The hits of ABBA may be twentysomething, but Mamma Mia!, the London musical interpolating the Swedish group's greatest hits, celebrated its first birthday March 20 at the Prince Edward Theatre (Mamma opened there April 6, 1999).
The show's popularity hasn't faded in a year's time, either. London's Evening Standard reports a current box office take of £15 million with an advance of £8 million.
Although not the 1999 Olivier Award winner for best musical, it did garner an award for its female stars Jenny Galloway, beating out her co star Louise Plowright (who now takes over the lead role of the mother from Siobhan McCarthy).
Mamma Mia collects a couple dozen hit songs by the Swedish supergroup ABBA and shapes them around the story of a single mother and her young daughter's marriage on a Greek isle. In structure, it resembles Saturday Night Fever, another London-born musical built around already existing hits by a popular singing group -- in that case, the disco kings, The Bee Gees.
Among the songs used in Mamma Mia are such familiar 70s staples as "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "S.O.S.," "Take a Chance on Me" and "The Winner Takes It All." Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the songwriting half of ABBA, previously wrote the musical Chess, which enjoyed an extended run at the Prince Edward in the 1980s in a production directed by Trevor Nunn, currently artistic director of the National Theatre.
Mamma Mia is directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. It is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
Single tickets for Mamma Mia! go on sale in Toronto March 20. The Canadian presentation, the show's North American premiere, begins performances at the Royal Alexandria May 11 with an original closing date set for September 10.
Tickets are $93-$25. To reserve, call (416) 872-1212 or 1-800-461 3333.