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Special Interest Matter - Encore Theatre Co. Production - Mamma Mia

Tuesday 16 November

[11.25 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President -

Mamma mia, here I go again,

My my, how can I resist you?

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my just how much I've missed you?

Mr President, we have missed live productions and Encore Theatre Company's productions in our Princess Theatre.

Today, I speak about one of the best and most professional productions I have ever seen. I am, of course, talking about the recent run of Mamma Mia in Launceston, produced by the Encore Theatre Company with a two-week run at the Princess Theatre, directed by Launceston's own deputy mayor, Danny Gibson, who also worked as stage manager; executive producers Jamie Hillard and Belinda King; musical directors Denise Sam and Michael Stocks; and choreography by Michelle Withington.

Mamma Mia was truly a tour de force in highlighting just what talented people we have in our northern arts sector. Of course, I cannot simply acknowledge the behind-the-scene works without highlighting the sublime talents of the show's stars: Denise Sam, Lisa Thomas, Brooke Targett, Sinead Tracey, Dean Cocker, Matt Gower, Ross Marsden and Mason Waller, along with the company cast, whose voices were as big as ABBA themselves.

It took us a long time to get to the point where we could actually go and see Mamma Mia, which had been in production since COVID‑19 put the Encore Theatre Company into hiatus. The past 18 months presented them with the enormous challenge of trying to survive the pandemic and remain viable to successfully restart the company. Consequently, those who worked to make Mamma Mia actually twice poured countless hours of experience and expertise into a project that became very much anticipated with restrictions being lifted in the wake of the pandemic. Not only were the cast and crew increasingly excited to actually put on the show, audiences were increasingly excited to see it. As a result, the opening of this production was really quite an emotional affair, with the long anticipated show finally raising curtains on the evening of 22 October.

By way of a brief synopsis for anyone who was not able to see it, on a small Greek island Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding - one that includes her father giving her away. The problem is that Sophie does not know who her father might be. Her mother, Donna, the former lead singer of the 1970s pop group, Donna and the Dynamos, refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands.

Sneaking a peak at her mother's old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers - Sam, Bill and Harry. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she will know her father when she sees him, but when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought.

Told through the legendary music of ABBA, Mamma Mia has become a worldwide sensation that has audiences everywhere dancing and singing along. Launceston was no exception to this.

While the show containing the entire ABBA discography has not quite yet become a reality, Mamma Mia features some of my fabulous absolute favourites and some of their biggest hits, including 'I have a Dream', 'Money, Money, Money', 'Dancing Queen', 'Super Trouper', 'SOS', 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'Take a Chance on Me', 'Waterloo' and, of course, 'Mamma Mia'.

Mr President, I was certainly transported back to my youth and recalled with vivid imagination all my old ABBA LP records - which of course I still have - and the songs that have been a formative part of my life.

Mamma Mia was masterfully put together and the production values were second to none. I have quite literally not heard a single critical word about it. On the contrary, I have heard only how fabulous the sets looked, how immersive the sounds, voices and music were, how professionally the cast performed, and how very hard the directors, producers and choreographer worked.

Mr President, this show was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience - and for me, twice in a lifetime, because I was fortunate to go to both the opening and final night. It was just so good. It has really gone a long way to highlighting what immensely talented people we have in our part of the state. I sincerely congratulate Danny, BJ, Denise, Michael and Michelle, along with the enormously talented cast and company who put on this show. It was truly such a pleasure to see.

Members - Hear, hear.


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