Over the holidays, I got to watch what has become my favourite stage play in a long time. Mamma Mia is one of the hit songs by the defunct Swedish music group, ABBA.
If you were born or grew up in the 70s and 80s, chances are that you will still remember all, if not most of the lyrics of the songs by this group. Incidentally, millennials and Gen Z also know a few Abba songs; thanks to their parents who won’t stop singing them.
Mamma Mia… The Musical, adapted for Nigerian audiences was staged in Lagos at Muson Centre over the holidays. The musical was produced by Ireti Bakare-Yusuf of Jarin Seriki Productions; and directed by Najite Dede. It featured Chioma Odimba as Donna, who is the star of the musical; as a single mother who has no idea who the father of her daughter is among the three men that showed up in her home.
Talk about scandals, right?
Donna deliberately chose not to inform the likely father of her child about the existence of the child and raised the girl alone. Throughout the years, the girl, like any normal human being, began to search for her father; especially after her mother chose to keep mum about the man. As a result, three likely fathers showed up and each one upon landing at the said destination; realized he had been tricked into coming for the wedding of a young woman who is likely to be his child.
This looks like the stuff of Nollywood, only unlike Nollywood, it didn’t descend into name calling, fisticuffs, juju bearing mothers and friends or entire calamity where blames and counter blames would’ve been flung. Instead, it left the audience in stitches, over and over again. That what appears like a tragic situation can end without blood shed; and with everyone’s wits about them is what makes this a drama for all seasons.
It showed girl power in Donna’s two besties; it showed maturity in the three men who likely could be the father of her daughter; and it showed love between the young couple setting out to make a life for themselves; love, between Donna and the three likely fathers who still adore her; and more love between Donna and her daughter, a single mother who sacrificed everything for her daughter’s sake through the years; but most of all, it showed that we all need a lil bit of dance in our lives and a song to give us a lift.
It was a particularly moving moment, at the end of the Command performance; when the audience was encouraged to sing and dance along with the cast on stage!
There was magic in how Donna’s vocals rendered the songs. You’d have thought the cast would mime the songs; no, they were were not just great actors but fantastic singers as well.
In all, Mamma Mia,,, the musical was magic; the songs rendered,(remember, it’s a musical), the choreography, stagecraft, the lighting and sound, all were a sweet blend that enabled one to recommend it being staged pan-Nigeria, not just in Lagos.
With a cast of more than 80; add the behind the stage cast and you are looking at no less than 120 people who labored to make the play something to wonder about even as it dropped curtains on the 3rd of January, 2022.
Here’s hoping the cast will come back again to town come Easter or any public holiday because it’s a must see for the family.