Winter is here, the temperature outside is freezing and the credit crunch is now a recession. 2008 will be remembered for many negative reasons but there is one bright spot that has lifted the spirits and set people talking, smiling and singing. The screen version of the original London stage show, Mamma Mia was released and rewrote all the box office predictions and records. It seems that everyone is ready for an uplifting ‘feel good’ couple of hours when the sky and the sea are turquoise blue, the food is delicious, the costumes are fabulous, the location beautiful and characters of all ages can discover music, dancing and romance.

The music features most of the famous songs by Abba, the ever popular superband from the 1970s. There are a clutch of famous and well respected actors vying for the attention of the audience, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, all of whom sparkle on screen and sing very well (apart from the lovely Pierce, who just sparkles and doesn’t sing so well)!

The cinemas have been packing them in week after week throughout the summer and have relaunched with singalong versions. And on the 24th of November the DVD is released. What a fantastic opportunity for a girls night! Be the first to buy the film and show it on as large a screen as you can get your hands on with as good a sound system as possible. Check that you are not breaching any licences by showing it to a large group, perhaps you shouldn’t charge an entrance fee, even better for people whose finances are rocky. Host a free night with nibbles and fruit cocktails that reflect the summer Mediterranean theme. Maybe you can encourage a fancy dress competition.

We are holding a singalong DVD night on Saturday the 29th of November in our church youth lounge. The Dvd comes with karaoke type captions option that can pop up under the songs. There has been a very positive response to our publicity with our friends really keen to come, either because they missed it in the cinema and heard about it, or because they had watched it before and were keen to singalong this time.

As with any film you want to know it well before you show it to your audience, this film is a PG and some of the language and dancing may be off putting for some viewers and young children. I took my family and my 8 year old daughter declared that she loved the songs and music but that she didn’t understand all the jokes and really wanted to go again. As we drove away from the cinema that July night we sang as a family all the way home. Then I sat down and preordered the DVD, the countdown to its arrival through my letterbox is nearly over…My Dancing Queen days are about to begin again and this time I’m inviting all my friends.

Updated postscript added on Monday 1st December –

Well, we did it! Sixty women came, ready to sing, some in ridiculous costumes. Forty older children and teenagers arrived too so we opened up a second, pop-corn room and played two copies of the Dvd simultaneously. We had a ‘best costume’ show on stage and handed out prizes then we switched on the films with the singalong optional karaoke words below.
There was a lot of laughter and most people sang loudly. A few tears were shed by those struggling with difficult relationships and many tears were shed by mothers of all ages when Meryl Streep sang of her daughter’s life ‘slipping through her fingers’.
The teenagers led a conga through our midst, leading us all to get up and dance near the end. Then we thanked everyone and invited them all to our Christmas services with a hand out.
After they had left, we danced as we hoovered up the popcorn and sang as we finished off the cocktails. If only evangelism was always this much fun!

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