From Sweden To Kuala Lumpur

Nearly 200 costumes and over 250 pairs of shoes will be worn by the cast of Mamma Mia! during their maiden performance in Malaysia over the Christmas and New Year festive season.
The elaborate costumes and vast assortment of shoes – including possibly Jimmy Choo heels- underscore the importance of every element of the “World’s No 1 Musical” that is set to sweep Malaysians off their feet.
“The main thing is still the music – everybody knows ABBA; their tunes are so upbeat, energetic and cheery that you get that great feeling just hearing it. We’ll leave no stone unturned in putting up the best show yet for our Malaysian fans,” said Steven Paling, resident director and artistic co-ordinator of London West End’s hottest-selling stage show.
He admitted that it would be a massive task to fly over 60 tonnes of scenery, rigging, lighting and sound equipment, costumes and props from their last show in Sweden to Kuala Lumpur.
For instance, there will be nearly 200 sets of costumes and the cast will be shod in more than 250 pairs of hand-stitched shoes, some costing more than £2,000 (RM13,000).
“Who knows, there might even be a pair of Jimmy Choo heels as there are lots of different brands,” he said, adding that most of the cast, especially the chorus members who play various roles, will wear up to six pairs of shoes to go with the different costumes and scenes.
There are some scenes featuring costumes of the Swedish pop group back in the 1970s, taking the audience on a trip down memory lane.
Paling said the cast often tailored their impromptu humour and dance moves to suit the local fans and it will be no different in Malaysia.
Nick Finlow, the show’s associate musical supervisor, said his greatest challenge was in teaching the cast to sing pop songs as many of them haven’t sung such tunes before.
“They are either used to singing in traditional musicals or not singing anything at all,” said Finlow, who is involved in casting, auditions and rehearsals for the shows. While we don’t teach them to sing like ABBA, we lean towards the pop quartet’s singing style,” he said.
Mamma Mia! will be staged at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur from Dec 17 to Jan 1.

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