Mamma Mia! - literally! The ABBA musical will extend at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre through Dec. 31, 2000, instead of closing Sept. 10 as previously announced. Tickets go on sale for these new dates June 19.
Three more months of "Dancing Queen" means nothing but trouble for the Royal Alexandra's fall season coordinators, already set to include Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, Stones in His Pocket, A Flea in Her Ear, The Drawer Boy and The Drowsy Chaperone. The first will move to the Pantages, currently hosting a tour of Rent. The other four will play at the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre.
Still, there can be no complaints from the upcoming San Francisco production -- it's already cast. The current Toronto company will leave their home for Golden Gate Brige Nov. 4, where Dora winner Louise Pitre and newcomer Tina Maddigan will head up a new Mamma Mia! staging.
A new company will begin at the Royal Alexandra Nov. 6. Auditions for replacements will be held in August.
Tickets to Mamma Mia! are $93-$25. To reserve, call (416) 872 1212 or 1-800-461 3333. *
Mamma Mia!, the British-born musical currently playing at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre, broke two of the venue's sales records, moving 7,321 tickets on May 24, the day after opening. Add that to the previous record-break for the show: 10, 298 tickets sold on March 20, the first day of Mamma Mia! sales.
The well-received Toronto production opened May 23 after beginning previews May 11. Mamma Mia! is scheduled to run through Sept. 10. It will tour Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago before checking into a Broadway house.
The mother-and-daughter team that heads up Mamma Mia!'s plot is filled by Pitre and Maddigan, a Toronto theatre vet and a newcomer, respectively. They join a cast that includes Adam Brazier, Gary Lynch, Lee MacDougall, Mary Ellen Mahoney, David Mucci and Gabrielle Jones.
A Dora Mavor Moore Award winner for both Piaf and Blood Brothers, Pitre's 20 years of credits include musical theatre stints with Les Miserables, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd and Cabaret.
This will be Maddigan's first major role. She graduated in 1998 as a Musical Theatre major at Sheridan College.
Brazier (as Sky) is a Stratford Festival vet whose credits there include Romeo and Juliet, Camelot and Man of La Mancha. Lynch (Sam Carmichael) portrayed Javert on Broadway and has toured the U.S. as El Gallo in The Fantasticks. Playwright MacDougall (Harry Bright) won the 1996 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play for High Life and most recently appeared on the Royal Alexandra stage in Damn Yankees. Mahoney (Tanya) starred in the Royal Alexandra's Crazy For You, also performing on the Royal Alex stage in The Heidi Chronicles and Singin’ and Dancin’ Tonight. She won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for her appearance in A Little Night Music and was nominated as the lead in Beckett's Happy Days. Mucci (Bill Austin) performed on Broadway in both Ragtime and Buddy and nears his 2000th performance at the Royal Alexandra, the most by an actor on that stage. Jones, last at the Royal Alexandra in Les Miserables, has spent six seasons with the Shaw Festival and four with the Stratford festival.
The ensemble features Charles Azulay, Danny Balkwill, Karen Burthwright, Jordan Cable, Nadia Duggin, Kelly Fletcher, Tracey Flye, Howard Kaye, Lisa Kisch, Nadine Roden, David Rosser, Monique Lund, Matt Murray, Daniel Jason O’Keefe, Craig Ramsay, Jennifer Toulmin, Astrid Van Wieren and Shawn Wright.
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. While the daughter plans her future the love of her life, her mother is haunted by three different men who may or may not be her daughter's father.
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."
Andersson and 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.
-- By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson