In the heart of the O2 lay a treasure of Abba delight, choruses of ‘Super Trouper’ cascading through the night. The two girls decked in their finest vintage garms ran into the arena with glee, in search of Mamma Mia The Party, where their wildest dreams would come true. A Greek Taverna awash in stone white and Santorini blue crept into their imaginations, the bold blue entrance woven with shocking pink fuchsias. Mamma Mia The Party was as much a homage to the revelry of Greece as it was a love letter to Abba, trellises woven with braided flowers, fountains pouring with liquids spooling into mouths. The ouzos dripping down dribbling chins, the songs of Greece doing celebratory dances around the room. Greek feta salads drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, the raucous cheers of a crowd high on energetic performances.
We would be dazzled and entranced by cirque de soleil esque dancers, whose lithe bodies were wrapped around twirling hoops, a ball of energy high up in the stage’s sky. We would be awestruck by the sheer talent of the leads Adam and Konstantina, who narrated timeless renditions of Mamma Mia classics with heartfelt clarity. And most of all we would let our hair down and have fun, reveling in a vibrant display of 23 cult songs that portrayed a rainbow of emotions. We boogied, we danced, we laughed. We drank, we ate, we conversed. But above the rest was a welcoming sense of community, a room full of Abba fans, who succumbed to the hype of immersive dining, swept into a world of marvelous intrigue. And so our night began, the lady in monochrome, a polka dot gown bequeathed her figure, her friend in a charming white blouse, stumbling into a universe where Mamma Mia The Party was our reality, unadulterated pleasure coursing through our veins.
The journey began in a charming way, a foray beyond the Greek island of Skopelos, where Mamma Mia, the Movie was filmed, but nevertheless an enchanting tale where love and culture merged in one fantastical vision. Our scene began, the crowd waited with baited breath, for Nikos the local tavern owner swept grandiosely into the room, twinkling notes on the tip of his personable tongue. From the offset Nikos was a larger than life personality, a character who had decided to capitalize on the tourist influx by hosting a Mamma Mia! themed party at his taverna, and boy did he deliver. It would be a classic narrative with twists and turns, an infectious, feel-good energetic stage production that would turn even the most stoic ‘Anti-ABBA’ naysayer’s frown upside down. A rough day would be smoothed over with one cheeky smile, tears from day’s past dried up with a singular song, famished bellies sated by Taverna delights, thirst quenched with oozing red wine. In the hours that followed we would laugh, dance and sing with effortless abandonment and joy as we left all our worries at the devil’s door. Instead the Monochrome ladies supped on Greek philosophies, an overarching theme of timeless love, familial devotion and destiny woven into each sip, placation occurred.
We followed the adventures of Nikos with avid interest, his booming, theatrical almost operatic voice made for ballads, married to a British woman named Kate, whose voice was as equally as impressive, as they narrated the tale of how they fell in love, she who worked on the Mamma Mia original, he who was spellbound by her wit, charm and talent. The proof was in the pudding, a beautiful and vivacious daughter named Konstantina the fruit of their loins, who fell in love with a British man named Adam, an endless cycle of love is love. We did not mind the ‘tried and tested’ opera theme plot, nor did we mind it being overly littered with cliches, instead we settled in for the long haul,peppered with food in between musical hiatuses.
Like any musical, Mamma Mia The Party’s narrative revolved around a ‘generational love story’, where parents are reminded of how ‘forbidden or looked down upon their love was’ when history repeats itself with their daughter. Like her father Nikos, Konstantina falls in love with someone outside of her culture, Adam a British man who works at the Taverna. Yet unexpectedly the father abhors the union, claiming that she must marry a Greek boy, even though he himself married a British woman. The plot is predictable at times, but a happy ending ensues, as one by one the characters that enter our hearts in a display of song and dance find love, family, friends and laughter, an important life lesson that even the audience should catch on to. After all it might be a musical but even musicals can become allegories for the way that we should live our lives. And what did Mamma Mia The Party teach me? That even with life’s ups and downs, even with the changes that enter our lives and change our perspectives on reality, even with the fear of the unknown that laces our lips, we should be good, true, mindful, tolerant, warm and open to change. And wasn’t this the most important lesson of all that our Mamma Mia The Party cast learned?
Mamma Mia The Party was just as much a riotous family affair as it was a public party, the audience immersed fully in the Mamma Mia themed dining experience, where even the waiters doubled up as cast members, propping up mezze platters of Taramasalata, Tzatziki and olives, while expertly jiving in time to the music. One couldn’t help but admire the slickness of an operation where servers turn into dancers, one of which Bella, ended up being a magical aerobic gymnast who made the ‘hoop’ her kingdom, emblazoned with flashing lights, as she sang upside down, spinning in circles and in the air. We clapped with amazement, as one by one, cast members, no matter how small or big their part, had a chance to shine, until we the audience members were no longer spectators gawking into a world outside our own but active partygoers, who surrendered to the magic of the evening, once caterpillars turned into magical butterflies, we were entranced. After all resistance would not only be futile; it would be actively counter-productive in this magical edition of Mamma Mia, whose party left us in high spirits.
It was no doubt, (at least to us who were sober still) , that the audience’s energy was infused with good ol’ Vinho talk, crowd members shouting and dancing wildly, quite literally encapsulating the spirit of celebratory parties. But while we were sober enough to dissect each act, 1, 2, 3 with meticulous finesse, we nevertheless shrugged our shoulders with abandon and slurped on the crowd’s energy, a buzz that coursed through our veins and made us feel alive in an unexpected way. Whether you were a tee-total, sober enough or having a fun drunk night, Mamma Mia the Party was a dizzying, dazzling and dynamic experience that was just was much an interactive 3D Art Prop as it was a show, the spellbinding design of Bengt Froderberg creating a performance space that exuded spectacular theatrics. From when the auditorium was filled with hundreds of glowing lanterns, to the silver moon high in a twinkling blue night sky , Froderberg had put together all the key ingredients needed to turn the O2 into a giant Las Vegas esque installation, oh how we reveled. And who could forget the lighting, where red,blues, greens and golds dazzled around the stage, as Konstantina implored the audience to join in the fun, an Abba Mashup with true heart at the centre of its core. Put together by none other than Co-Producers Raine Söderlundh and Stacey Haynes, these lovelies also choreographed Mamma Mia The Party into the three delectable acts that we saw before us.
It would be last but not least as we embarked upon the food, a sumptuous three course meal we had hoped for, what did we get? The Mezze would come first, plump green Kalmata olives, stuffed with pimento, laced with brine, vine cherry tomatoes in a delectable mint and balsamic dressing, we craved it heartily. Swathes of roasted red pepper hummus we layered atop home baked bread, crumbs falling into our hungry mouths we felt like Hansel and Gretel. There was Taramasalata made from fish roe doused in olive oil for the meat eaters, and Tzatziki for me , drizzled lovingly on Spankopita, the light and zesty mint offsetting the rich creaminess of the filo pastries gorgeously stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. Along came the starters, 1,2,3 a traditional Greek Salad, vinegerette delight, tomatoes pregnant with olive oil dripping, salty black olives on a bed of juicy lettuce. And while the fish enthusiasts wrapped their tongues around charred octopus guzzling ouzo and wild oregano dressing , I was more than content to polish off the remaining morsels of homemade bread dipped in Tzatziki, until alas the bread was no more.
The mains were trickier that much was true, those damn wretched allergies, the vegetarian was not meant to be. But hurrah the waitress had come to save the day, meticulously batting away the baddies that kept coming my way. No she ‘cried’ she cannot eat that as the kitchen attempted to serve me dishes I was allergic to, I was impressed by her attention to detail, I did not have to remind her twice. She looked almost horrified when I was served potatoes yiachni with courgettes and doubly so when the vegetarian option, a cheesy ‘shepherds’ pie meant for me was served to someone else. I was disappointed, albeit for a mere second, why would my allergen free dish be served elsewhere? But then as if by magic a veggie cheese cottage pie arrived, along with a side order of potatoes yiachni without the courgettes, ‘Yay’ I cried! The potatoes were stewed with onion,herbs and tomatoes and oh boy did it hit the right spot.The alternative cheese cottage pie?Not so much it was overly cheesy, something I never thought I would say given my love of cheese. The meaties however were delighted with their mains, Lamb Kleftiko dressed in confit garlic with saltsa, beef flank paired with chargrilled vegetables, ladled with Mediterranean sauce.
A side of cracked wheat with pomegranate and herbs was a pleasant enough dish,the pomegranates bursting with unbridled pride, juice across my lips.I helped myself to more potatoes as the show came to its final conclusion, bathed in a sea of glorious lights, we felt entranced.We sipped our wine with measured sips, as our stress melted away,losing ourselves in the spirit of Mamma Mia The Party,we felt blessed. It was the El Futuro No Está Escrito’, Tempranillo/Syrah, from Spain that became the mascot for Mamma Mia The Party, a red wine that was cream, soft and spicy with a nicely modern touch of freshness and balance. And who could forget the easy going nature the wine whose drinkability was an exhortation to enjoy life in the moment and cherish every moment that passes. After all ‘El Futuro Noo Esta Escrito’ quite literally translates as ‘the future is not written’. And in that unwritten future had we forseen that Mamma Mia The Party would be quite so delightfully camp?Not a lick. The curtain call was nearing its due, our dessert was served Portokalopita orange cake with confit orange, a zested slice of dreams. It was beautifully moist, wondrously so,washed down with decaf latte, it settled down a treat, I craved second helpings. But alas the cake was gone and so was the show, as we retreated into the night, Abba ravers on the dance floor still partying it up.We smiled.
Would You Go To Mamma Mia The Party?
Please note I was a guest of Mamma Mia the Party via LovepopUpsLondon but all thoughts are my own and are ot affected by complimentary services.