As the sun rises on another day on a Greek paradise island, a 20-year-old bride to be posts three letters she hopes will give her the answer to her life-long question: who is my father?

Sophie – soon to marry City boy-turned sun seeker Sky at her mother’s island hotel – has never been sure who her dad is.

And, truth be told, mum Donna isn’t sure either. Sophie could be the progeny of three love affairs 21 years earlier.

The daughter finds her mother’s diary, detailing the hook-ups with Sam, Harry and Bill. Convinced she will recognise her father when she sees him, Sophie invites all three to her wedding – in the hope that the dad she has never known will walk her down the aisle.

So starts Mamma Mia! the mega-hit musical based on the songs of 70s Swedish pop stars ABBA - and the latest show to come to Oxford’s New Theatre, playing until the end of the year and a Christmas crowd winner guaranteed to take it all.

The stage musical and its Hollywood spin-offs have so far grossed an reported $4bn at the box office, been enjoyed by millions upon millions of people worldwide – and spawned thousands of unkind jokes about Pierce Brosnan’s singing.

From start to sequinned-studded finish it is unabashedly camp – about as camp as could be expected from a show based around music written by a four-piece that performed in body-hugging leotards and glittery platform heels.

The tunes are woven into the narrative of the show – or, more accurately, spoken dialogue crowbarred in around the music.

Oxford Mail: Jena Pandya as Sophie and Sara Poyzer as her mum Donna on stage in Mamma MiaJena Pandya as Sophie and Sara Poyzer as her mum Donna on stage in Mamma Mia (Image: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)

‘Honey, Honey’ sees Sophie reading from mum Donna’s frothy diary, telling of the summer of love that resulted in the conception of her only daughter. In ‘Our Last Summer’, Donna and former flame and now City Banker Harry remember a youthful romance of Parisian picnics.

Ironically, given that ABBA has steadfastly represented everything 1970s, Mamma Mia! is a musical about transformation.

Sophie wants what her mother has always turned her back on: a white wedding, a husband, a family. Rock chick, single mum and business owner, Donna is desperately trying to ignore her past as she struggles to keep her island hotel together.

Without spoiling the plot, by the time the curtain goes down their roles are all but reversed and it is Sophie who walks off into the moonlight to begin a new adventure.

We see the show on its opening night at the New Theatre. There are some slight teething issues – the equalizer on the speakers seem to be pumping through too much treble, leading to piercing high notes. The performance has to be paused for some 10 minutes after what seems to be a medical emergency in the balcony.

Jena Pandya is doe-eyed and dolce-voiced as Sophie. Sara Poyzer looks every inch the former pop idol as Donna. Love interest Sam is a little young to my eye and his Scottish singing voice slightly thin.

The stand-out stars are the supporting cast. Donna’s friends – and her former backing singers in Donna and the Dynamos – Rosie (Nicky Swift) and Tanya (Helen Anker) are pitch perfect and act out their role as a comedic Greek chorus with physical flair, where even a wink or a heel flick drips with slapstick humour.

Oxford Mail:

James Willoughby-Moore is the show stealer as Pepper, a member of Donna’s hotel staff and one of raucous rogues organising Sky’s stag do. High-kicking, break-dancing, diminutive dancer shines in ‘Does Your Mother Know’, trying to convince older divorcee Tanya to take him to bed.

The show ends with all the cast on stage, whirling and popping to an ABBA medley. The whole audience is on its feet, sweeping arms from side-to-side. As we leave, a woman sitting next to us in the stalls beams that this performance has been better than one she saw in London.

Mamma Mia! is at the New Theatre until December 31. For tickets, visit: