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Gemma Goggin as Rosie Josie Benson as Tanya Mazz Murray as Donna Sheridan. Photo by Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

Mamma Mia!

Josie Benson, Tanya, MAMMA MIA!, Novello Theatre

When did you catch the performing bug?

When I was around 17, I went to see a production of ‘Carmen Jones’ at the Old Vic. I was utterly swept off my feet by the exuberant energy & talent of the cast. I looked at my mum & said ‘I want to do that one day!’.

What was it like to be shot by Rankin?

Being photographed by the legendary ‘Rankin’ was somewhat nerve wracking, I mean, Rankin has shot some of the worlds most beautiful women! Then there’s little old me! But he was so lovely, we had a real giggle.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It’s the best job in the world! I get to play dress up every night! MAMMA MIA! is an iconic success, a winning formula. I’m performing with an incredible cast. We all get to bring so much joy to the audience every night, we need that, in this crazy world.

What’s the journey been like for you from theatres closing to reopening?

Dismay! the industry was basically abandoned, which resulted in an unbreakable sense of camaraderie. We’re back, & that’s wonderful, but there’s so much this Government needs to do to ensure we are supported, now & in the future.

What’s the thing you missed the most about live performance?

The unpredictability of it all, there’s excitement in that. Although the lines & the music stay the same, the audience changes every night, which inevitably reflects your performance too!


Gemma Goggin, Rosie, MAMMA MIA!, Novello Theatre

What was the journey like for you from theatres closing to reopening?

Well I was home-schooling for a lot of it so the start of lockdown was fairly horrendous! And at points it felt like the Industry might not survive. So watching as each show came back, and getting to be back in a room doing what we love, was amazing.

How does it feel to be back?

Joyous. Absobloodylutely joyous. Life affirming.

What did you miss about working in live theatre?

There is something special about the relationship between performer and audience, and the empathy that comes with that, alongside all the other emotions. I cried the first time I was back in a theatre. It takes us to places we all need to go, but don’t often get to.


Ruth McCorkindale, Head of Wardrobe, Mamma Mia!, Novello Theatre

What has the journey been like to getting back to theatres reopening? 

So, we had a really horrible, as everyone did you know, 18 months or whatever, feeling absolutely desolate without our jobs. And then thinking, what on Earth can I possibly do to try and, you know, carry on doing this? Or will it ever come back? Feeling like it was gone forever. That was really terrifying and awful and like a mourning, but getting back into it was instantly like walking back into your own house. I’m sure everyone is saying that, it feels so deeply relaxed coming back into work.

So, although it was manic when we first had to open ’cause we had to condense down everything that would normally take about six months preproduction to do, they had to do in about four weeks. It was very, very busy but exciting, busy and good stress. It was very positive stress to get it back open again and it’s amazing to be open again. 

What is it like to be back? How does it feel when things are kind of regaining a sense of normality? 

It just feels really, really secure, even if it doesn’t last for that long, if that makes sense. It just makes you feel like you’re back doing a hundred percent what you absolutely love doing. So, there’s no panic about what am I going to do next or, you know, what will I try and reinvent myself as, or whatever. It feels really like landing back home, doing what you do. Yeah, because we’ve done it for such a long time. It definitely reinstates the… I know exactly this is exactly what I’d rather be doing every day than any other job. 

And what was the thing that you missed the most about live performances? 

Everything. Everything, all the people and the teamwork of everyone all working towards putting one thing on, being together every day. And then hearing in the audience reaction. And having that, having such a strong purpose of doing things every day from beginning to end. Because it’s quite a, it’s like a big machine of, you do this for a reason, and then you run through all the different moments every day to get to the end result. But it really ticks off your day in a bubble of, ‘I’ve now achieved what I’m meant to do today’. Even if you fail, most of the things or loads of things go wrong, it doesn’t matter. It’s like a form or a driving thing, gives you energy, more every day. 


Mazz Murray, Donna Sheridan, MAMMA MIA!, Novello Theatre

Mazz Murray, Mamma Mia (c) Rankin

What was the journey like for you from theatres closing to reopening?

It was a well earned rest and time with my family. It was only ever a question of when will we return for me.

How does it feel to be back?

Not the same as before, people are still recovering from their own personal routes to this point. But so wonderful to feel the silence is over.

What did you miss about working in live theatre?

The social aspect, the gang feeling and the pay cheque. It feels good to sweat the small stuff again!