MAMMA MIA – 2009

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MAMMA MIA! – introduction

Welcome to this introduction to Mamma Mia! – a musical based around songs by the
1970’s pop group ABBA. Music and lyrics are by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus,
with some songs by Stig Anderson. The book is by Catherine Johnson, and the
production is directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

The VocalEyes audio-described performance will be given on Tuesday 17 th November
at the Prince of Wales Theatre. There will be a touch tour at 5.45pm, the introductory
notes will start at 7.15, and the performance itself at 7.30pm. For safety reasons the
number of people able to attend the touch tour are limited and have been allocated on a
‘first come, first serve’ basis. If you have not already done so, please could you confirm
with the theatre whether or not you have a place on the touch tour. Their number is
0131 524 3301

The production lasts for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including an interval.
The live audio description will be given for VocalEyes by Louise Fryer and Julia Grundy

There now follows information about Mamma Mia which includes descriptions of the set,
costumes and characters. This will be followed by some useful information and contact

The story is set on a tiny, imaginary Greek island. When we first enter the auditorium
the stage is screened from us by a front cloth, streaked with dappled blue light. The
front of the stage projects in a slight curve towards the auditorium. The band is
positioned just under the curve of the stage and the Musical Director sits at a keyboard,
facing them.

After the overture, the front cloth lifts. The sides and back of the box-shaped stage are,
again, a wash of blue. Under different lighting conditions the stage is, at times, a vibrant
sea-green, at other times a brilliant azure, suggesting endless blue sky merging with a
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crystal clear sea. Around the edge, the floor of the stage is made of wavy blue boards,
framing a circular cobbled area in the centre. Curving across from the back right-hand
corner to the front left corner of the stage, is a path made of slats of wood, like a

The action is centred round Donna’s Taverna. We visit the beach outside the Taverna,
the Taverna’s central courtyard, and a couple of identical bedrooms inside.

The set is very simple, just two gently curved whitewashed walls, roughly plastered.
The walls are free-standing and moveable, each just over half a metre thick - five
metres high at one end, sloping down to just over three metres at the other. The left
hand wall is about 7 metres long, the right-hand wall is shorter, only about 3 metres

Set into each wall is a door made of wooden planks, painted blue, but faded as if by the
sun and the sea air. There are also metal rungs positioned at varying heights. These
have rusted and stained the white plaster.

These curved walls can be moved so that sometimes the outside of the curve is facing
us. At other times the inside of the curve is facing us.

The play begins on the beach, and the walls are positioned to create the exterior of the
Taverna. They stand side by side, wrapping around the front edge of the cobbled area,
screening it from view.

The door in the left hand wall is a double door, raised a metre above ground level. At its
base is a ledge, which the characters can sit on. A post box is set into the wall on the

As the action moves to the courtyard of the Taverna, the walls are moved into a new
configuration. They divide and travel – one to the left, one to the right, around the outer
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edge of the circle. With their inner faces now towards us, the walls wrap around the
back of the courtyard.

Overhung by the green branches of a tree, the left hand wall features a narrow flight of
steps rising from ground level to the top, as if to the roof. To the right of these steps,
double doors lead from unseen rooms inside the Taverna and open onto a stone
platform with a couple more steps leading down into the courtyard.

The shorter right hand wall features a similar platform in front of a narrower blue door.
Metal handrails are set into the wall on either side of the door.

The two walls are separated by a narrow gap - the width of the boardwalk – making the
main entrance into the taverna from outside. In the courtyard itself are two small square
tables, each faded blue and with a scrubbed pine top. Blue painted wooden chairs with
cane seats are drawn up to them. Another chair stands on its own on the far left, near
the narrow flight of steps. Resting by the bottom step is an acoustic guitar.

From the courtyard we move to a bedroom inside the Taverna. Each wall is swung
round so that its outer face is towards us. The walls are set side by side, and overlap
slightly, with the right hand wall in front, creating a gap which is used as an entrance.

The blue double doors in the left hand wall stand open, forming a tall window, though
which the green leaves of the tree can be glimpsed. To the left is a double bed, with an
iron frame. The bed is covered by a blue and white bedspread with a tasselled fringe.
On the right is a small dressing table and chair, and a wooden stool.

When we return to the beach, the prow of a wooden fishing boat juts out from the wings
on the left hand side of the stage. The boat is painted in bands of white, light blue and
dark blue. Its name is painted on a small wooden plaque by the prow, it’s called
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There are 28 performers in the company with 12 main characters.

The first person we meet is Sophie Sheridan. Sophie is a pretty young woman aged
about twenty of medium height, with glossy shoulder length chestnut hair. Her slightly
elfin face has big dark eyes and a finely chiselled but determined chin. Lithe and
tanned, Sophie is girlish and unaffected; flirting cheekily with the older men, or playfully
giggling with her friends. However at times, particularly when we first meet her, she can
be still and thoughtful. She often wears beach clothes, but first appears in a pale blue
blouse worn above a flowing blue skirt

Sophie’s mother, Donna Sheridan, runs the island’s only Taverna. Donna is in her mid
forties; a striking woman with smooth dark hair worn shoulder length; a still girlish face
that has a healthy fresh air tan, dark eyes and a generous mouth which splits into a
broad enthusiastic smile. Her everyday clothes are comfortable rather than glamorous;
a pale blue cheesecloth top under a baggy pair of navy dungarees, hide her shapely
figure. A little touch of glamour is added by a chunky turquoise necklace and a hair
band in the same colour. Donna is relaxed and unselfconscious; her movements are
supple and athletic, and still retaining a youthful impulsiveness. Her manner is forthright
and direct with everyone she meets.

In her younger days Donna sang in a pop group, Donna and the Dynamos. The former
Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, come to visit.

Tanya is about the same age as Donna, and is tall and statuesque. She has rich
mahogany coloured hair and her attractive face, with its fine features and high
cheekbones, is heavily made up. Tanya is highly strung, like a nervous greyhound, and
waves her hands as she talks. Like Donna, Tanya still moves and dances easily and
athletically, still able to perform high kicks and the latest fashion in dances steps. Unlike
the others, Tanya definitely dresses for glamour rather than comfort; she has an array of
smart, sophisticated clothes, and is seen first wearing a white trouser suit and gold high
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heeled sandals. Later she dons a tight cream dress, slit up the slide revealing the full
length of her graceful legs.

The final member of the trio is Rosie, a complete contrast. She is the same age, but
short and plump, with a round face, twinkling eyes, a big cheerful smile, and her thick
dark hair worn in a silky bob. Rosie has a bustling, commonsense air, but her bubbly
personality constantly breaks through, especially when reunited with her two friends.
Rosie is certainly no longer as athletic as the others, her clothes strain across her
chubby figure; she huffs and puffs as they go into their dance routines, although she
attempts to keep up with good humour combined with grim determination.

Three other guests arrive at Donna’s Taverna; three men, all in their mid forties.

Harry Bright is a small neat man. He has short brown hair, dark eyes and a thin
mouth. Although he is initially precise and rather formal, and is obviously uncomfortable
in the heat, Harry’s manner soon relaxes and opens up; he begins to wave his hands
with a flourish as he talks. He arrives on the island wearing neatly pressed clothes, a
white linen top and beige slacks.

By contrast Bill Austin is somewhat dishevelled. He is the tallest of the three men, a
broad shouldered man with curly brown hair, and his square face wears a pleasant,
open expression with an easy smile which wrinkles the attractive laugh lines around his
dark eyes. Dressed in a crumpled safari jacket and beige trousers, with an old broad
brimmed hat crammed on his head, Bill is hot and red-faced in the heat.

The third of the middle aged men is Sam Carmichael, a slim man of medium height.
His face is attractive and expressive, with short, black hair, dark eyes and dimples in his
cheeks that keep his looks still boyish. Unlike the other two men, Sam is self
possessed and cool in the heat, and he moves with an easy confidence. He is an
architect, dressed with a designer’s casual style; white linen trousers and a loose white
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Apart from the guests at the Taverna, there is a crowd of young people on the island,
enjoying the sun and sand, or working in the Taverna.

Sophie’s fiancé, Sky, is just above medium height, with a well-toned, muscled body,
and powerful shoulders. He is very good looking; with a slim face, dark eyes set into
high cheekbones, and his dark hair gelled and spiky. Like Sophie Sky is lively and
impulsive with a friendly, uncomplicated manner.

Sophie’s two girlfriends mirror her mother’s friends; one, Lisa, being petite, with blonde
hair, and the other Ali, is tall and slim, with silky dark hair.

Pepper and Eddie are the two lithe young men who help out in Donna’s Taverna.
Pepper has tousled brown hair framing a slim face; he is always ready to show off his
spectacular dancing skills, and Eddie is more muscly, with spiky dark hair above a
square jawed face.

The rest of Sophie’s friends are boys and girls of similar age; all in late teens or early
twenties. They dress in beach clothes; shorts, t shirts, trunks and beach dresses, in a
variety of bright colours: lime greens, pinks and purples.

For the most part everyone dresses informally to soak up the Greek sun, but when
Donna, Tanya and Rosie reunite to perform as The Dynamos they wear spectacular
outfits of white satin; tight fitting tops and trousers, with silver trimmings and large belts
with chunky silver buckles. Each costume is slightly different, cut to flatter each woman.
Tanya’s long legs are shown off by her knee length silver boots with platform soles.
Donna has flowing sleeves and large silver ruffled flares at the bottoms of her trousers;
while Rosie has cascades of transparent silver gauze attached to her wrists and the
back of her costume, which float out behind her like wings, disguising her fuller figure.
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Cast and production credits
Donna is played by          Sally Ann Triplett
her daughter Sophie by      Niamh Perry
Tanya is played by          Jane Gurnett, and
Rosie by                    Katy Secombe
Three visitors to the island are
Harry Bright, played by            Paul Ryan
Bill Austin, by                    Christopher Hollis, and
Sam Carmichael, by                 Norman Bowman
Sophie’s fiancé Sky is played by Oliver J. Hembrough, and
his friends are
Pepper, played by                  Ben Heathcote, and
Eddie by                           Sam Mackay
Sophie’s friends are
Lisa, played by                    Laura Selwood, and
Ali, played by                     Jodie Read

The part of Father Alexander is played by Gerard Leighton Duffy. Other roles are
played by members of the Ensemble: Natalie Andreou, Lucy Boldero, Adam
Clayton-Smith, Peter Challis, Nicholas Duncan, Melissa Jacques, Louisa Lydell,
Andy Rees, Kimmi Richards, Leanne Rogers, Russell Smith, Anthony Topham
and Nicky Wilson.

The production has been designed by              Mark Thompson
With lighting by                                 Howard Harrison
The choreography is by                           Anthony Van Laast
And the director is                              Phyllida Lloyd

Useful information and contact numbers

Guide dogs are welcome at the Prince of Wales theatre. If you are bringing a Guide
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Dog, please let the theatre know in advance of your visit, if you have not already done
so. Guide dogs can remain with owners in the auditorium during the performance - or
with a member of the front of house team if you prefer.

If you need to let the theatre know you are bringing a guide dog, or if you require
further information before your visit, you can phone one of the three following numbers:
Graham Sykes the General Manager on 020 7766 2102, Jane Grater the Theatre
Manager on 020 7766 2103, or the box office on 0870 011 7574.

To contact VocalEyes, call us on 020 7375 1043. You can receive a copy of the free
VocalEyes Newsletter with full details on all our work by calling us or by following the
links on the VocalEyes accessible website. The Newsletter is available in print, Braille,
on CD or via e-mail. The website address is

VocalEyes is a charity funded by Arts Council England.