"Life is short, the world is wide. I want to make some memories." -- Donna Sheridan, Mamma Mia!
And truly, I did make some fantastic memories this past September. To celebrate Mamma Mia’s 10th anniversary and the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Blu-ray and DVD release (Oct. 23), I was invited to visit Greece to check out some of the stunning filming locations from the original movie. The sequel brings together the original cast: Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters and Meryl Streep, as well as new cast members Cher, Andy Garcia and Lily James.
A select group of press from the U.S., U.K., Italy, Germany and Canada traveled to Skiathos Island and then took a water taxi to Skopelos Island. Overlooking the sapphire waters surrounding this lush island was Adrina Beach Hotel, which became our home for the next few days.
Skopelos Island is one of the three islands that make up the Sporades, a group of four Greek islands in the northwest Aegean Sea. The three others are Alonnisos, Skiathos, and Skyros. Skopelos was the main island used to film the fictional island setting of Kalokairi in the original Mamma Mia! movie. You will recognize the backdrop in famous numbers like "I Have a Dream," "Money, Money, Money" and more.
On the first day, I spoke with Lily James and Jessica Keenan Wynn about playing the young Dynamos. They also revealed which song they would sing to woo someone. Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan and Jeremy Irvine talk about playing the young dads, nailing the impressions of the legacy characters and more.
The next day we visited the Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri, located in the region of Kastri in Northern Skopelos. You will recognize this church, which was featured in both Mamma Mia! films. This was the very same church where Sophie (Seyfried) decided to get married -- remember the scene in which her family and friends walk up the 202 steps to the top of the rock?
Donna (Streep) and Sam (Brosnan) sang “The Winner Takes It All” at the bottom of the rock. Climbing to the top of the rock provides a breathtakingly gorgeous view of Skopelos and Alonissos. Although I'll let you in on a secret -- the inside of the church was filmed elsewhere. I think it’s time we say, “I do!”
In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we once again see views of this church towards the end of the film. I can’t reveal the scene, of course.
We then took a boat tour around the Greek island, taking in the picturesque views on the crystal waters found all along the coastline. It’s no wonder Mamma Mia! looked like a slice of paradise. While on the tour, we passed Cape Amarantos, which has two pine trees on the limestone rock near Agnondas Beach. If you remember, Sophie and her dads shot a scene under the trees for the song "Our Last Summer." The harbor of Agnontas was also the location for filming a portion of “Money, Money, Money.”
When we arrived at Kastani Beach, it was one of the most magnificent, exotic beaches I’d ever seen. The blue-green water was crystal clear and was truly a slice of paradise. It soon became crystal clear (pun intended) why this island was used in filming several of the songs in Mamma Mia!
Our beloved Tanya, played brilliantly by Christine Baranski, danced in a red ensemble to "Does Your Mother Know" with a crew of young lads on the beach, right in front of the beach bar. Of course, the beach bar was built for filming and is no longer there -- but the beach still looks the same.
Also filmed on this beach was the number with Sophie and and Sky (Cooper) singing "Lay All Your Love on Me" as the young men emerge from the waves. Shot at night on Kastani Beach was the scene in which Sophie says goodbye to her dads. You can see the moonlight glistering on the sea, marking a bittersweet moment in the film.
Of course, with Kastani Beach playing such an instrumental role in the film, I also got to have some fun. Lucy Bardrick, the assistant choreographer on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, gave us media folks a dance class, teaching us the choreography she taught Pierce, Stellan, Firth and the rest of the crew to the epic number "Dancing Queen." With the beach in the backdrop, we all shook a leg and spent a wonderful afternoon, as "Dancing Queen" lyrics were forever engraved in our minds. I also had the chance to speak to Lucy about the choreography, training the dads and more! Click here to see our dance videos and interview with Lucy.
I left my heart on the island, and will forever know that I have two left feet when it comes to choreography. Thank you for the memories, Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is now available on Digital HD and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 23. And there’s a sing-along edition -- imagine that! Watch out for our review next week. If you would like to win a Blu-ray copy of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, leave a comment below telling us what's your favorite Mamma Mia! song. ~ Article and photos by Marriska Fernandes