Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus’ Mamma Mia! follows a young bride-to-be who invites three men to her upcoming wedding, with the possibility that any of them could be her father.
“A mother. A daughter. 3 possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget!”
Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on songs recorded by Swedish group ABBA and composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, members of the band. The title of the musical is, of course, taken from the group’s 1975 chart-topper ‘Mamma Mia’.
Ulvaeus and Andersson were involved in the development of the show from the beginning whilst Anni-Frid Lyngstad was involved financially in the production and she was also present at many of the premieres around the world. Agnetha Fältskog was not involved in the creation of the musical.
Mamma Mia!, which opened in the West End in 1999 and is still going strong, is the sixth longest-running show in West End history. The Broadway production, which ran from 2001 to 2015, is the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history.
A film adaptation, which featured an all-star cast led by Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried, was released in 2008. Its success led to a a sequel a decade later – aptly titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – with much of the cast returning (alongside Cher as Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother).
Mamma Mia!‘s stellar success led to an immersive theatrical and dining experience inspired by the musical. Mamma Mia! The Party opened in Stockholm, Sweden (ABBA’s country of origin) in 2016 and had its UK premiere at The O2 in London in 2019. The specially adapted venue is set in a Greek taverna on the island of Skopelos and features live musicians and real Mediterranean food (apparently it’s quite good).
A third ABBA production in London opened in 2022: ABBA Voyage, a virtual concert residency. The concerts feature virtual avatars (dubbed ‘ABBAtars’), depicting the group as they appeared in 1977. The concerts are held in a purpose-built venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, officially called the ABBA Arena.
I’m ashamed to say that, although I’ve seen a lot of shows (120 just last year), I have not yet seen any of these productions! I’m hoping to finally tick off Mamma Mia! when it arrives in Manchester in a few weeks.