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Donna Sheridan (b. approx. 1958[1] - d. 2004[2]) is the central character of the stage musical Mamma Mia! and its the film adaption the 2008 film of the same name. She also appears in its sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Background

Donna is the owner and manageress of a hotel named the Bella Donna on the Greek island of Kalokairi. She is also the mother of Sophie Sheridan, and the love-interest of the 'three possible fathers', however ultimately, Sam Carmichael. Donna was also once a member of Donna and the Dynamos, alongside her two best-friends, Rosie Mulligan and Tanya Chesham-Leigh.

Personality

When introduced, Donna is shown to be an honest, hard-working woman, managing the Villa Donna by herself and being a single-mother to Sophie Sheridan. Donna is a free-spirit and something of a 'flower-child', growing up during the '70's. Despite this fun-loving, often reckless side to her, Donna's responsibilities and past experiences have forced her to become wiser, stronger but often sacrificing her own happiness and luxuries for the survival of the Villa Donna and her daughter.

Donna is a good mother, having raised Sophie to be kind, happy person, alone. Donna is also a good friend and generous woman.

In her youth, Donna's sunny, reckless and passionate side have yet to be bellied by her future responsibilities. Donna is hopeful, intelligent, romantic and has a zest for life. Donna also has a dream to travel the world. However, Donna is far from innocent - she is independent, courageous and knows what she wants from life.

Physical Appearance

Donna is a tall, beautiful woman with long, curly blonde hair and brown eyes. Her friend, Tanya describes her as looking like "an old hippie". She often wears dungarees, or colourful clothes influenced by her early-life during '70's.

Appearances

Mamma Mia! (2008)

Donna is introduced as the doting mother to Sophie Sheridan, as well as the cash-strapped and stressed owner and manageress of a hotel, the Villa Donna on the Greek island of Kalokairi. Donna is also one of three best-friends and band members, of Donna and the Dynamos, of which she was the lead singer. As her daughter's wedding emerges, Donna welcomes her two best-friends, Rosie Mulligan and Tanya Chesham-Leigh to the island, to whom she explains her precarious finances.

Donna explains how much pain her former lovers caused her but at the same time how easily she can come to temptation. Sophie's three possible fathers, Sam Carmichael, Bill Anderson and Harry Bright arrive, upsetting Donna who fears that Sophie will find out, unaware that Sophie was the one who invited the three men secretly. Rosie and Tanya try to rally her spirits up by singing to her and getting her to dance. Her female workers and the local villagers join in ("Dancing Queen"). In Our Last Summer, Donna reminisces photos of her as a younger and carefree girl and tries to figure out who Sophie's true father is as she herself is unaware. At her daughter's bachelorette party, Donna performs one of her old band songs "Super Trouper" with her former bandmates Rosie and Tanya as "Donna and the Dynamos", years since their last performance. As the wedding emerges, Donna confronts her former lover Sam Carmichael and realizes that she is still in love with him, despite him abandoning her. She struggles to get over their rocky past, despite Sam's heartfelt attempts at winning her back ("SOS"). Donna helps Sophie get ready for her wedding day and reminisces Sophie's childhood and how quickly she has grown up and regrets not making more memories with Sophie while she had the chance ("Slipping Through My Fingers"). Sadly, Donna accepts that Sophie must grow up and fondly helps her prepare. She also tearfully agrees to step into the father role and give Sophie away at the wedding and explains how her mother, Sophie's grandmother, told Donna not to bother coming home when she fell pregnant. Donna tells an emotional Sophie she doesn't regret a second of her time with Sophie. Minutes before the wedding, Donna reveals to Sam the pain she went through over losing him ("The Winner Takes It All"). In "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do", Sam reveals that he has loved Donna for 21 years and proposes. Donna happily agrees and they marry in place of Sophie and Sky. She is seen in the following scene smiling and kissing Sam and watches with amusement when Rosie sings "Take a Chance on Me" in a bid to seduce Bill. Donna is seen finally as a silhouette, walking Sophie down the docks and hugging her goodbye as Sophie and Sky leave to travel. Donna watches them fade away with Sam, Bill, and Harry nearby.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Flashbacks

During the 1970s, Donna met and became friends with Rosie Mulligan and Tanya Chesham-Leigh during her studies at the University of Oxford. The three of them became known as Donna and the Dynamos and often performed together in the city. During her time at university, Donna was a 'flower-child', and a talented student, chosen to be the first female valedictorian at her college.

Donna graduated from New College, Oxford in 1979. Donna was late to the ceremony, but arrived in time to be invited onto the stage by the Vice Chancellor to speak as valedictorian. During this, Donna proved her rebellious nature and performed "When I Kissed the Teacher" with her friends, Rosie Mulligan and Tanya Chesham-Leigh as Donna and the Dynamos. Once graduated, Donna refused to return home because her mother Ruby Sheridan had not attended her graduation, deciding to travel as a singer instead.

Donna began her travels in Paris, France, where she meets the college student Harry Bright, at the hotel they both stayed in when he gets locked out of his room. They go on a date, walking through the city. As soon as Harry implies her on continuing their romance, Donna reveals her plans of traveling to the Greek island of Kalokairi. When the two dine out at a Napoleon-themed cafe, he starts serenading her "Waterloo", in hopes she might reconsider. Donna is charmed, and they spend the night together. Donna leaves without saying goodbye, but writes Harry a farewell note.

While in mainland Greece, Donna misses the ferry to Kalokairi and meets young sailor Bill Anderson, who offers her a ride to the island on his boat. They flirt with each other, and the chemistry grows when they sing "Why Did It Have to Be". Harry follows Donna all the way from Paris but misses the ferry too, and is left heartbroken when he sees the ferry fading in the distance. Upon their way, Bill and Donna help a fisherman named Alexio as he rushes to his love Apollonia and prevent her from marrying another. When Donna and Bill arrive to the island, Bill assures her he will come back after the race, and warns her about the stormy weather expected at night.

After Donna discovers an abandoned farmhouse, a strong storm starts, and she finds a miserable horse. She goes out to seek help, running into a young architect who also has been traveling in the island, Sam Carmichael. The next day, they travel downtown at the market and at Lazaros' tavern, where Donna recounts her relationship with her mother Ruby and shares she has no father figure. Donna recognises an opportunity for her and her friends to perform as the Dynamos at the tavern, and speaks with Lazaros to evaluate the possibility. Lazaros asks her to show him her abilities before he answers. Then Donna sings the first verse of "Andante, Andante". Lazaros is impressed and introduces her to the rest of the staff. Donna and Sam bond more and stroll on the beach and the exotic island scenery, while singing the rest of "Andante, Andante". The next day they go sailing in a small boat, taking pictures and dreaming of a miraculous future. Donna realizes she has been falling in love with Sam, and sings "The Name of the Game". However, Donna learns that he was already engaged and refuses to see Sam again. They sing "Knowing Me, Knowing You" as they part ways. Right then, Rosie and Tanya join Donna in Kalokairi, trying to support her, and perform "Mamma Mia!" as Donna and the Dynamos at the tavern, where they all meet Bill again, who has returned from his sailing race earlier than expected, saying he was worried about Donna. Donna then rekindles her flirtation with Bill and has a brief romance with him. Sam, having ended his engagement with his fiancé, returns to reconcile with Donna, but is told by Sophia that she has gone with another, which makes him leave heartbroken.

Donna later finds endless support from her friends and the Greek villagers, as she progresses through an unexpected pregnancy and eventually gives birth to a healthy baby girl in 1980. Donna names the baby Sophie, after Bill's great-aunt Sofia, who became a mother-figure to Donna. Donna later happily cradles her new daughter and attends a quaint, loving christening and vows to care for and protect Sophie, despite not knowing who the father is, as she sings "My Love, My Life". Sofia gifts Donna money, which she would use to convert the old farm house into a tavern (using Sam's designs).

Present Day

Five years after the events of Mamma Mia! it is implied that Donna is absent from the life of Sophie, who, like her during the late 1970s, is pregnant and anxious. It is revealed in the film that a year prior Donna sadly passed away from cancer. Despite this, she lives on through Sophie, as her daughter reflects on Donna's past. Donna is briefly seen in the chapel at her grandson's christening, in spirit. She says goodbye to her daughter "My Love, My Life". She, along with the other main characters, sing "Super Trouper" before the credits, and makes amends with her mother, Ruby.

Behind the Scenes

  • In the 2008 film and its sequel, Donna is portrayed by famed American actress Meryl Streep. A young Donna appears in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, portrayed by English actress Lily James.
  • An extended version of the song The Name of the Game sung by Lily James is found within the sequel's DVD bonuses.
  • The DVD of the sequel contains a bonus deleted scene called Tahini, where Donna visits Sam's shack and later briefly utters a few lines from ABBA's song "I Do, I Do ,I Do, I Do".
  • An extended version of the song Knowing Me, Knowing You featuring the voices of Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried is found in the sequel's soundtrack.

Trivia

  • Meryl Streep attended a showing of the musical on Broadway, and found it to be an affirmation of life. Sending a very positive letter to the producers, and they all decided to campaign to get her to play Donna Sheridan.
  • It is implied in "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again", that Fernando Cienfuegos, Ruby Sheridan’s former lover, is Donna’s father[3].
  • Previously stating that she doesn’t appear in sequels, Meryl Streep wanted to make an appearance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again despite this, because she loved playing Donna in the first film.

References

  1. According to Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again the Donna flashbacks occur in 1979. Donna presumably twenty-one at the time, meaning she was born in late 1958. This is however inconsistent with the implication that Fernando Cienfuegos is Donna's father from an affair with Ruby in "Mexico, 1959". In Mamma Mia! Sophie is said to be twenty years old. This means that, as Donna was roughly twenty-two when she gave birth she is roughly forty-two in Mamma Mia!
  2. The events of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again take place five years after Mamma Mia! which takes place in 2000. Donna is claimed to have passed away roughly a year prior, meaning Donna died in 2004.
  3. It is said that Ruby and Fernando's affair took place in 1959, which is very close to Donna's birthdate. Actor, Andy Garcia, also stated in an interview that it is possible.
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