A lead actress at the all singing, all dancing, dining experience Mamma Mia! The Party has shared what it is like to be part of such a “spectacular piece of theatre”.
The show at the O2 Arena in Greenwich is four hours long but includes breaks for diners to enjoy their food which is a traditional four-course Greek meal.
However, the story performed at “the party” is different to the beloved tale we know featuring mother and daughter duo Donna and Sophie – but instead follows Nikos, Kate, Adam, and Konstantina as they navigate family life in the taverna.
Lorraine Chappell, 47, who plays the character Kate said that “trying to explain the performance to just doesn’t do it justice”.
Kate is the wife of the restaurant’s owner Nikos and she was also a costume designer for the film Mamma Mia!, linking the two stories together.
She is in Skopelos with her nephew, Adam, who falls in love with Nikos’ daughter, Konstantina, causing all kinds of family drama and tension which develops throughout the show.
Lorraine told Newsquest south London: “It’s production values, the actors. the quality of musicians, the singers and the costumes – It’s just a really spectacular piece of theatre.
“People are always saying to me ‘I didn’t think it would be like this. I never expected it to be this good. This is amazing. It’s the best.’ “And I’m not just saying it cause I’m in it, I genuinely get to see people’s reactions to how wonderful their evening has been.
“You walk in and instantly you are transported somewhere else.
“The smells, the warmth, the Greek music – You have to gear up for a really nice meal and then be prepared to enjoy and have the time of your life.
“There are some things in life you just have to experience and it’s one of them – everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”
Lorraine has played the role of Kate since June 2021 and would sum her character up as “someone that doesn’t take any nonsense but also likes to have a lot of fun”.
She said that she had the creative freedom to “make Kate her own” as there was no set description of what she was like as a character and Lorraine would also adapt with the cast.
She explained: “My performance as Kate has completely changed as I’ve got a new husband (Nikos’ role has been taken over by Javier Rasero).
“So, my old husband from the last company, the way he played his role very differently to my new husband.”
Lorraine is no stranger to the theatre scene and has featured in many productions such Mamma Mia!, Cats!, Phantom of the Opera, Gone with the Wind and Peter Pan – many of which were hosted in the West End.
She trained at The Arts Educational School and The Royal Ballet School – and recalls appearing in Newsquest’s Richmond and Twickenham Times appealing for funds to attend the ballet school.
Lorraine explained: “When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I was in an article in the Richmond and Twickenham Times about how I wanted to be a performer and I was trying to fund money to go to Royal Ballet summer school.
“I remember the photographer coming round and I had to sniff a flower in my back garden in my ballet outfit – it was very funny, but people did contribute, and I did end up going to the Royal Ballet Summer School.”
Lorraine now runs a children’s theatre club, after-school classes and a lady’s choir in her hometown of Moseley in Surrey – she is known locally as “singing Lorraine”.
She explained that Mamma Mia! The Party is quite unlike anything she has ever done before due to the spontaneous nature of the acting – but it did remind her of a few of her shifts where she performed as a “singing waiter”.
Lorraine said: “Basically what it was – you would try to blend in with the staff, make up a story about how it was your last day or something, before breaking into song and getting everyone up dancing.
“So, I have been used to interacting in that sort of environment, but not on such a grand scale.
“It is a very different concept for actors to suddenly be spoken to by somebody in the audience or having to come up with something that’s maybe not in the script.
“It’s definitely fun. I do think it’s the way forward for theatre – I think people like the whole concept combining their evening experience.
“I think people like the immersion and getting to experience what it’s like to be part of it.”
Mamma Mia! The Party features all the ABBA favourites and when Newsquest asked Lorraine what her favourite song was in the show, she chose some more niche answers.
“I really like one of the songs which is called “Head over heels“ and another one of my favourite songs happens at the very end,” she said.
“It’s called Tiger and the girl, Constantine, her voice is just unreal – it is amazing.
“ABBA is such a global thing – I think it just it’s sort of transcends and goes across every medium so that everyone has some connection.
“Whether it’s Mamma Mia, the film or the show, or if you just the love the music – ABBA is timeless really.”
There is one show a day on Wednesday Thursday and Friday at 6.30pm and then two sessions on a Saturday and Sunday at 12pm and 6.30pm.
To find out more and book tickets for Mamma Mia! The Party – click here.
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