Canada can't get enough of ABBA -- at least as the Swedish songwriters are represented in Mamma Mia!, the British-born musical currently playing at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre. The pop tuner 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 is then expected to tour North America before checking into a Broadway house.
The mother-and-daughter team that heads up Mamma Mia!'s plot is filled by Louise Pitre and Tina 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.
Single tickets for Mamma Mia! went on sale in Toronto March 20. Tickets are $93-$25. To reserve, call (416) 872-1212 or 1-800-461 3333.