SOOTHING the woes of entertainment-starved and culturally deprived Lahoris is the most recent theatrical production in town, Mamma Mia. Choreographed and produced by Karachis Nida Butt, this is a musical that will take us (and most arguably our parents) back to the time when ABBAs soulful melodies were a tonic to the dark mood. The Alhamra theatre on the Mall opened its doors to packed crowds, and despite the perilous security situation in the country; Lahoris have once again proven themselves resilient. One would think that attendance would be lower than observed with a ticket at 1000 rupees each, a high sum for the majority of Lahori theatre-goers. However, money was seen to be no object, as families thronged the theatre throughout the duration of the shows performance in the city. As Nida Butt urged during the curtain call, there were no free passes, and the proceeds from tickets purchased went to a good cause, that is, DIL (Developments in Literacy) organization. The somewhat taboo subject of a mother with no idea of her daughters fathers identity did not prevent families from enjoying the glittery show and Mamma Mia was well enjoyed. The cast included Kiran Chaudhry as Donna, Zashanne Malik as Sophie, her daughter and Umair Rana as Sam, one of the potential dads. The rest of the cast includes Shehzad Butt as Skye, Sophies fiancT; Sanam Saeed plays Rosie and Zoe Viccaji plays Tanya. Akbar Merchant and Osman Mumtaz play potential dads Harry Bright and the Australian Bill. Inevitably, the audience will draw comparisons to the film version, starring Pierce Brosnan as Sam and Meryl Streep as Donna. Omair Rana is impressive in his sincerity and has a decent singing voice. Kiran Chaudhry is the star of the show, with the best vocals. Her acting was convincing and her character likeable. Chaudhry displayed her best with her take on The Winner Takes it All, receiving enthusiastic applause. Zashanne Malik as Sophie certainly looked the part, but her nervous giggles when confronted with three dads were unnatural. Her performance was mostly solid, her voice innocent and lilting, though at times quite pitchy (but one could attribute that to nerves). Sanam Saeed as Rosie was good, though I cant help but draw a parallel to her performance in Nida Butts Chicago, she was definitely more in her element among the wigs and costumes of the 1920s. Tanya was a delight, bringing the vital comic relief to the show, along with Harry and Bill. Osmans Australian accent was very accurate at times, and Akbars role as a British banker was also authentic, his accent more than once reminiscent of the London lingo. The highlight of the show was undoubtedly the intermittent dialogues and dancing to Voulez Vous, where each of the dads professed their intentions to walk Sophie down the aisle. The sparkly outfits and fast paced routine were very enjoyable; the dancers were mostly in sync and the singing was live, adding more flavour to the show. The strengths of the show were no doubt the live band at the side of the stage, lending a very realistic feel to the whole musical. Mamma Mia has been reenacted one too many times for it to be called original, and so the rarely performed Chicago was more laudable in the respect that it was unique and unknown to the majority here. Nevertheless, Nida Butt put up a good show, and should be commended along with her cast, old and young, who put their talents to use in order to transport us from our usual mundane, monotonous lives to the Greek island of Kalokairi and its shiny white villas. With a total of 22 live songs and flamboyant dances, it was a good outing. The audience tolerated the Lahori heat for about half an hour when the merciless but ever regular load shedding kicked in (the generator kept only the stage lights running and not the ACs). The heat did not daunt either cast or audience, and in the spirit of good theatre; the show must go on, ladies and gentlemen.