On a tiny Greek island a wedding is about to take place...
Mamma Mia! is ABBA's greatest hits woven into 3 wonderful love stories: A young girl about to be married; her mother about to confront the past; and the best love story of all - the audience about to jump out of their seats with joy. This is a musical love story, which crosses continents - and generations. Essentially about true love, old and new, the musical also explores the fabric of 'family' and, in particular the relationship between a mother and her soon-to-wed daughter - the stage musical transports its audience to a tiny and mythical Greek island as we share two unforgettable days in the lives of our heroines - and heroes - surrounded by crystal blue seas and beneath a beating Grecian sun.
"ABBA-solutely fabulous!" The Daily Mail
Over twenty ABBA songs, ranging from classics like 'Dancing Queen' and 'The Winner Takes It All' to the less well known, yet equally impressive, 'Slipping Through My Fingers' and 'Our Last Summer', form the basis of what Bjorn Ulvaeus himself describes as "the musical we never knew we had written."
I have a dream... Every one of Abbas songs tells a story. Inspired by deeply personal feelings and events, sometimes painful but often joyous, it can be of little surprise that several generations of music lovers have taken these songs to their hearts. Today a staggering one in five households in the UK owns a copy of ABBA GOLD, an album released in 1992 that has remained in the charts for over 200 weeks, and which returned to No.1 the week after Mamma Mia! opened in 1999. An amazing achievement for a band that stopped recording in 1982.
Producer Judy Craymer, who had worked with Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice as Executive Producer on Chess which enjoyed a three run in the late 1980s at London's Prince Edward Theatre, was convinced that there was a musical to be created featuring many of ABBA's most popular songs. It was the award-winning playwright Catherine Johnson who created the story which captured the imagination of Judy Craymer and her producing partners Richard East and Bjorn Ulvaeus. The lyrics to each chosen ABBA song glided effortlessly into Catherine's funny and poignant tale of family and friendship. Following the appointment of director Phyllida Lloyd, renowned for her work in opera and at the National Theatre, the project gathered further momentum as an experience creative team - Mark Thompson (designer), Howard Harrison (lighting), Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken (sound), Martin Koch (additional orchestrations and musical supervision) and Anthony Van Laast (choreography) - worked as a collaborative team to bring Mamma Mia! to theatrical life.
25 years ago to the day of Mamma Mia!'s world premiere performance at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, a new group - ABBA - known in their native Sweden but unknown to the rest of the world, triumphed at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest held at the Dome in Brighton. The winning song was 'Waterloo' and the rest, as they say, is history. For 'Waterloo' didn't just win Eurovision, it also went to number one in the UK and into the Top 10 in the United States. Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid were set on an unstoppable path that has to date seen ABBA sell over 350 million records. Number One hit singles, platinum albums, sell-out concert tours and even a hit movie turned ABBA into a global phenomenon. Even after the group themselves went their separate ways, the ABBA sound was kept alive by ABBA GOLD, ABBA Love Stories and the limited edition ABBA Singles Collection which have continued to bring the group chart success.
Composers Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus have twice before scored success in the musical theatre, firstly with their smash hit musical Chess, written in collaboration with Tim Rice, which produced a best selling album and two hit singles - 'I Know Him So Well' and 'One Night In Bangkok' and secondly with Kristina Fran Duvemala, an epic musical adventure which sees a young Swedish peasant girl journey to a new life in America. It remains the most successful musical to have ever premiered in Sweden.
Mamma Mia! originally opened on 6 April 1999 at the Prince Edward Theatre, it then transferred to the newly refurbished Prince of Wales Theatre on 3 June 2004 where it played up to 1 September 2012 before transferring to the Novello Theatre from 6 September 2012.
"Sheer heaven! An irresistibly enjoyable hit! Catherine Johnson's witty and ingenious script weaves the famous ABBA songs around characters you care about. At the end the whole audience is on its feet and swaying blissfully along to the hits. What a pleasure it is to see that girl, watch that scene and dig the dancing queen!" The Daily Telegraph
"Thank you for the musical! The fun of this show lies in the skill and wit with which the songs are fitted into the story, not just as decorations, but moving it along, almost as if they had been written for it. Audiences rise to Mamma Mia! like a thunderstorm" The Sunday Times
"Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre, is a surefire hit. Stringing together a large number of Abba songs might alone have guaranteed a success, but Catherine Johnson, who has written the book, has done better than that. She hasn't attempted anything deep, dark, svelte or artistic: there is no contravention of the Abba ethos. She has produced a buoyant, celebratory piece which contains both irony and soppiness, the tacky and the wholesome, and which bounces 22 Abba numbers into the audience... Johnson's most inventive move is to make her musical into a game in which the audience tries to guess which song is coming, as the plot sneaks up on and finally snares a well-known number." The Observer
Mamma Mia! in London opened on 6 April 1999 and closed on 27 May 2004 at the Prince Edward Theatre before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre from 9 June 2004 to 1 Setember 2012. The production then transferred to the Novello Theatre from 6 September 2012.