I was very very lucky to have a friend from work who is besties with the lighting manager at Mama Mia, that was at the time showing at the Prince of Wales Theatre. It meant that we got relatively cheap tickets AND backstage tour. Honestly, it was amazing. I'd never been interested in seeing Mamma Mia originally. I didn't know much about it, I knew there were ABBA songs, but apart from that I was pretty oblivious. Still, I wasn't going to turn down a backstage tour so I agreed instantly and off we went.
They don't let you take photos of the stage, but they were happy for us to stand on stage and take photos out into the theatre. So fun!
We arrived at the theatre just off Piccadilly a while after work. We were met at the Stage Door by the brilliant Trevor, and signed in. And woah buddy. What the customer see's at the theatre is gorgeous - the front is phenomenal, it's all very lush. The back? It's a warren of small little places with props, and little wardrobe spaces, and lights and all sorts. It felt small scale industrial, like someones well lit workshop. It's all very organised, which I wouldn't have noticed in what looks like chaos unless it was pointed out to me. It was a very very slick operation - everything is labelled, and everything has its place. They've been running the show a while so they've had practice at making everything very smooth.
At the time there was some of the technicians working on the set, and you could see the tracks of how everything moved mechanically, and fit together. So very clever, I have a lot of respect for set designers. We got to see under the stage, the elevator the actors appear out from. Down there is also where they keep the understudies costumes. And woah. Woah buddy. There was A LOT of them. for each understudy there was every costume for several of the characters. I was impressed, and suddenly the concept of what a show wardrobe/costume team does just got exponentially bigger in my mind. There was rows and rows and rows of shiny, sparkly clothes! It was insane.
Trevor took us up the back stairs (so many stairs!) to all the random little offices and dressing rooms of the actors. They're tiny tiny tiny little things where everything is crammed in. It was insane to think of all the running around the cast + crew have to do, and they do it all around the audience, who have no idea that behind the walls there are people hanging out and moving around in tiny cramped spaces. It's such a contrast from the very lush front of house.
We also got to see where the spots sit. I LOVED the spots! It seems like it would be a great job. Spots are the people who control the spot lights for the show. They sit way high up, above the audience. They have a great view (obviously) and it looked like they all enjoyed what they did. There was couches in their room, and a guitar, and it just felt super comfortable. Also, apparently they'd been doing the show so very long that they didn't need the cues or anything. I thought it was amazing! On a random side note, the lights looked super heavy (I know that they rent lights from a lighting company) and I wondered what kind of mission it was to get the lights up the warren of stairs...
Next to the spot room was where Trevor hangs out, and where all the lights are controlled. Everything is done automatically, but just in case it all goes wrong, there is a guy who knows what to do, and knows the light show. It was AMAZING to see, he showed us some of the things the lights could do, and I was well impressed. There was also a shitload of lights. Thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds worth of lights. It was amazing to see, and really gave me pause about what it cost to run a show like this, and how much the show might make if costs like this are considered acceptable.
The other cool thing that he showed us was the lights embedded in the disco floor. It was pretty amazing! I was sad to hear that when they moved (they're now at the Novello Theatre) they didn't rebuild the light floor. I think the only Mamma Mia that has the fancy floor is now on Broadway.
The show itself? Pretty fun. I didn't know much about the show (other than it was ABBA songs) and I thought it was kinda fun. The boys were cute, and I liked that there was a fair few older actors playing leading roles in this one (usually the stars are hot young things that make me feel average. This made things feel more comfortable). I got all caught up in the story, which was fun, and the jokes were perfectly timed, funny, and frequent. Loved it!
And at the end, we knew we were allowed/expected to dance (and that eventually everyone else in the audience would join in and dance too), so we got up early and wiggled our hips and threw our hands in the air. It was fun! Liberating! I had a massive grin on my face - I love dancing! And it was pretty cool to be dancing to pretty much live music. I felt like we were dancing with the cast, which I did expect. It was great!
I couldn't find the source of this image, but if someone does, I'd love to credit the photographer!
Afterwards we met T by the stage door (though I felt like a weird stalker/groupie as the stars came out, so we moved further up the road) and he told us all the goss about the actors. I'd mentioned on a whim that it would be cool if the two of the main two characters that got together at the end (Gary Milner as Sam Carmichael + Sally Ann Triplett as Donna Sheridan) were together in real life, and it turns out they were! I was stoked for them! They had a lot of chemistry on stage, and I was pretty chuffed with life when I saw them get into a taxi together. Good for them, right?
Mamma Mia was definitely a good show to go see. I'm not sure I'd see it twice, but I really enjoyed the refreshing change of pace with the actors. It was great. If you are interested, you should definitely check it out. We got relatively okay seats for a mere £35, which was definitely worth it.
Have any of you guys seen Mamma Mia? What did you think?