Let It Shine and The Band star AJ Bentley is starring in a show which he believes guarantees a night of escapism to get away from all the bad news in the world.
The Hythe performer, who attended Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, after starting dance classes at the age of three, is starring as Adam in Mamma Mia! The Party, which is at the O2 in London until next year.
The show, which is an immersive theatrical and dining experience that puts guests at the centre of the party, has had its run extended due to popular demand.
AJ, who broke his hand on his first night in the show, said: "With all the bad things that are going on in the world right now, we can guarantee an evening of escapism, joy and entertainment… oh and ouzo."
"On our very first show in front of an audience, I slipped and broke my hand. Not the best start, but it was operated on, fixed, and now I’m back fighting fit."
Created by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, the show features a four-course Mediterranean feast and an ABBA disco, set in a taverna on the island of Skopelos, where most exteriors of the first Mamma Mia! film were shot.
Nikos and his wife Kate run an exotic restaurant together with their family and friends. Told through dialogue and ABBA songs, the story unfolds during the evening, taking place around the guests as they sit at their tables enjoying a gourmet Greek meal, ending with the main floor being transformed into a 1970s disco.
AJ, who was successful in Let it Shine in 2017, and toured with Gary Barlow's The Band, said: "I’s definitely been an exciting few years full of unforgettable experiences. It’s been a great start to my career as an actor and I feel very fortunate to have had these opportunities and to have worked with some amazing people. I never really knew what it would be like to be honest. I knew that I loved to perform and I never really saw myself doing anything else. To call this ‘my job’ is a pretty great feeling and it’s important to remind myself how fortunate I am to be working in this industry - may that good fortune continue,
onwards and upwards."
AJ plays cheeky barman Adam, who has fallen in love with the owner’s daughter Konstantina. He gets to sing many of the ABBA hits throughout the night, such as Take a Chance On Me, Honey Honey, Why Did It Have To Be Me? and Kisses Of Fire, to name just a few.
He admits, if pushed to choose some ABBA favourites, they would be When I Kissed The Teacher and Angel Eyes, both of which feature in the show, and the films.
Mamma Mia! The Party has music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (some songs with Stig Anderson), and a story by Calle Norlén, Roine Söderlundh and Björn Ulvaeus, adapted for the UK by writer, comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig.
The London version is co-directed and choreographed by Stacey Haynes and Roine Söderlundh, with set designed by Bengt Fröderberg, lighting designed by Patrick Woodroffe, and produced by Björn Ulvaeus and Ingrid Sutej for MM! The Party Ltd.
Its run at the O2 has been extended to March 28, 2021. To book, go to mammamiatheparty.co.uk or call 0844 844 9545.