It was ABBA's song "The Winner Take It All" that caught the attention of Judy Craymer and an idea developed in her mind. She conveyed her analysis to the band, telling them that their music has a theatrical potential. The band conceded after some reluctance a reluctance that wouldn't have been there had they known what a big hit this whole idea will get. Catherine Johnson was commissioned to work on the book for the musical, Phyllida Lloyd took up the directorial responsibilities and the whole team set out to work on what was about to become one of the best-selling Broadway musicals.
The original West End production of Mamma Mia! opened in 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Success at the premier took the musical to Toronto the next year and it played there until 2005. Mamma Mia's journey to Broadway wasn't that smooth, but when it did reach there, it became Broadway's tenth longest running show. It debuted at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, California in 2000 and then moved to Los Angeles's Shubert Theatre and Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago before finally reaching Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre in 2001. The venue housed Mamma Mia! until 2013 but now it has recently been transferred to Broadhurst Theatre. Direction by Phyllida Lloyd and choreography by Anthony Van Laast stayed the same for Broadway. Mamma Mia! also played at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in 2003 until it reached 1000 performances and was closed in 2009. Costumes and sets from this production were taken to Brazil. The musical celebrated its ninth year at the Winter Garden Theater in New York with a record of over 3400 performances. The original West End production celebrated its first ten years with a record of 4000 performances. North American tours in previous years have seen more than 3000 performances with a number of repeat visits.
Mamma Mia! Tours
Mamma Mia! has its touring productions spread all over the world. China, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Australia and Japan are among the countries where the musical has been taken. It reached North America as a part of a tour in 2002 and celebrated its 6th year of running in 2008. In addition to touring in other countries, it has also been adopted in fourteen languages to expand the audience of this brilliant production. Every day, there are at least seven productions of the musical going on in different parts of the world. May 15, 2005 became a record year for this production as its 1500 performances surpassed Broadway runs of Damn Yankees', The King and I' and The Sound of Music'.
Mamma Mia! is a total delight. Featuring brilliant performances, glamorous costumes, beautiful sets of that tiny Greek island and energetic dance routines, this show offers unparalleled entertainment. It is fast-paced and crisp; never letting the on-looker feel distant from the plot. The musical does not end with the bows; all the main characters come together to sing "Waterloo", "Mamma Mia" and "Dancing Queen" dressed as ABBA members. Moreover, audience members are sometimes also invited to come on the stage and sing along making worth the money.