You have a decision to make. Do you get Mamma Mia! tickets when the musical comes to your neck of the woods—or when you have a chance to see a residency production in either Broadway, the West End, or another big city—or do you just watch the 2008 British film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Bronsan. Seeing the film will save you a few bucks but it doesn’t even come close to rivaling the live performance. Mamma Mia the musical is one of the best times you’ll ever have at the theatre. If you’re not dancing in the aisle at some point during the show your fellow theater-goers will be.
Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical that uses the songs of ABBA. These songs were composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the two blonde dudes from the aforementioned Swedish pop band. They were approached with the idea to turn their songs into a musical by producer Judy Craymer. The songwriters were not enthusiastic but they didn’t say no either. It’s a good thing they didn’t put the kibosh on Craymer’s dream because Mamma Mia went on to be one of the most successful musicals of all-time. It’s been seen by tens of millions of people and raked in billions of dollars. Mamma Mia productions have sprung up all over the world from Buenos Aires to Moscow to Vienna. Tours have been launched in the United States, Pakistan, and South Africa.
Mamma Mia! opened on the West End in April of 1999. It debuted on Broadway on Oct. 18, 2001. The book was written by Catherine Johnson and the show was directed by Phyllida Lloyd (she directed both the London and Broadway original productions). Throw in producer Judy Craymer and you have one of the rare instances in musical theater history where the three main members of a musical’s creative team were women.
Some of the ABBA songs you’ll hear in Mamma Mia include “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “The Name of the Game,” “The Winner Takes It All,” and “Take a Chance on Me.” The song “Waterloo” is featured in the encore.