SARA Poyzer acknowledges that the five years she has spent in one of the world's most popular musicals has been an unforgettable experience.

And now after taking Mamma Mia to over 20 countries, she's bringing the show with arguably the greatest soundtrack ever to major theatres around the UK for the first time.

"It is such a phenomenon," said Sara who plays the lead role of Donna. "After two years of touring abroad we can't wait to get back to UK audiences.

"We took the show to Korea where out of respect for the performers the audience does not react at all. That was such a weird experience and we had to work so hard to encourage them to clap along and get into the show."

Set on a Greek island and with the songs of Swedish supergroup Abba at its core, Mamma Mia is the ultimate feelgood musical.

The facts are staggering. In the 17 years it has been running in London's West End around 10 per cent of the entire population of the UK have been to see the show. Worldwide 60 million people have seen it and it has been performed in 16 different languages.

Sara has been in the show in both in the West End as part of international tours.

"For the encore I have learnt how to say 'do you want one more song?' in so many different languages," she said.

As Donna, Sara plays a former member of an all-girl group who escaped to the sun when she fell pregnant never telling her daughter Sophie who her father is.

As Sophie prepares for her wedding unbeknown to her mother she invites the three former boyfriends who could be her dad and chaos ensues.

"It is such a feelgood show," said Sara. "When we were rehearsing for the tour back in February I went to watch the show in the West End. I wasn't sure about going but I'm so glad I did. I got a totally different sense of how an audience is so caught up in the whole thing.

With many of Abba's classic hits in the show, Sara believes that Mamma Mia is the ultimate jukebox musical.

"What makes it so special is the close relationship between the script and the songs," she said. "The songs really do feel as though they have been written for the show they are not just there for the sake of it."

Having been major hits for Abba, there's added pressure on the cast to do them justice.

"They are brilliant songs. They are just so catchy. Even now after all this time in the show if I hear one of them being played in a shop I can't help myself singing along," said Sara. "To do them justice on stage is a real challenge but we have a wonderful band to help us."

Sara admits to being an Abba fan in her childhood.

"One of the first albums I ever got was Abba's Greatest Hits which I played to death," she said.

Even though she has been a key part of the show for some time Sara has yet to meet Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba who wrote the songs.

"I'm hoping to meet them at some point," she said, "hopefully with this being the first UK tour they may come along to a show."

Also in the show, which runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester from Tuesday until June 4, is Sara's husband Richard Standing, probably best known for playing market trader Danny Hargreaves in Coronation Street.

"We are so fortunate to be in this show together," said Sara. "It's meant we have been able to share so many wonderful experiences touring the world.

"Being separated from your partner when you go on tour is one of the hardest things and I've seen other members of the cast really struggle with that. But it's like we've been able to have a gap year with each other and gone to some fabulous locations.

"Perhaps the most remarkable thing though has been the consistency of the audience reaction.

"No matter where we have been every night has ended with a standing ovation. I've never experienced that with any other show. People just love it."

Mamma Mia, Palace Theatre, Manchester. Tuesday, May 10 to Saturday, June 4. Details from 0844 871 3019.