Mamma Mia! is based on the songs of ABBA, a Swedish pop/dance group active from 1972–1982 and one of the most popular international pop groups of all time, topping the charts again and again in Europe, North and South America and Australia. Following the premiere of the musical in London in 1999, ABBA Gold topped the charts in the United Kingdom again. This musical was the brainchild of producer Judy Craymer. She met songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson in 1983 when they were working with Tim Rice on Chess. It was the song "The Winner Takes It All" that suggested to her the theatrical potential of their pop songs. The songwriters were not enthusiastic, but they were not completely opposed to the idea.
In 1997, Craymer commissioned Catherine Johnson to write the book for the musical. In 1998, Phyllida Lloyd became the director for the show.
The musical opened in the West End at the Prince Edward Theatre on April 6, 1999, and transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre on June 9, 2004, where it played until September 2012, when it moved to the Novello Theatre. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast, the original cast featured Siobhan McCarthy, Lisa Stokke, and Hilton McRae.
Prior to the musical's Broadway engagement, it opened in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in May 2000, where it played for five years. Its US debut was in San Francisco, California, at the Orpheum Theatre from November 17, 2000 to February 17, 2001, moving next to Los Angeles, California, at the Shubert Theatre from February 26, 2001 to May 12, 2001, and finally to Chicago, Illinois, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from May 13, 2001 to August 12, 2001.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 18, 2001, after beginning previews on October 5. The director is Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast. As of February 2017, it is the eighth longest-running Broadway show and the longest-running jukebox musical in Broadway history. On April 18, 2013, it was announced that Mamma Mia! would transfer from its home at the Winter Garden Theatre to the Broadhurst Theatre later that year to make way for the musical adaptation of Rocky. The show played its final performance at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 19, 2013 and began performances at the Broadhurst Theatre on November 2, 2013.
It was announced on April 9, 2015 that the show would close on September 5, 2015. On April 21, 2015, it was then announced that show would play an additional week and would instead close on September 12, 2015. Mamma Mia! played 5,773 performances on Broadway before closing.
Mamma Mia! has been played in more than 40 countries in all 6 continents, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lituania, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States, and has been translated into 22 languages: German, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Norwegian, Italian, Danish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Icelandic, Estonian, and Greek. Over 60 million people have seen the show worldwide and it has set the record for premiering in more cities faster than any other musical in history.
The first city to produce the show after London was Toronto, where it ran from May 22, 2000 to May 22, 2005, being the North America premiere of Mamma Mia!. The original cast included Louise Pitre as Donna and Tina Maddigan as Sophie, who both of them later reprised their roles in first US Tour and Broadway premiere.
Mamma Mia! played in Las Vegas, opening at the Mandalay Bay in February 2003 and closing on January 4, 2009. In June 2005, Mamma Mia! played its 1000th performance in Las Vegas, becoming the longest-running West End/Broadway musical in Las Vegas. The clothes and scenarios from this production are now used in Brazil. The show returned to Las Vegas on May 16, 2014 at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, but announced its closing soon after on July 22.
The North American tour started in Providence, Rhode Island in February 2002, and has since played more than 120 cities as of its 6th anniversary in 2008.
The first non-English version of the show debuted in Hamburg at the Operettenhaus, where it ran from November 3, 2002 to September 8, 2007. With the productions of Stuttgart (2004) and Essen (2007), Mamma Mia! became the first major musical to play concurrently in three German cities.
The show has had (and in some cases, still has) permanent productions in London, Toronto, Melbourne, New York, Hamburg, Tokyo (later transferred to Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya), Las Vegas, Utrecht, Seoul (later transferred to Seongnam and Daegu), Stuttgart, Madrid (later transferred to Barcelona), Stockholm (later transferred to Gothenburg), Antwerp, Moscow, Essen, Berlin, Oslo, Mexico City, Milan (later transferred to Rome), Copenhagen (later transferred to Aarhus), Paris, São Paulo, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Vienna and Helsinki.
Since its premiere in Dublin on September 9, 2004 (with Helen Hobson as Donna) the international tour has visited more than 74 cities in 35 countries and has been seen by 5 million people. In addition there have been several touring productions worldwide, including Australia/Asia (2002–2005), Australia (2009-2010), China, France (2012-2013), Germany, Japan, Netherlands (2009-2010), North America (since 2002), Spain (2009-2011 and 2016-2017), South Africa (2010-2011), South Korea, United Kingdom (2016-2017), and United States (2000-2001).
The Dutch actress Lone van Roosendaal has played Donna in three different countries: Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
The South African tour, conducted at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town on August 11, 2010 and 3 months later at The Teatro, Montecasino in Johannesburg, featured an all local cast.
The Chinese production opened on July 11, 2011 at the Shanghai Grand Theatre and closed on January 18, 2012 at Shanghai Cultural Square after a small tour, marking the first time that a blockbuster contemporary Western musical were presented in Chinese in Shanghai (there was a previous Chinese production of Beauty and the Beast in Beijing in 1999). It was seen by 250,000 people across six venues, with a total of 190 performances. Shadow Zen played the role of Donna.
On January 24, 2012, Mamma Mia! opened in Manila at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines as part of the international Tour. The show was originally set to stay only for a week but with the positive response, the organisers decided that it would play until February 19, 2012. The show features Sara Poyzer as Donna Sheridan and Charlotte Wakefield as Sophie. The cast also included Kate Graham (Tanya), Jenny Dale (Rosie) and David Roberts (Sky).
A New Zealand tour production of Mamma Mia! opened at the Auckland Civic Theatre on March 4, 2014, featuring an all new set design by John Harding. International theatre star Deliah Hannah played Donna, and popular New Zealand entertainment icon Jackie Clark plays Rosie. The NZ tour visited 11 cites in 2014 - 2016
The musical is performed on sailings of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.Unlike other cruise ship performances of musicals, the show is performed in its entirety.
In Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, the musical had its premiere on December 12, 2014. Czech is the seventeenth language in which the musical was performed. At the date of the premiere a record 70,000 tickets were sold.
On February 21, 2015, the musical premiered in Warsaw, Poland at Roma Musical Theatre.
The Belgrade, Serbia - Terazije Theatre (Pozorište na Terazijama) premiere was on March 27, 2015.
On June 15, 2015 in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, premiere of Slovene production took place in Križanke Outdoor Theatre as a part of Ljubljana Summer Festival (Poletni festival Ljubljana).
On March 18, 2016, Mamma Mia! opened for the first time in Panama City, Panama, at the Anayansi Theatre in the Atlapa Convention Centre, directed by Aaron Zebede.
On May 27, 2016 the first regional production opened at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.
On 31 August 2016, it was announced that the show would once again tour Australia with the premier being held in Canberra in November 2017 before transferring to Brisbane the following month. The tour has been confirmed to include all 6 major Australian cities. Casting is yet to be announced.
Before the curtain rises, the orchestra starts playing the overture, which is a montage of instrumental versions of some of ABBA's hit songs.
On the Greek island of Kalokairi, 20-year-old Sophie is preparing to marry her fiancé, Sky. She wants her father to walk her down the aisle ("Prologue") but does not know who he is. Sophie discovers her mother's old diary and finds entries which describe intimate dates with three men (Sam Carmichael, Bill Austin (Anderson in the film version), and Harry Bright) ("Honey, Honey"). Sophie believes one of these men is her father and, three months prior to the wedding, sends each an invitation to her wedding, writing in the name of her mother, Donna, without letting the unsuspecting mother know.
The day before the wedding, Donna begins receiving guests at her taverna. The first to arrive are her old best friends, Tanya, a rich woman who has been married and divorced three times, and Rosie, an unmarried, carefree woman. The trio used to be a girl group called "Donna and the Dynamos". The three women catch up and talk about how their lives have been ("Money, Money, Money").
Later that day, Sophie's three possible fathers arrive: Sam (an American architect), Harry (a British banker), and Bill (originally an Australian writer and adventurer, Swedish in the film, and currently American in New York and on tour). Sophie convinces them not to tell Donna that she invited them ("Thank You for the Music"). Donna is surprised to see her ex-lovers ("Mamma Mia") and leaves in tears. Donna, crying, explains to Tanya and Rosie the situation, and they cheer her up ("Chiquitita"). Tanya and Rosie try to convince Donna that she can still be the girl that she once was ("Dancing Queen").
Sophie had hoped she would know her father the moment she saw him, but is now only confused. She tries to tell her fiancé, Sky, how she feels without confessing what she has done. Sky tells her he will be the only man she ever needs ("Lay All Your Love on Me").
At Sophie's hen party, Donna and the Dynamos don their old costumes and perform a song, "Super Trouper". Sam, Bill, and Harry accidentally walk in on the party, and the guests persuade them to stay ("Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"). Sophie first pulls Sam out of the room to talk to him. After he asks why he is here, she is overcome with guilt and goes to talk to Harry instead. But Harry asks if Sophie's father is at the party, and she tells him the whole truth. Lastly, she draws Bill aside to talk with him. She learns that Bill has an aunt Sophia who left all her money to Donna's family. Bill learns that Donna built the taverna with money she inherited from a friend she lived with when Sophie was a baby; that friend was Bill's aunt. They both think this means he is her father.
Sophie asks Bill to walk her down the aisle, but Bill wants to discuss it first with Donna. This has been her secret, after all. But no one knows yet that even Donna does not know who the father is, because she slept with the three men in such swift succession. Sophie insists they must not tell Donna anything ("The Name of the Game") and finally, Bill agrees.
Afterward, everybody crashes the hen party (including the guys from the stag party). Eddie, a stripper, has an erotic yet tasteful nude scene. During the striptease, Sam pulls Sophie aside and tells her he has figured out why she invited him. He knows he is her father and promises to walk her down the aisle the next day. Then, Harry approaches Sophie, apologizing for being so slow on the uptake; he is also convinced that she is his daughter and promises to walk her down the aisle. Sophie leaves the party, hopelessly confused; she does not want to turn any of them down ("Voulez-Vous").
(Entr'acte) Sophie's having a nightmare, involving her three possible fathers all fighting for the right to walk her down the aisle and wakes up despairing ("Under Attack").
Sophie's upset, and Donna assumes that Sophie wants to cancel the wedding and offers to handle all the details. Sophie is offended and vows that her children won't grow up not knowing who their father is. As Sophie storms out of the room, Sam enters and tries to tell Donna that Sophie may not be all she seems, but Donna won't listen ("One of Us"). She hates Sam; at the end of their affair, she said she never wanted to see him again. But it seems that Sam was the man Donna cared about the most, and both of them wish they could go back to the start ("SOS"').
At the beach, Harry asks Tanya what the father of the bride ought to be doing for Sophie's wedding. Tanya explains that for her part, her father gave her his advice and then paid. Pepper, one of the guys who works at Donna's taverna, makes advances to Tanya, but she rebuffs him ("Does Your Mother Know").
Sky finds out what Sophie has done in inviting Sam, Harry and Bill to the wedding. He accuses her of wanting a big white wedding only so that she can find out who her father is. He's very hurt that she kept this plan a secret from him. He storms off just as Sam walks in. Sam tries to give Sophie some fatherly advice by describing his failed marriage ("Knowing Me, Knowing You"), but Sophie isn't consoled.
Harry offers to Donna to pay for the wedding, and they reminisce about their fling ("Our Last Summer"). Sophie arrives and Donna helps her get dressed. She cannot believe her daughter is going to be a bride ("Slipping Through My Fingers"). Donna admits that her own mother disowned her when she learned that she was pregnant. They reconcile and Sophie asks her mother if she will walk her down the aisle. Sam arrives and tries to speak to Donna again, but she does not want to see him, and asks him to leave. He refuses, and a bitter confrontation ensues. Donna tells Sam that he broke her heart, presumably when she found out he was engaged ("The Winner Takes It All"). It emerges that the two still love each other dearly, albeit against Donna's better judgment.
Rosie is making final preparations in the taverna when Bill arrives. He's upset because he has received a note that Donna will be walking Sophie down the aisle. Bill reaffirms his commitment to the single life, but Rosie has become attracted to him, and urges him to reconsider ("Take a Chance on Me"). They are about to have sex in the taverna, but the guests arrive, leaving Rosie quite stunned.
The wedding begins, with Donna walking Sophie down the aisle. Before the priest has a chance to begin the ceremonies, Donna acknowledges to everyone that Sophie's father is present. Sophie tells her mother that she knows about her father. Donna realizes that Sophie invited them to the wedding for that very reason. The issue of Sophie's parentage is left unsettled, as none of them have any idea whether they are actually her father. Everyone involved agrees that it does not matter which one of them her biological parent is, as Sophie loves all three and they are all happy to be "one-third of a father" and a part of her life at last. Finally, Harry, who has made frequent references to his "other half" throughout the show, is revealed to be in a committed gay relationship.
Suddenly, Sophie calls a halt to the proceedings. She is not ready to get married and Sky agrees with Sophie about not getting married. Sam seizes his chance and proposes to Donna in order to prevent the wedding preparations from going to waste. He explains that he loved her, even when he left to get married. It is revealed that he called off the wedding with his fiancée and came back to the island, only to be told that Donna was going out with another man (Bill). He went back, married his fiancée and had children but he got divorced. Surprisingly, Donna accepts ("I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do"). In the end, Sam and Donna are married, and at the end of the night, Sophie and Sky depart on a round-the-world tour ("I Have a Dream") .
After their final bows to the audience, which are set to an instrumental version of "Does Your Mother Know", the ensemble performs a reprise of "Mamma Mia". A reprise of "Dancing Queen" follows, during which Donna, Tanya, Rosie are revealed wearing brightly colored ABBA inspired costumes. The cast ends the finale with "Waterloo", during which Sam, Bill, and Harry join the rest of the cast onstage in brightly colored costumes that match the leading ladies. The Dynamos and the Dads often invite the audience to clap, dance, and sing along during the finale.
Encore"Mamma Mia" - Company
"Dancing Queen" - Donna, Tanya, Rosie & Company
"Waterloo" - Company
During the preview period in London, the musical had the song "Summer Night City" just after the prologue. The "Summer Night City" scene was a wedding rehearsal and during the song, Ali, Lisa, Tanya, and Rosie arrived on the island. Now, part of the song is used as underscoring to connect the end of "The Winner Takes It All" and "Take a Chance on Me". You can also hear a couple of lines of "Summer Night City" in the 'Entr'acte' (the most noticeable line is: 'Time to breathe and time to live').
Donna hums a few lines of "Fernando", when she repairs the doors of the taverna just before she sees her three former lovers. In the Mexican production Donna sings a few lines of ABBA's original Spanish version of the song.
In the German production, Sky (Bernhard Forcher) sang a few lines of "King Kong Song" before starting "Lay All Your Love on Me". Niklas Riesbeck uses the same song in the Swedish production. Andrey Kozhan sang a few lines of Summer Night City in the Russian production. In the international tour version, Sky (David Roberts) sings a few lines of "She's My Kind of Girl", a Björn & Benny song. In the 2015 International tour version, Sky (Justin Thomas) sings a few lines of "Dum Dum Diddle".
The wedding march that is played as Sophie walks down the aisle is a slower arrangement of "Dancing Queen".
The creators also intended to include "Just Like That", an unreleased ABBA song recorded in 1982. The song was apparently dropped just before the first public previews in March 1999, though it was listed in the program available during the preview period.
Originally the outro after the encore was a 5-minute instrumental medley (in the style of the Ouverture and Entr'Acte) featuring Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), SOS, Voulez-Vous, Does Your Mother Know, Money, Money, Money and Dancing Queen. It was later replaced with the short Dancing Queen instrumental, still being used today.
The last three songs, performed as an encore/finale by the whole cast are: "Mamma Mia", "Dancing Queen" and "Waterloo". The version of "Mamma Mia" used in the encore/finale is sung by the Company. The finale song Mamma Mia has been extended in theatres where Donna and the Dynamos had to go downstairs for taking the stage lift in Dancing Queen. Then, during the intro of "Dancing Queen", Donna, Tanya and Rosie join the Company (as the girl-power band "Donna and the Dynamos", wearing ABBA's 1970s-style colorful and flashy costumes). Sam, Bill and Harry join them during Waterloo, wearing male versions of the girls' ABBA's costumes. The Encore is included on the 5th Anniversary Cast Recording (commemorating said anniversary for the Broadway production).
In the Brazilian production, all three songs from the encore/finale were kept in English. Though "Waterloo" was adapted into Brazilian Portuguese, this version was never used and the lyrics are unknown.
In the Russian production the song "Happy New Year" is sung at the encore on New Year holidays shows.
Mamma Mia! was adapted as a film, produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, written by Catherine Johnson directed by Phyllida Lloyd and with Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson as executive producers. Meryl Streep stars as Donna Sheridan and Amanda Seyfried as Sophie and Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael. The movie also features Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Julie Walters. It premiered July 18, 2008, in the US. Most of the songs remained intact with the exceptions of "Under Attack", "One of Us", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", and "Thank You for the Music". "Knowing Me, Knowing You" was used as the wedding music and "Thank You for the Music" is sung during the second half of the end credits. The first half is occupied with a "Dancing Queen" reprise and "Waterloo", with a "Mamma Mia" reprise and "I Have a Dream" sung before the credits (though the latter is sung as Sophie mails the invitations at the start of the film). "When All Is Said and Done", a song not used in the musical, was added for the film sung by Sam, Donna, and the company. "Our Last Summer" was used earlier in the movie, with Sophie, Bill, Sam, and Harry singing it. "The Name of the Game", while filmed, was subsequently edited out of the film for the final cut. The song is included in full on the motion picture soundtrack - an abbreviated version of the song and scene appear on the DVD/Blu-ray as a supplement. In addition, "Thank You for the Music" is used as a hidden track, and is performed by Amanda Seyfried.
On any given day, there are at least seven performances of Mamma Mia! being performed around the globe. On May 15, 2005, Mamma Mia! surpassed the original Broadway runs of The Sound of Music, The King and I, and Damn Yankees with 1,500 performances. On March 6, 2014, it surpassed Rent to become the 9th longest-running Broadway musical of all time with 5,124 performances. Later that year, it surpassed Beauty and the Beast to become Broadway's eighth longest-running show on Broadway. When Mamma Mia! opened in Russia, it received a very positive response. As of January 2008, Mamma Mia! became the longest daily running show in the history of Russian theatre.