REVIEW: Mamma Mia!, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until October 8.

Sara Poyzer (Donna Sheridan) and Lucy May Barker (Sophie) in MAMMA MIA! UK Tour 2016 - 2017
Sara Poyzer (Donna Sheridan) and Lucy May Barker (Sophie) in MAMMA MIA! UK Tour 2016 - 2017

The regulars will know exactly what they’re in for; for the rest of us, it’s the show that surpasses all expectations, a brilliant night of theatre which tugs at the heart and lifts it up, all in one slickly-choreographed move.

And the strange, strange thing is that it’s comfortably better than the film.

Turn up expecting a poor cousin of the movie, and you’ll be deliciously disappointed: this is the version which comes with the subtlety.

The film’s big names and overly beautiful settings – when you contrast them with the stage show – start to seem like distractions. The great virtue of the theatre version is its simplicity – a simplicity which allows genuine emotion to come through and somehow makes you focus more on the terrific Abba songs which are the show’s backbone.

The joy of the stage musical is that you seem to listen more to the lyrics, and what lyrics they are, beautiful and so poignant in their tale of a young girl growing up, growing away and also growing closer.

Sara Poyzer is brilliant as Donna Sheridan, really packing an emotional punch; Lucy May Barker is no less impressive as Sophie, a girl who simply wants to know who she is as she approaches womanhood.

But it’s very much an ensemble piece, a superbly-talented cast working wonderfully well together, great choreography and excellent musicianship doing the rest in a show that sends you home on the most glorious high.

Phil Hewitt

Don't miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you'll be amongst the first to know what's going on.

1) Make our website your homepage

2) Like our Facebook page

3) Follow us on Twitter

4) Register with us by clicking on 'sign in' (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don't miss out!

Always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.