Step two, three, four, arms out, rock those hips, feel happy, look sad, memorise the lyrics, sing in tune …. and so the instructions went on. We giggled, we concentrated and we sang while our feet chose their own direction but we all felt like Abba contestants.
I was enjoying one of the new immersive theatre experiences that are now available. The title and theme I chose was “Be A West End Star for a Day”. It started with a 90-minute workshop in London’s Pineapple studios for our task of learning the moves, actions and lyrics to Mamma Mia. I joined a group of men and women of varying ages. Nerves, apprehension and self -consciousness soon dissipated as our two professional coaches eased us all into a song and dance sequence. With concentration and patience, along with a few wrong turns and arms crossed in the wrong direction, we did it!
Proud and glowing, we then walked around the corner to the Greek restaurant for a well-earned and celebratory pre-theatre dinner, taverna style, where we chatted about our new moves with our new friends. The table was laden with traditional favourites – vine leaves, moussaka and meat balls, grilled aubergines laced with tomatoes, feta cheese and of course fresh Greek salad, plenty of warm pitta bread and dips and olives and awash with house wine.
Fed and watered, it was a short walk to the Novella Theatre on the Strand. Minutes later we were sitting watching Mamma Mia, the Musical live, hearing the notes we had learned, in harmony and witnessing the steps we knew, but in the right sequence and in the right attire. There were the tassels and frills, the shimmery bellbottoms, white knee-high boots and floppy hats. Exhilarating and enthralling, the show captivated us all with its colour, vitality and exuberance. Super Trouper, Dancing Queen, Money Money, Money, Thank You For The Music were just some of the songs attracting an enthusiastic audience chorus while for the few of us Mamma Mia was the song we knew so well. We felt closer to the story, shed tears of laughter, tears of sadness. We shared the fun, the music and the energy. And As the curtain closed, I left with the songs still playing in my mind, the smile set on my face and I was in time with my steps, two, three, four. And I did indeed feel like a West End Star.
So, if you are looking for that feelgood factor, a boost to wellbeing, then look no further than the theatre as a remedy. Why not Immerse yourself in that feel-good factor, seize the moment, be free. Who cares if your foot steps in the wrong direction, you can giggle your way through it. Imagine is a UK-based leisure experience operator offering exclusive, culturally immersive experience-led tour products for small groups. It doesn’t stop with Mamma Mia. Check out the website for other creative cultural adventures, from Bond to Banksy, Guards, Ghuouls, and Ghosts. There’s more on the horizon. https://www.imaginexperiences.com/
The Mamma Mia Success Story
Since premiering in London’s West-End back in 1999, this smash-hit musical has been seen live on stage by over 65 million people across the world. MAMMA MIA! has been seen in 50 productions in 16 different languages and even became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China in 2011. It has been turned into two record-breaking movies – MAMMA MIA! The Movie and MAMMA MIA! Here We Go Again.
MAMMA MIA! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004, and then to the Novello Theatre in 2012. The London production of MAMMA MIA! has been seen by over 9 million people, played over 8,500 performances and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.
The Novella Theatre and its history of names.
This theatre was built as one of a pair with the Aldwych Theatre on either side of The Waldorf Hilton, London. It was opened by The Shubert Organization as the Waldorf Theatre on 22 May 1905, and was renamed the Strand Theatre, in 1909. It was again renamed as the Whitney Theatre in 1911, before again becoming the Strand Theatre in 1913. In 2005, the theatre was renamed by its owners (Delfont Mackintosh Theatres) the Novello Theatre in honour of Ivor Novello, who lived in a flat above the theatre from 1913 to 1951.
Fresh vegetables, fish, olive oil, wine, meat, and grains play a significant role in Greek dishes, as well as cheese, bread, olives, herbs, and yogurt. A popular dish is moussaka made of spiced meat (beef or lamb) cooked in tomato sauce and then layered with fried eggplant and béchamel sauce. Soutzoukakia is a dish of sausages made from a mixture of ground pork and beef, cumin and olive oil which are cooked in a red wine sauce. Papoutsakia is stuffed eggplants that are first baked until soft and then filled with a tomato-based meat sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheese and then baked. It’s labelled papoutsakia (little shoes) because its shape resembles little shoes! A key part of a Greek meal are the classic dips such as tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic), melitzanosalata (aubergine), fava (creamy split pea purée) and taramasalata (fish roe dip). Greek cuisine is also master of charcoal-grilled and spit-roasted meats. Souvlaki, chunks of skewered pork, is still Greece’s favourite fast food, served on chopped tomatoes and onions in pitta bread with lashings of tzatziki. Greek cuisine has been influenced by Middle Eastern, Italian, and Ottoman cultures.
Jane Wilson is editor of www.thewellnesstraveller.co.uk