Britgirlintoronto is a collection of observations covering (largely) "all things Toronto". If you are a visitor, have visitors or simply want to find out how exciting and diverse Toronto can be then leave a comment and I will respond
Even before the curtain raised.
Even before the first stanza of the orchestra’s introductory medley had completed!
The hairs on the back of my neck were standing to attention.
All I can say is that maybe I should stay in more……
I’m not even a huge fan of the Abba era; it wasn’t my finest: we’re talking member of a “Saturday Night Fever” disco dancing troupe that used to do the dance competition rounds in a uniform of skin-tight white jeans and lurex tops – and that was just the boys!! As I said, not my finest moment on the planet.
Further fodder for wondering what the hell I was doing at an Abba musical is the association with the excruciating contractions preceeding my son’s imminent birth. This thanks to the televising of a 4 hour Abba Revival – the only thing watchable on TV at 2am in the morning – during which my contractions started and I was too thick to realize what was happening. Too much information?
Still,, in hindsight, some appropriate backtracking to the situation – Gimme, Gimme, Gimme…………
Or maybe “the Day before you came”
Perversely I loved the Meryl Streep/Amanda Seyfreid (third mention in two weeks for this actress), film version, where they wheeled out Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan; what a romp! I did fear for Pearce’s eyebrows during his singing solos – I thought they were going to get lost in his hairline. That aside, as the film was so enjoyable, I had high hopes for the musical.
It did not disappoint – it was fan-bloody-tastic.
I was enthralled
I anticipated each scene and matching song.
I sang along and most of all as with the movie I was again amazed at just how many hits Abba pumped out between 1972 and 1983.
Something about watching a play versus the movie though; the whole thing lives and breathes before your eyes, relying only upon the simplest of scenery – and without the exotic locations and cinematography of a film – and the sheer raw energy of the cast who in this particular case threw themselves into bringing alive the script that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus had crafted to fit with the words of some of Abba’s biggest hits, Even then whilst the play profiles as many of the hits as possible, those not contriving to fit in with the story were put together in a finale medley with the 6 main protagonists dress to the nines in the sparkly Abba ensembles – think Gary Glitter shoulder pads. So be warned do not try to beat the crowds by escaping as the cast are taking their bows; there is more to come.
Breaking it down into highlights/lowlights:
Weakest: – the lead, in her breakout debut unfortunately had the weakest voice in comparison with the others but grinned from ear to ear throughout so overall turned in a pretty beguiling performance.
Duuhhhh moment – wondering why they would cast a dark-haired girl in the lead especially when she had to sing the line “ I am the girl with the golden hair”. The line literally hung in the air, I could sense the question mark rise from the audience as a collective thought bubble.
Best actress – Rachel Tyler as Tania superbly hammed up the role; she looked fabulous, great clothes and physique and careened around the stage like a buffoon on a scene by scene basis. She stole the show.
Funniest bit – Loaded with innuendo and to coin a phrase “lol”, the “Chiquitita“ scene where the two old friends attempt to cheer Donna Sheridan up – especially the precursor to this where Tania has to blow up her own air-bed.
Best Moment of genius scripting and choreography – the scene which segued from the chaps having their pre-stag shaninagans outside the “inn” singing “Don’t go changing your emotions” to the girls taking up the refrain with a key change,and as two bits of Greek tavern scenery revolved to reveal the inner courtyard and the girls beginning their hen party.
As touched on above, the scenery was simple and effective:. A sky background with a splash shaped cut-out suggestion of an exotic tree,. Atmospheric lighting using the sky and the moon as the only scenic barometer of time and place (oops bad metaphor).
The entire set revolved around the two semi-circular stone walls of the Greek taverna on the beach. The walls either manoeuvred to show the outside or inner courtyard depending upon the scene. It was so simple it was genius. The costumes just popped during the wedding scenes; all fizzy fuchsias & oranges and with the chorus in toffee and candy ice-cream pastels. Delicious
The Toronto show is due to close earlier than was originally scheduled, because of the G20 conference and its security headaches. I believe that the Theatre district will be off-limits to traffic; however, It’s been here at least twice now and I’m sure it will be back again. Do not miss the chance to see this; it has taken my number one spot for Best show ever.
Oh and sign up for Mirvish.com news updates as these regularly contain special offer tickets prices for most of the Mirvish shows. . I rarely pay above $40 for a ticket these days and although paying such a low price often relegates me to the nose-bleed seats in the galleries I have to say that the Royal Alexandria and the Princes of Wales all have excellent site lines to the stage wherever one happens to sit.
Finally (yes finally, finally) I must be the only person in Toronto who hadn’t realized until recently that David Mirvish was the son of the late Honest Ed (Mirvish – duh), however I really should’ve known that he had owned and operated the old Vic in London England between 1987 to 1998, especially as I used to work across the river from the theatre (on the south bank near Waterloo station) and frequented it regularly. In 2005, he co produced J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings which debuted in Toronto In March 2006 and closed in September 2006 due to poor reviews and slow sales, With an estimated capitalization (The amounts and types of long-term financing to you and me ) of 28 million, it has gone down in the “anals” as the most expensive stage-production in North American history.
So as a sign off bonus, for an irreverent look at “The Abridged script of Mama Mia the musical go check out http://www.the-editing-room.com/mammamia.htmlm
Be warned x-rated but pretty funny in places non-the-less, OR (in the words of Terry Wogan), Is it me?
And so the question is – and I’m sorry to have to borrow the popular tabloid phrase – do I give this show a “Two Thumbs Up”
Yes I do, I do I do I do I do I dooooo………………….. sorry!