanding role that rarely sees him off stage. His delivery of the script’s many raunchy jokes and sight gags is well timed for maximum comic effect as he recounts the history of the club and narrates events on stage with meta-theatrical fourth wall breaks. And English smoulders as lead singer of the band Arsenal, the egomaniac Stacee Jazz, slinking through his solo, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ with vocals as large as his character’s overblown ego.

Hodge and O’Donoghue share nice vocal chemistry as aspiring rock singer Drew and aspiring actress Sherrie; the epilogue of Journey’s iconic ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is particularly harmonious in their hands. Individually, they each have some powerful vocal moments too, such as in Sherrie’s ‘Harden My Heart’ and Drew’s ‘Oh Sherrie’, which highlights Hodge’s vocal power and impressive ability to hold a note.

Despite the show’s upbeat performances, some shorter sections lag a little and occasional microphone lapses sometimes take the audience out of its moments. Holly Leeson’s energetic choreography takes the audience back to the excesses of glam metal music videos and far-from-subtle costumes effectively capture the era’s idiosyncrasies. “Rock of Ages” is, however, all about the music and the on-stage band (musical director Julie Whiting) brings the range of its soundtrack of well-known songs to life, from a synthy-sounding ‘Final Countdown’ to an initially stripped-back and ultimately revealing ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’. In each and every song of its 20+ long setlist, the band brings it, pumping out tunes with attitude, even if initially it is at a volume that sits atop rather than in support of the singing voices in the opening number.

Comedy comes from rock ‘n’ roll antics, fourth wall breaks, overt innuendo and deliberately over-the-top, campy characterisation, all of which are appreciated by a buoyant Saturday night crowd. While in its take back to a sexier, sexualised time, the story relies of stereotypes, there is a clear sense of not taking itself too seriously. Indeed, there is an infectious, spirited energy from all members of the large on-stage cast that ensure that audience members walk away holding on to the feeling of its satisfaction.  

Fizzy fun infection

The Wedding Singer (David Venn Enterprises)

HOTA, Home of the Arts

June 18 – 26

It’s 1985, a time of denim, ruffles, leather and lace, oversized gadgetry and technicolour everything… and “The Wedding Singer” has it all in abundance. The musical comedy, based on the hit 1998 rom-com movie of the same name staring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, celebrates it all. And while it may not necessarily be as charming as its source material, the on-stage trip down a memory lane of perms, pastels and parachute pants is still loads of fun.

The plot is essentially that of the movie. The title character, New Jersey’s Robbie Hart (Christian Charisiou) is a life-of-the-party wanna-be rock star who fronts a wedding band with his two buddies, bass guitarist Sammy (Haydan Hawkins) and keyboard player George (Ed Deganos), revelling in the notion of happily ever after… until he is left at the alter by his fiancé Linda (Kirby Burgess). His resurrection from an ensuring bitter depression (resulting in ruin of others’ weddings through his morose lyrics and lacklustre performances) comes from a connection with kind-hearted waitress Julia (Teagan Wouters) who unfortunately already has a Wall Street boyfriend, Glen (Stephen Mahy).

While things take a while to gain momentum, the story (book by Tim Herlihy, who also wrote the movie’s screenplay) is soon moving along with songs by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, including some huge power ballads, like the hyper-emotional breakup letter ‘A Note From Linda’ and her later ‘Let Me Come Home’, where, looking a lot like the girl from ‘November Rain’, Burgess belts out her epic vocals accompanied with some sexy Whitesnake vixen moves.

Another highlight comes courtesy of Act One’s ‘Causality of Love’ from Robbie and Company. The dynamite number encapsulates the show’s high energy and tight dchoreography, complete with some ‘Thriller’ moves that are absolutely in sync across all of the dancers. Of-the-era references abound throughout the musical, in Michael Ralph’s choreographic nods to movies like “Flashdance” and music videos like Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’, but also within the lyrics of the upbeat opener ‘It’s Your Wedding Day’. And its soundtrack certainly reflects the eclecticism of the era, with recognisable musical sensibilities from new wave, dance-pop, glam metal and even some rap (‘Move That Thang’) from Robbie’s sassy grandmother Rosie (Susan-Ann Walker).

Kim Bishop’s nostalgic costume design also catalogues the era in all of its excess… with puffy sleeves, sequins and polyester, plus, in particular in the punchy ‘It’s All About The Green’, shoulder power dressing when Robbie tries to get a job on Wall Street like Glen in order impress Julia. And Nathan Weyers’s low-fuss set design is entirely appropriate in its backdrop of all the action and colour, especially in the show’s later scenes which see Robbie and his friends teaming up with a group of Vegas impersonators to attempt to stop Julia’s wedding to Glen. Indeed, this becomes a real highlight as audience members reconcile which celebrities are being impersonated on stage, thanks to the talents of the ensemble as much as the costumes and Drew-Elizabeth Jonstone’s hair and make-up design.

Filling the shoes of the characters of an iconic movie is always going to be a difficult task and while Charisiou and Wouters do a good job, once they are settled into their story, the most dynamic appearances come courtesy of the supporting characters. Nadia Komazec is an absolute delight as Julia’s pocket-rocket personality-plus friend and fellow waitress Holly who, in contrast to Julia, is uninhibited and forward. Her comic timing brings about many of the show’s laughs. And although not terribly bright, but terribly persistent in his attempts to reunite with Holly, Sammy’s well-meaning support is what ultimately shines through in Hawkins’ performance, making him an endearing audience favourite for more than just his Bon Jovi hair.  

“The Wedding Singer” is a feel-good musical that, under Alister Smith’s direction, doesn’t take itself too seriously in its colourful celebration of everything ‘80s. With a lively score (Musical Director Daniel Puckey) and energetic performance, there is much to love about its infectious, fizzy fun, making it the ultimate either reminder of or insight into the era of excess.  

Photos c/o – Nicole Clearly

Collaboration and celebration

Women in Voice On Tour

Redland Performing Arts Centre

June 20

Women in Voice’s On Tour trip down by the bay to Redland Performing Arts Centre, may represent the phenomenon’s first regional tour, but still opens with a tribute to the home of its humble beginnings with an opening satirical number in which effervescent emcee Jenny Wynter Brisbanises a musical mashup with reappropriated lyrics in ode to the region’s suburbs. It’s an engaging start to a wonderful afternoon of performances. The show’s entertainment comes not just from comedy, however, but touching moments too, such is the versatility of its line-up of performers.

Women in Voice has always committed to providing performance and production mentorships to nurture future generations of female songstresses and this dedication remains at the forefront of the 2021 show, which, in Act One, sees Roz Pappalardo welcoming her mentee and fellow North Queensland songwriter, newcomer Bellani Smith. Together the ladies’ voices blend beautifully in Abba’s bittersweet and sentimental ‘Fernando’ and their ‘Jolene’ set closer is an absolute treat. As they share important songs from their lives, with introductory explanations, we are drawn into musical appreciation at a deeper level. In particular, Smith’s original love song ‘Piece of Me’, with piano self-accompaniment is simply stunning. Indeed, her perfect vocal tone, moving lyrics and swelling melody make this an unexpected early highlight.

The theme of family legacy is evident throughout the first act of the show. Leah Cotterell always showcases interesting song choices in her sets and from The Carpenters’ ‘Yesterday Once More’ to Peggy Lee’s ‘Is That All There Is?”, she delivers them all with a warm sophistication that encapsulates the pleasure of sad songs in trigger of memory and emotion. The honesty at the heart of the stories she shares is endearing and her evocative almost a cappella ‘Grey Funnel Line’ with Women in Voice founder Annie Peterson (who started the group to give an opportunity for female singers to share the music they did not have the chance to perform anywhere else) perhaps introduces the audience to a whole new folk song of longing.

Since its initial appearance at West End’s Sitting Duck Cafe in 1993, Women in Voice has become an annual arts scene highlight with its attraction of top talent as well as new stars. The spirit of collaboration is at the core of the group’s philosophy; the artists devise their own visions and serve as each other’s’ backing singers. Cleveland performer Hannah Johnstone, we are told was discovered at a local workshop. While her between-song stage presence in still developing, her take on songs by Rick Astley and The Jackson 5 showcases her formidable vocals and her passionate rip through Powderfinger’s rolling ‘On My Mind’, with guitar self-accompaniment, is a rocking highlight, along with Roz Pappalardo’s similarly gutsy ‘Bring Me Some Water’.

While not all of the “Women in Voice On Tour” setlist features numbers by female songstresses, there is a clear theme of celebrating women, from Johnstone’s ‘Edge of Seventeen’ and Hannah Grondin’s ‘Crazy in Love’, culminating in Grodin’s electrifying rendition of Aretha Franklin’s anthemic respect, with a strong and adamant voice that commands our attention. And the ladies’ voices all blend together magnificently in encore of the heartfelt classic country song ‘Delta Dawn’.

“Women in Voice On Tour” is a wonderful development to build upon the franchise’s history of sell-out performances. Backed by a talented band, the cast of fresh and favourite performers gives its audience covers and original songs in a nice balance and blend of styles and genres, meaning there is something for everything in its strong female line-up.

Super Trouper treat

Mamma Mia! (Matt Ward Entertainment)

The Star Gold Coast, The Theatre

June 19 – July 11

Forget the red; it was a blue carpet opening for Matt Ward Entertainment’s production of the smash hit musical “Mamma Mia!”, appropriate given the colours of the Greek taverna set at The Star Gold Coast’ The Theatre. The fictional island of Kalokairi setting is where we find Sophie (Madeline Grice) dreaming of a perfect wedding, which includes her father giving her away… if only she knew who he was. Her mother Donna (Jayde Westaby), the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to speak about the past, so Sophie sneaks a peek in Donna’s old diaries to discover three possible fathers: Sam (Sean Mulligan), Bill (Sandro Colarelli) and Harry (James Shaw), all of whom she secretly invites to her wedding. When the three men return to the island two decades after their last visit, they are reunited with Sophie’s single-mother Donna and the heart-warming tale unfolds …. to a soundtrack of ABBA songs.

The show is one of theatre’s biggest success stories and its experience makes it easy to appreciate why. As one of the first in a surge of jukebox musical popularity, it uses of the songs of the Swedish pop group phenomenon to create a light-hearted musical comedy celebration of love, laughter and friendship. The musical numbers provide exposition and character insight, with dialogue segueing naturally into the songs. Indeed, only minor lyric changes are needed to integrate them into the narrative. And the band’s contagiously catchy big hits are well placed to hook the audience, for example when, having just learned that Sophie’s three possible fathers have arrived on the island, Donna distresses away in her bedroom with friends Tanya (Emily Jade O’Keeffe) and Rosie (Leah Howard) who rally her to finally join in with the euphoric and blissfully youthful disco-balled ‘Dancing Queen’.

A brilliant band under the musical direction of Kuki Tipoki brings vitality to the ABBA tunes and it is wonderful to get glimpses of the musicians in action at the rear of the stage, especially when the set is opened up for Sophie’s wedding to Sky (Lakota Johnson). While differing vocal talents are showcased, there is no faulting Westaby as the free spirited mother of the bride-to-be. In a flawless performance she not only gives Donna the usual stoicism, but also panicked nervousness and tender vulnerability in reconnection with her former flames. And the accomplishment of her vocals is incredible. The command of her delivery of the melancholic power ballad ‘The Winner Takes It All’ after a bitter confrontation with Sam, in which she tells of how he broke her heart, is an absolute goosebumpy highlight, adding emotional depth to what could easily have been just a production line of bubble-gum pop numbers.

The magic is also evident in Westaby’s ‘SOS’ duet with Muligan, in which they both of them wish they could go back to the start. Westaby is a fine performer himself, as seen in Sam’s attempt to give Sophie some fatherly advice by describing his failed marriage in ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. And as the good and proper but fastidious Harry, Shaw, bring a nice intimacy to Donna and Harry’s nostalgic ‘One Last Summer’ reminiscence of their long-ago fling. Meanwhile, at the more upbeat end, a sassy, flirty ‘Does Your Mother Know’, during which the thrice divorced and now affluent Tanya rebuffs the advances of the much younger tavern worker Pepper (DonAlex Vilitama) and Act One’s closing disco-esque dance number ‘Voulez Vous’ are infectiously high in energy.

Joseph Simons’s impressive choreography takes advantage of the large stage space to enliven every number. When the girl group trio catch up about their lives in ‘Money, Money, Money’ casino themes and motifs and evident in movement as much as props and the similar ensemble number ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ in which Sky tells Sophie he will be the only man she ever needs, flips the fun up a notch (#literally) with a crowd-favourite routine. And while after interval’s ‘Under Attack’ still jars with the feel of the rest of the show, its use of blocked shadowy en masse dancer movement to represent Sophie’s nightmare of all three of her possible fathers fighting for the right to walk her down the aisle, creates a considered contrast with the numbers that follow.

Given that this “Mamma Mia!” was originally scheduled for July 2020, the production comes with much expectation and it certainly proves itself worthy of the wait. The super trouper musical is tremendously energetic, but also emotionally moving and full of fun, meaning that when its curtain calls of ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Waterloo’, ensue, audience members are jumping to their feet, not just be in ovation but in pure joy at its treat.