City actor Stephen Fletcher’s Life in Theatre Productions has had a good first year, and rounds off 2012 with its biggest show to date, the irrepressibly feelgood Mam! I’m ‘Ere!.
Reversing the plot of the Abba-themed musical from which it cheekily steals its name, it follows Sally (Rachel Rae) as she looks for her birth mother in the days before her wedding. She tricks the three likeliest candidates (Eithne Browne, Keddy Sutton and Helen Carter) to her Welsh holiday camp (Disco Haven Holidays, no less), and chaos ensues.
What will her dad, Dave (Andrew Schofield), do when he finds out what’s going on? Will fiancée Si (Stephen Fletcher) forgive her fibs? And what do Alan Stocks and Paul Duckworth look like dressed as sexy ladies? You’ll have to come along to find that out.
The story is dotted with some disco classics too, that nicely weave in and out of the drama as required, sometimes a full on musical number, others retreating to the background to add a bit of atmosphere. With live band on stage throughout, thanks to MD Simeon Scheuber it wasn’t a race to shoehorn in as many tacky hits as possible, but actually sounded like a much more thoughtful selection than shows of this type usually bother with.
It’s not the most cerebrally challenging of plots, this is true. In fact, you can probably guess the ending already. So obviously, the challenge for the cast was to make Mam! I’m ‘Ere as entertaining as possible – which is the kind of thing our likeable eight-strong cast can do in their sleep anyway. With comic timing as good as their voices, they could hardly go wrong.
All involved have worked together on many occasions, and that chemistry works hugely in the show’s favour. Watching Schofield, Duckworth and Stocks muck about is just brilliant fun; and the numbers where Browne, Sutton and Carter all sing together really shine. Stocks, who is well known for his recurring role as Father O’Flaherty in the Royal Court’s Christmas shows, even had a chance to get back in a cassock, which was a nice touch.
It’s also nice to see Rae and Fletcher paired up as a Christmas couple again, as they have been at the Royal Court for the last few years. They always look good together – and sound better.
Ultimately, Mam! was a show that seemed to quite genuinely get the audience up and dancing at the end of their own accord. A little bit panto, a big bit disco and with plenty of daft comedy and good tunes, it is a warm-hearted, fun and completely uncynical production that succeeds in its goal of spreading (not entirely seasonal) cheer and leaves you with a big smile on your face. With a 9.30pm finish too, it’s a great option for audiences of all ages, from families to those who still want a Christmas night out afterwards. Give it a whirl.
Read more about the show from actor, director and writer Stephen Fletcher here.