Shobna Gulati plays Tanya (the rich, feisty friend that has three divorces under her belt) in the Mamma Mia stage production. We spoke to the UK actress to find out more about her love affair with ABBA and the musical.
Why do you think ABBA’s music has stayed in the hearts of people, young and old, all across the world, for so long?
It’s great music to start with. The lyrics are brilliant. Each song has its own story. The 22 songs in Mamma Mia move our story along in a universal way.
What’s your favourite ABBA song and why?
It’s really hard to say. I quite like them all! Each one evokes a feeling – I was just a young teen listening to ABBA’s music so there’s a lot of nostalgia in the songs for me. It’s something so special.
The love for ABBA is a huge part of the Mamma Mia‘s success, but what are the other ingredients that keep theatre-goers filling the seats?
Each song forces the story along further. The story and the songs are interwoven. Plus, there are some great comedy moments. In my opinion, these kind of stories for women of a certain age are very prevalent – what changes in life in the case of a woman going from a girl to adulthood is shown in the story of these three friends. It’s quite a generational story.
Tanya is playful, funny and even feisty at times! What do you like best about her?
I’m quite a tomboy in real life so I really enjoy playing Tanya. She uses her mind to get what she wants and because she understands her femininity she is still getting her way. She’s a feminist – an incredible woman.
We’re sure there’s never a dull moment on the stage. What’s your fondest memory so far?
So far, so good! It’s a musical I’ve always wanted to do. It happened so fast. It’s so inspiring because it’s so cross-generational. It’s a special opportunity to get to show the audience a good time.
Sum up the Mamma Mia experience in one phrase
Mamma Mia hits South Africa at Montecasino from 24 March to 26 April.
Words: Cassidy Emmanuel and Shobna Gulati