“Mamma Mia, here I go again!”

If you’re not familiar with the title song of the ABBA jukebox musical, Mamma Mia!, you may have been living under a rock! Should that be the case, let’s bring you up to speed.

Mamma Mia! centres around 20-year-old Sophie who is about to get married. She wishes to have her father walk her down the aisle, but she faces the small problem of not knowing who he is. After reading her reading old diaries which belong to her mother Donna, she arrives at the conclusion that she has three possible fathers. Sophie invites all three men to the wedding without telling her mother. From there, confusion and hilarity reign.

CLOC Music Theatre present their season of Mamma Mia! From October 11-26 at the National Theatre in St Kilda. We caught up with Rosa McCarty (Donna) and India Morris (Sophie) as the company heads into the final week of rehearsals.

Rosa McCarty as Donna and India Morris as Sophie

Morris knew she wanted to be involved in CLOC’s production as soon as auditions were announced. “ABBA has been a part of my entire life, as my mother is a huge ABBA fan”, says Morris. “[…] when the musical came out, I saw it on the West End and was instantly smitten with the spectacle, the dancing, and the sheer fun of it all.  By then, I was already performing at school, and dreamt about the day when I would be old enough to play Sophie, my dream ABBA role”.

Like Morris, McCarty had also grown up with ABBA as a part of her childhood, and she was drawn to the role of Donna. “I’m always attracted to shows with a strong female protagonist, and Mamma Mia! certainly has this”, says McCarty. “What’s interesting about this show is that the gender stereotypes are reversed compared to traditional musical theatre. The women are the focus and the men are accessories to the plot – the love interests”.

The ABBA catalogue of songs is vast and varied, with a great many of their most popular songs making an appearance in the show, including the likes of ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Money Money Money’, and ‘SOS’. For Morris, one song stands out as her favourite ABBA song – “Definitely ‘The Winner Takes It All’!”, smiles Morris. “There are a lot of happy tappy songs in the ABBA catalogue and in the show.  This is one of the more emotional and moving songs that ABBA ever produced, as it was written nearer the end of their time as a group when both their personal marriages were ending, and must have been a very hard song for them to perform as it was reflective of what they were going through at the time.  For me, it has always packed a huge emotional punch.  Although I do not get to sing the song, watching Rosa sing it at such a pivotal point in the show is a privilege and moment that I will long remember.  It is impossible to watch her perform this without admiration, awe and tears”. 

When asked to name a favourite moment in Mamma Mia!, Morris and McCarty are on the same page. “It is one of the quieter ones – when I come to my mother Donna to ask her to help me get ready for my wedding”, reflects Morris.  “As she helps me dress and does my hair and makeup, she sings the beautiful “Slipping Through My Fingers”, in which she reflects on her life as a mother and on our relationship with each other.  Both Rosa and I find it hard to get through that scene without crying, as we both feel so bonded to each other and the song is really about the unconditional love between a mother and a daughter”. McCarty also enjoys the performances of her Dynamo colleagues. “I always enjoy watching Carolyn Waddell (Rosie) – she is such a sophisticated performer and always hilarious”, smiles McCarty. “Pam Christie Birkett (Tanya) is a knockout in “Does Your Mother Know” – it’s a showstopper. I really enjoy the frivolity and humour in my scenes with Carolyn and Pam”.

With its well-loved songs and feel good story, Mamma Mia! is a show not to be missed. Tickets for CLOC’s upcoming season can be bought here: https://cloc.org.au/event/mammamia/

Pam Christie-Birkett as Tanya, Rosa McCarty as Donna, and Carolyn Waddell as Rosie.