Mamma Mia! (originally promoted as Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus' Mamma Mia!) is a musical, based on music from Swedish pop group ABBA. The idea for the play stems as far back as 1982 when British playwright Judy Craymer approached Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus about a story involving several songs by ABBA. It was the song "The Winner Takes It All" that convinced her that the songs could be used theatrically. In 1997 Craymer began work on the upcoming musical, commissioning British playwright Catherine Johnson and director Phyllida Lloyd. The musical then opened on April 6, 1999 in London. The play is known for being the acting debut of Irish-born Siobhán McCarthy, who played the character Donna Sheridan.
The play's success in the West End prompted Craymer to bring it over to the United States, and it would first play in Canada with actress Louise Pitre as the Donna character. The play would later become one of the highest grossing shows to play on Broadway in New York, NY, running in ninth place. By 2015 the show had played a total of 5,773 performances and closed that autumn. The musical would later be adapted by 50 countries on at least 6 continents. It would later be revived on the Holywood Bowl, with Jennifer Nettles portraying Donna. The musical officially retired after running from the span of 17 years, with its last performance in St. Louis, Missouri with a total of more than 4,000 performances.
The play would later be adapted by Craymer, Johnson and Lloyd for the big screen with financial backing from Universal Pictures and producer Gary Goetzman. The movie would open on July 18, 2008 in both the UK and the US. Starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. With a budget of $52 million, the movie managed to gross $615.7 million, and remains the highest grossing musical of Meryl Streep's film career. The on-going success of the film has inspired a sequel that opened in 2018, ten years after the original's premiere date.
Notes on the music
- 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.
- In the Russian production the song "Happy New Year" is sung at the encore on New Year holidays shows.