Colourful and punchy and guaranteed to raise a smile at the seaside this month is one of ABBA’s most popular musicals.
Twenty-three years after its first viewing at the Prince Edward Theatre in London, the show is set to hit the stage at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens Opera House from this Tuesday, 21st March to Saturday, 1st April 2023.
So far it has been seen by more than 65 million people worldwide in 50 productions and in 16 languages and just gets better with every performance.
With ticket prices from £20, the Blackpool performances will run nightly at 7:30pm, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2:30pm.
The show was created by producer Judy Craymer and ahead of the Blackpool performance, she told London based arts writer Sam Marlowe, about the original show.
“A lot of people doubted us. The Lion King opened about the same time, and we were very modest by comparison. Many were expecting a kind of ABBA tribute show about the band – they just couldn’t get their heads around it. They were constantly asking me who was going to play Frida and Agnetha.”
Even ABBA songsmiths Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus had their doubts.
“They said, OK Judy, it’ll be a small show, just in London, and if it doesn’t work it’ll close.”
They needn’t have worried. Together with writer Catherine Johnson and director Phyllida Lloyd, Craymer had achieved a landmark theatrical triumph with blockbuster, cross-generational appeal, that would delight Abba’s loyal fans and win them legions of new ones.
The female-led show full of joyous romance and fierce mother-daughter affection is an exuberant matrimonial comedy set on an idyllic Greek island, with a playful nod to the family dramas of classical tragedy. It’s the strength of that narrative, Craymer believes, that sets MAMMA MIA! apart from other jukebox shows. She says:
“It’s an original story, and there’s a structure, and properly developed characters and themes. I do like to think that MAMMA MIA! raised the bar.
“Over the last 20 years, there have been so many white-knuckle rides. As a producer, you need enormous powers of persuasion, and a lot of tenacity.”
And she’s still up for more: even during the 2020 lockdown, she was busily planning for a third MAMMA MIA! movie.
“I wanted something to cheer us all up! It’s something I have in my sights. I think there’s a trilogy there. There are lots of wonderful ABBA songs that we haven’t yet mined, and Björn and Benny have written a couple of new ones. They’re keeping them under wraps for now, but they should prove very useful!”
In the meantime, she’s looking forward to MAMMA MIA! touring the UK again.
“I’m really excited that we are taking MAMMA MIA! on tour around the UK once again, visiting Blackpool. We look forward to welcoming new audiences, as well as those that have seen it before.”
For ticket availability, please visit: www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.
Photographs courtesy of Brinkhoff-Moegenburg