Showstopper Claire is a winner taking it all ; With a host of Abba hits, it's no wonder Mamma Mia! is a hit show. And Calverton actress Claire Poyzer has just joined the West End cast. Joanna Hunt reports
MAMMA Mia! recently had the biggest cast shake-up since it first opened in the West End more than a decade ago - and Notts actress Claire Poyzer is among the new stars of the revised show.
The 39-year-old, who grew up in Calverton, is having the time of her life in the show, which is packed with Abba songs.
To be able to stand on that stage and sing The Winner Takes It All... it doesn't really get much better than that, says Claire, who plays the role of Donna Sheridan (played by Meryl Streep in the film).
The character is the mum of Sophie, who invites her mum's past lovers to the wedding in order to find her father.
I love the journey from when Donna is living with her daughter on the island to when the men arrive, Claire says. The part encompasses everything as a singer and an actor.
It's a huge challenge and very demanding.
You have to draw on your emotion every night to sing Slipping Through My Fingers with tears flowing, it's exhausting, she laughs.
I come off stage and think 'wow!' I still pinch myself sometimes. I can't quite believe it. I'm a girl from Calverton who stands on a West End stage every night. I find it astonishing that I've managed to achieve my dream. Those dreams started at school, where she admits: All I did was dream about being on the stage.
Claire learned her craft at a dance school in Arnold from the age of five to 16 - when she went to the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts in Kent.
Since then she's appeared in Fame and played Tanya the international tour of Mamma Mia! in which sister Sara Poyzer, a former EastEnders actress, is currently appearing.
Says Claire: Tanya was such a great role to play because it had the comedy element and she's very flamboyant. But playing the role of Donna, from an artistic point of view, is so rewarding and satisfying. The West End production has now been seen by more than a tenth of the entire UK population.
It is one of only five musicals to run for more than ten years, both on Broadway and in the West End, and in 2011 it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Chinese in the People's Republic of China.
I think it is so successful because it appeals to everybody, says Claire.
My three-year-old daughter has seen the show and she's a real fidget box but she didn't move once. She watched the whole thing.
Then you look beside you and there will be a 93-year-old clapping along as well.
Abba were so gifted. The songs are brilliant - everyone knows them and connects with them.
Around 75 per cent of the Mamma Mia! cast changed this summer, with Claire beginning her role this week.
I absolutely love it, she says. Mamma Mia! runs at the Novello Theatre in London's West End until April 5. For more details, go to mamma-mia.com.
'You have to draw on your emotion every night to sing Slipping Through My Fingers with tears flowingClaire Poyzer
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