Show History



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, on 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.  Though 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 on 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.  One of the most popular shows on the Great White Way, it is still being performed to this day, though it transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre for performances starting November 2, 2013.

The first North American tour started in Providence, Rhode Island in February 2002, and, like the London and Broadway productions, still runs to this day.  Mamma Mia! premiered in Las Vegas at the Mandelay Bay on February 2003, running until January 2009.  Though the designs are being used for productions in Brazil, the show plans to return in Las Vegas in 2014.

Mamma Mia! has been performed in more than 40 countries across five continents, including:  Arab Emrites, Belgium, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa.  The first non-English production started in Hamburg, Germany on November 3, 2002.  Many international tours have run over the past ten years, though the one currently running started in Dublin on September 9, 2004.

Cultural Influence

  • 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.
  • The Broadway production is currently 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 three women (producer Judy Craymer, book writer Catherine Johnson, and director Phyllida Lloyd) collaborated on 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 at 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.