Mamma Mia!, with a book by Catherine Johnson and music and lyrics from Benny Andersson and Bjrn Ulvaeus, is a musical based around the music from the band, ABBA, of which, Andersson and Ulvaeus were both members. Active between 1972 and 1982, the Swedish pop/dance group is one of the most popular international groups of all time, with hits that spanned the charts of Europe, North America and Australia.
The musical came to fruition under the idea of theatre producer, Judy Craymer. After seeing the 1983 musical, Chess, for which, Andersson and Ulvaeus also wrote the music, she asked to sit down with them and talk about future plans. When she heard their song "The Winner Takes It All," she realized the theatrical potential of the group's pop songs. Although the composers were initially not enthusiastic about the idea, they commissioned her to go forward with their work. Craymer then recruited playwright, Catherine Johnson, to write the book and took on Phyllida Lloyd as the director of the original London production.
Mamma Mia! premiered in the West End at the Prince Edward Theatre on April 6, 1999. It has been extremely successful and underwent two different location transfers (to the Prince of Wales Theatre in June 2004 and to the Novello Theatre in September 2012); it continues to play to full houses to this day. Toronto was the first city to produce the show after premiering in London, with a production that ran from May 22, 2000, to May 22, 2005.
The musical made its debut in the United States at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, California, on November 17, 2000. On February 26, 2001, the production moved to the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles and then to the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago on May 13 of the same year. Mamma Mia! moved further east to open on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 18, 2001, and then transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre on November 2, 2013. It remained one of the most popular shows on the Great White Way throughout its almost fifteen-year run.
The first North American tour started in Providence, Rhode Island, in February 2002, and then premiered in Las Vegas at the Mandelay Bay in February 2003.
Mamma Mia! has been performed in more than 40 countries and across five continents, including: Belgium, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. The first non-English production started in Hamburg, Germany, on November 3, 2002. Many international tours have run over the past several years, but the current one started off in Dublin on September 9, 2004.
- Mamma Mia! has grossed $2 billion worldwide since premiering in 1999.
- Over 54 million people have seen the musical in 40 different countries.
- It is said that, on any given day, there are at least seven performances of the musical being performed around the world.
- At the time of this writing, the Broadway production was ranked the tenth-longest running musical in Broadway history.
- Mamma Mia! has brought a renaissance to ABBA's music. Following the London premiere in 1999, the album, ABBA Gold, topped charts in the United Kingdom for the second time in fifteen years.
- The London production of the musical was one of the first times that three women (producer, Judy Craymer; book writer, Catherine Johnson; and director, Phyllida Lloyd) collaborated as a creative team. Its immense commercial success has been significant to the image of female creators in musical theatre.
- In June 2005, the Las Vegas production played its 1000th performance, becoming the longest-running West End or Broadway musical to ever play in Vegas.
- Mamma Mia! has premiered in more cities faster than any musical in history.
- Mamma Mia! has been translated into fourteen languages, including: German, Japanese, Spanish, Danish, French, and Chinese.
- The show is the first major musical to play concurrently in three German cities, with productions in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Essen all running in 2007.
- The Chinese premiere at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on July 11, 2011, was the first time a contemporary Western musical was presented in Chinese in Shanghai.
- A film adaptation of Mamma Mia! was released in July 2008. Featuring much of the creative team from the original London production, it starred Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan.