Catherine Johnson, writer of global musical theatre hit Mamma Mia!, described the ABBA-inspired show’s first relaxed performance as a “wonderful evening” following the event held last night.
“From the pre-show sing-along to the mega-mix dance-along [it was] a triumph for the three Ms, Mousetrap Theatre Projects (MTP) and Mamma Mia!,” she said after the show. “You don’t have a show without an audience and this audience deserve a resounding cheer for creating an unforgettable experience.”
The special performance was the latest in a series staged specifically to cater to the requirements of audience members with special needs. In particular the performances aim to make it easier for people with autism, learning difficulties or other sensory and communications needs, and their families, to enjoy a trip to the theatre.
More than 200 families and more than 500 young people attended the performance, helping to make it another resounding success.
Speaking about her daughter’s experience, one mother said: “We had an amazing time. It is the first time ever that Carly has managed to sit through a show. We have tried before and have had to leave a few minutes into the performance. Everything was just ‘right’ for her last night.”
Another commented: “Tilly loved every moment and danced and clapped throughout. It was so fabulous to watch other children, who would never usually get the chance to go to the theatre, happily enjoying the whole experience. We didn’t have to worry about Tilly getting up or making any noise… It was a lovely evening for the whole family.”
Judging by Twitter, the cast revelled in the experience too, with former Over The Rainbow contestant Jessica Daley, now a performer in Mamma Mia!, tweeting: “Well that was the most rewarding show there’s been! @MousetrapTP you are very inspiring! Loved performing tonight!”
Mamma Mia! is the latest West End show to stage a relaxed performance, following in the footsteps of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Shrek The Musical and The Lion King. In order to make the evening enjoyable for all, alterations are made to the show’s sound and lighting, free resources are available to prepare for the trip, trained volunteers and staff are on hand to help at the theatre and a ‘time out’ area with a screen streaming the onstage action is created.
Since the inception of the Relaxed Performance Project in 2012, more and more shows and theatregoers have seen the benefit of these special evenings. Over the coming months, Cinderella: A Fairytale (Unicorn theatre), Gorilla (Polka theatre), Beauty And The Beast (Young Vic), ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (Unicorn theatre) and Peter Pan (Richmond theatre) will all stage a relaxed performance.