Tag Archives: AJ Bentley

Mamma Mia! The Party 

The O2


Mamma Mia! The Party

Mamma Mia! The Party

The O2

Visited – September 2019


“you’d have to be the grumpiest stick-in-the-mud not to be swept along by the euphoria of the evening”


The phenomenal success of the Mamma Mia! stage show, which opened in London in 1999 is almost folklore now. Seen by more than 65 million people in over 450 cities and in 16 languages it was followed by the successful film, starring Meryl Street and Amanda Seyfried in 2008. Filmed on location on the small Greek island of Skopelos, it is perhaps one of the most ‘feel-good’ movies ever produced. At the end of each day’s filming the cast and crew would walk the narrow, winding alleys towards the harbour and have dinner in one of the tavernas. A favourite was one that looked out onto the Aegean Sea, run by Nikos, a widower with a young daughter. As the sun set and the moon rose, love blossomed and Nikos fell in love with Kate, the film’s costume designer. The rest is history, as they say. Although not quite – this is all in the imagination of Björn Ulvaeus (one quarter of ABBA and creator of Mamma Mia! The Party).

But imagine visiting Nikos’ Taverna under the tinted glow of a Grecian sunset twelve years later. The attention that the film bestowed on Skopelos is evident in the restaurant’s success; Nikos has enlisted quite a few hired hands including his now blossoming daughter, his wayward English nephew, an accident-prone chef and a host of all dancing, all playing, all singing waiters and waitresses. It’s hard to imagine, as you step out into the drizzle at North Greenwich Underground, that this oasis exists behind a sunburnt door tucked away in the O2. For four hours you leave your troubles behind and bathe in the bougainvillea scented air like you’ve just wandered off the beach and the night is yours. And what a night: a feast for all the senses. When not singing, the waiters bring you plates of Tzatziki, Spanakopita, Kleftiko, Yiachni, Baklava and Briam. You don’t understand what it means but it is delicious. And you don’t understand the show either, but you don’t care; you’re too busy loving every minute of it. As an ‘interactive dining experience’ it puts all other immersive theatre to shame. The scale is epic but the attention to detail is intimate.

But let’s not forget what this is all about. Three dozen Abba songs are rolled out between the courses. But don’t let that put you off. Even if you’re not a fan you’d have to be the grumpiest stick-in-the-mud not to be swept along by the euphoria of the evening. It starts off as a bit of fun but descends into spectacular chaos. High-brow it ain’t – but if you love Abba (and, yes, I’m including all those who pretend not to), and if you like a bit of escapism and fun then this is the show for you. It doesn’t come cheap but it’s worth every drachma.


Article and main photograph by Jonathan Evans


Mamma Mia The Party

Mamma Mia! The Party

The O2 until 16th February




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The Band – Full Cast

The full cast are now announced for David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Take That’s UK Tour of Tim Firth’s new musical, THE BAND, with the music of Take That. The tour will begin at Manchester Opera House on 8 September, with a national press night on Tuesday 26 September 2017.

The advance box office for the tour has now topped a record-breaking £10million.


LtoR Lauren Jacobs, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Sarah Kate Howarth
LtoR Jayne McKenna, Emily Joyce, Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn
LtoR Lauren Jacobs, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Sarah Kate Howarth
LtoR Jayne McKenna, Emily Joyce, Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn
Back LtoR Nick Carsberg, Sario Solomon, Yazdan Qafouri; Front LtoR Curtis T Johns, Jayne McKenna, Emily Joyce, Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, AJ Bentley
Katy Clayton, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Faye Christall, Rachelle Diedericks, AJ Bentley, Sario Solomon, Sarah Kate Howarth, Yazadan Qafouri, Lauren Jacobs
LtoR Curtis T Johns, Nick Carsberg, AJ Bentley, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon
LtoR Lauren Jacobs, Katy Clayton, Rachelle Diedericks, Faye Christall, Sarah Kate Howarth



Joining the previously announced AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, collectively known as 5 to 5, winners of BBC’s Let It Shine, who will play The Band, Rachel Lumberg as Rachel and Faye Christall as Young Rachel, will be Emily Joyce as Heather, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, Katy Clayton as Young Heather, Sarah Kate Howarth as Young Claire, Lauren Jacobs as Young Zoe, Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie, Martin Miller as Jeff and Andy Williams as Dave.

AJ Bentley studied dance before taking part in Let It Shine. Nick Carsberg was a classic car restorer before taking part in Let It Shine. Curtis T Johns has been a songwriter for the last eight years, writing for artists such as Matt Cardle and Ray Quinn. He also owns and runs a rugby club in his home city of Leeds. Yazdan Qafouri is originally from Iran, but was raised in the North East of England. Sario Solomon made his professional debut at the age of 11 in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Rachel Lumberg’s most recent tours include This Is My Family, The Full Monty, Dandy Dick and Calendar Girls. Faye Christall’s theatre credits include Broken Biscuits (Paines Plough), Gone Viral (St James Theatre) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and she is part of the Cirque Du Soleil Company.

Emily Joyce’s television credits include series regulars Jill in My Almost Famous Family, Sarah Fletcher in Mutual Friends and Janet Dawkins in My Hero. Her most recent theatre includes Judy in the West End production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Alison Fitzjohn has just finished as assistant director and performer in David Walliams’s tour of Gangsta Granny. She also played The Queen of Hearts/Duchess in the Olivier-nominated immersive production of Alice’s Adventures Underground by Les Enfants Terribles. Over the past 12 years, Alison has performed all over the world in Horrible Histories, Barmy Britain and Horrible Science. Jayne McKenna’s recent theatre credits include Rose Naracott in War Horse in the West End, Sylvia in This Happy Breed for the Peter Hall Company, Lily Gibb in Men Should Weep at the National and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at the Northcott Theatre. She also appeared in the film version of the National Theatre’s production of London Road as Imelda.

Katy Clayton made her first TV appearance at the age of six on Coronation Street. She appeared in various TV shows such as Casualty, Shameless and Waterloo Road and played series regular Samantha Booth in Where the Heart Is for four years. Sarah Kate Howarth’s theatre credits include Copycat (Southwark Playhouse), Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (New Wimbledon Theatre) and Spring Awakening (Edinburgh Fringe). Lauren Jacobs and Rachelle Diedericks will be making their professional debuts in THE BAND.

Martin Miller’s recent theatre includes Antonio in The Revenger’s Tragedy and Keith Haines in Darkness, both for Nottingham Playhouse, two UK tours of The Full Monty as Dave, and Alfred Hitchcock in The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock (Leicester Curve, UK Tour and Brits Off Broadway). Andy Williams’s recent theatre credits include Arnold in Hir (Bush Theatre), Giles/Captain in Emma Rice’s production of Rebecca (Plymouth Theatre Royal/Tour), The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre), Ted Narracot in War Horse (New London Theatre) and Albert/Fred/Stephen in Kneehigh Theatre’s Brief Encounter.



For further show information and full tour details please visit: