Having seen the epic film Mamma Mia! I was expecting a poorer cousin to hit the stage at the New Theatre.

How could they replicate that Greek island, the heat, the sun, the sea, the love? But one has to remember that the film was based on the musical and not the other way around.

The musical has always stood on its own two feet, mainly Abba’s music of course, which is what Mamma Mia is of wrapped around.

Then we heard that the lead role of Donna was being played by the understudy Kay Milbourne rather than Helen Hobson and things looked rather bleak.

Mamma Mia’s stars were not aligned in Oxford it seemed.

But then it kicked off with Sophie, played by Lucy May Barker, posting off letters to her three potential fathers, inviting them to her impending wedding, and the die was cast.

Off we went, transported to hotter climes, Sophie and her friends and family chaotically preparing for her impending wedding.

And Donna was superb. Kay sung her little heart out, and was mesmerising, her ability and confidence growing song by song, building up to, The Winner Takes It All which she belted out in style.

Sophie’s fiance Sky was perhaps cast more for his six pack than his vocal range, but as the plot thickens and the three father figures emerge and divulge their past, equally matched by Donna’s bezzies and fellow band members, the gleeful fun that ensues is intoxicating and nostalgic in equal measures, even if they don’t get to actually jump into the turquoise seas of Skopelos.

But the grand finale was the best, the whole of the upper tier of the theatre on our feet singing and dancing in equal measure, having our own ABBA party in the depths of the New Theatre.

It’s silly and fluffy and implausible, but that’s why we love it. It’s escapism in its purest form and as such, unashamed fun.


* Mamma Mia runs until Saturday. atgtickets.com