From the joy of surprising audiences to the joy of being surprised yourself when a performance takes an unexpected turn, and from unusual beauty regimes to discovering an entirely new family, the experience of being part of a huge musical production is different for everyone.
That’s why, as Mamma Mia! prepares to celebrate its 15th birthday on Sunday, we asked the current cast to share their favourite moments of being part of the hit ABBA musical. We discovered that although life isn’t always a beach on the pop-tastic, sun-kissed show, the cast still say thank you for than the music and a lot more besides:
Richard Trinder (Sam): “It’s been a joy to watch cynical middle-aged friends fall under the Mamma Mia! spell and dance in the aisles like 12-year-olds. It feels vaguely wrong to be having so much fun in front of so many people, though I’m now genuinely frightened of hen parties.”
Adam Clayton-Smith (Ensemble): “I remember my first Mamma Mia! tanning experience. It involved a spray booth, a grown man, vast amounts of Fake Bake and me in a jock strap. I wondered why we had to tan certain areas, but I was assured that it was essential.
“During my first contract with Mamma Mia! we had the pleasure of performing in front of an audience that included a large party of Spanish students. They were vocal throughout, which was great, but that was nothing compared to what we encountered at the stage door. To a rock star this would be pretty standard, to me it was insane! No finale that I have ever performed in or witnessed has had the same effect on an audience. Truly amazing!”
Jessica Daley (Ali): “I’ve grown up with ABBA. Singing the tunes every night is a delight and often takes me back to my childhood. I haven’t quite come to terms properly with the fact that we will be performing with the guys [ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus] at the Olivier Awards. That’ll be a special moment.”
Jennifer Caldwell (Ensemble): “My favourite moment of my two years at Mamma Mia! was taking part in the relaxed performance for Mousetrap Theatre Projects. It was incredibly rewarding giving families the opportunity to come to the theatre and be in a comfortable an enjoyable environment. Seeing how much they enjoyed the show was the best thing ever!”
Dawn Buckland (Ensemble): “I spend six days a week on a Greek island, surrounded by gorgeous people and singing ABBA songs, what’s not to love?!”
Oliver Tilney (Sky): “During rehearsals we learnt the choreography for the beach scene and then put on the flippers for the first time to give them a go. All I remember was a lot of laughing, bodies flying everywhere and complete carnage! Thankfully we got a little better before opening night!”
Dickie Wood (Pepper): “My favourite part of Mamma Mia! is the fun we are allowed to have on stage. The boys’ scenes Lay All Your Love and Does Your Mother Know? are so much fun to do, especially doing it with your mates. Plus a year-long stag do? Can’t complain.”
Dominic Smith (Ensemble): “My favourite moment was when Sky ran into the clump eight counts early during the Mamma Mia! finale and decided to break out some freestyle on the audience to cover it.”
Kayleigh Stephenson (Swing): “I have learnt a lot this year being swing on Mamma Mia!, especially from other swings, it’s made me realise how important swings are and how hard it is learning all the different tracks.”
Stephen McGlynn (Ensemble): “One night with the original cast, during the finale whilst exiting the stage I tripped over and fell through the backcloth pulling a very young Scarlett Strallen with me. Oops!”
Kim Ismay (Tanya): “I’ve been part of Mamma Mia! on and off for 11 years… I’ve played Tanya at all three of its West End homes and celebrated the fifth anniversary and now the 15th…. and I love the show as much as I did the first week.”
Helen Siveter (Dance Captain): “Mamma Mia! is like my second family. Every department in the building is full of amazing people and even though I leave, I keep coming back. Mamma Mia!… how can you resist it?”