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Visit a Greek taverna and party the night away at the 02.
Mamma Mia! is the iconic ABBA song, that became a musical, that became a film, that became a second film, and has now become an immersive event that you can really bring it all up close and personal. Mamma Mia! The Party at the O2 is an event that all ABBA lovers will rave about for years to come.
Mamma Mia! The Party has been created by ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and is set in a Greek taverna on the island of Skopelos, meticulously built within the O2 in London. It is here that Nikos and his wife run Nikos Taverna, where the audience wine and dine, and watch the drama, love story and comedy unfold. It is a perfect setting to showcase over 35 great ABBA songs in an immersive and entertaining way with a large cast of amazing talent. The story has been adapted for a UK audience by Sandi Toksvig, without doubt, one of the most humorous and witty people on the planet.
But this is not a copy of the Mamma Mia! play or movie. It is a completely new story that works perfectly with the Mamma Mia! magic and both entertains and fulfils the desires and dreams of the audience with over 5 hours of continuous fun.
The doors to Nikos Taverna at the O2 open at 6.30 pm and there is always a queue of excited people waiting to get in. As with any Greek taverna, there are no tickets; your name is on the door, so as you enter you are greeted with a welcome drink and shown to your table. From the moment you pass through the door, you could be on the island of Skopelos itself. Huge attention to detail has gone into converting this space to the fantasy world of Nikos Taverna, from the stone patterned floors, Greek writing on everything, general signage and of course the staff and actors. Even the lighting resembled the Greek sun going down over the sea.
Entering the taverna really does have that WOW! Factor, with every guest stopping in awe as they enter the room. It can only be compared to actually being on the film set of Mamma Mia! the movie itself.
Nikos Taverna at Mamma Mia! The Party can seat 500 guests, but because of the multi-level setup, it doesn’t feel crowded, and still leaves space for the amazing performances. Tables can seat between 2 and 8 people, and there was a good mix between couples and larger groups at the event. With everyone having an interest in ABBAin common, a simple smile and hello gets everyone talking around a table.
As you get seated, you are served the first of a four-course meal totally Mediterranean meal. It starts with a simple mezze and Greek salad with olives and gets everyone on the table in a friendly mood, perfect for chatting to others if you are in a mixed group.
The food is crisp and fresh, and completely typical of a real Greek island experience, replicating the full Mediterranean experience. For meat-eaters, the beef and lamb is succulent and plentiful, with lots of flavour to match the dips and flatbreads. Vegetarians are well served with a large dish of Mousaka which goes so well with all the fresh vegetables and tomatoes. All the produce is locally sourced and delivered fresh for each evening so you can expect the best.
Many of the couples attending had one partner who wasn’t as ABBA infatuated as the other, but the nature of the show, with the food, wine and immersive acting and singing, meant that it was always an enjoyable experience. The performance goes on around you, and you are there to watch, like a diner in a restaurant. Nobody is made to stand up and sing or join in, so you really don’t need to worry about that.
The dress code is “normal clothing” as if you were going out for a Mediterranean meal (OK, maybe a bit thicker clothing for a British winter) The immersive Mamma Mia! The Party ABBA experience is about matching the music to a romantic story in a Greek Taverna, with the guests watching the spectacle unfolding amongst them. So fancy dress isn’t expected and would look out of place.
The only extra you need to pay for on the night is for drinks, although every guest gets a welcome drink to start off with. The wine and cocktail list is as extensive as you would get in a real Greek bar, with real Greek wine available alongside the normal world wines. Table service is always on hand to take orders and deliver drinks, with your bill delivered at the end of the evening, as you would expect in any regular taverna.
As the show comes to an end, the front space of Nikos Taverna is converted into a disco and stage, allowing people to get up and disco the remainder of the evening away to the sounds of ABBA. As people trickle out the doors to go home, the overall feeling is a mix of euphoria and wellbeing, the enjoyment of such an immersive event being hard to convey in words.
As I walked out the O2 with my ABBA loving date I asked her if she had had a good time. “Yes!” she said instantly, “can we go again?”
Mamma Mia! The Party is now booking for the event at the O2 until February 2021. Tickets include a full 4-course meal, show and disco over a period of 5 hours, making this a totally unique experience.
For more light-hearted theatricals in London at the moment we recommend Upstart Crow, Ben Elton’s Shakespearian romp at the Gielgud Theatre, London, West End