By James Knudsen
Put on a show in 24 hours. Make it Abba. Make it fabulous. And make it a charity event. A simple, yet ambitious task that the folks at the LSESU Drama Society achieved with roaring success. Putting on a full musical – particularly one so well-known and loved as Mamma Mia – in a single day is no mean feat, and everyone involved should be proud of their great effort to deliver raw entertainment, when it is needed most.
A rough and ready feel characterised this production. Any moment when the production’s short preparation time became apparent only added to its charm. A memorable standout was when one of Sophie’s prospective fathers Sam (played by,James Relf) looked Bill dead in the eye and addressed him as “Harry”. Having immediately realised his mistake, Sam pushed past Bill and corrected himself, “No, Harry!”, carrying on with the scene. This was received with rapturous laughter from the audience, a virtue reminiscent of the comedy employed by the members of the ‘Mischief Theatre’ Company in shows such as ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. One can’t help but think this charm wouldn’t have been present if the production had been allowed more time for preparation, imbuing it with a unique quality the audience won’t soon forget.
The actors were fully committed to their roles, holding little back in their interpretation of these now iconic characters. A highlight was Pepper played by Emilio Bujosa, the flirtatious bartender with a yen for older women. Emilio let his hips do most of the talking throughout his stage time, reaching crescendo in the choreographically impressive ‘Does Your Mother Know’. A Latin fire and passion saturated Emilio’s performance, filling the venue with woops and laughter throughout the evening.
In contrast, there was a particularly touching and believable moment in the production where Donna (played by Hannah Brown) helped her daughter Sophie (played by Lara Arencibia Pender) get ready for her wedding. The performances in this scene provided a moment of quiet that worked as a great strength for the show. The delivery of the simple line from Brown, “I love you” brought a stripped back moment of real sincerity to a heightened musical joyride, leaving a wholesome feeling in one’s heart.
The show was topped off by a powerhouse performance of ‘Dancing Queen’ led by Ishika Srivastava where it felt like the sound team finally turned up the volume of the music and the microphones to a suitable level. The performances of the actors were loud and proud, and a strong sing-a-long effort from the audience topped off the night pleasantly.
Once again, the LSESU Drama society have gone the extra mile to provide an enjoyable entertainment experience to those who need it. Mamma Mia acts as an enticing appetiser to their upcoming full-scale production of ‘9 To 5 The Musical’, based on the music of Dolly Parton. We wait with bated breath to see what they can do with more than a day to prepare. I think it’s safe to say that we are in for a treat.