Tickets for Mamma Mia! At the Prince of Wales Theatre
Musical with music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, book by Catherine Johnson. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony van Laast and production designs by Mark Thompson.
ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus is one of the producers of this £3 million show, which weaves 27 ABBA songs like Dancing Queen, Take A Chance On Me, Knowing Me Knowing You and Money Money Money into a story about a mother and daughter preparing for the daughter's wedding.
Björn said: "This idea has been talked about for several years but it was only when I was with my wife and kids at the West End production of Grease that it struck me we could do it. I thought that if we could make it like that, with a proper story where the songs come into the story naturally, it could be family entertainment. There is so little of that and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to do it."
He added: "Those lyrics of ours were always about relationships and they were little stories within themselves. Twenty five years ago I didn't have a clue anything like this would happen and I didn't even like musicals. We only did Eurovision because it was the only way for a Swedish group with ambitions to get heard outside Sweden. We were not a typical Eurovision group but we had to use that vehicle."
The story has been written by Catherine Johnson and is set on an unnamed Mediterranean island in the present day where Donna, a former wild child of the Seventies who now owns and runs a restaurant, is making preparations for her daughter Sophie's wedding. It contrasts the different values of a fortysomething woman of the Seventies and a twentysomething girl of the Nineties, using ABBA's songs as an uplifting soundtrack.
Björn's fellow producer Judy Craymer, who also worked with him on Chess, said: "It's very exciting because people have tried to bring Abba's song to the stage for long time and it has never been allowed to happen until now. It is fully endorsed and supported by Björn and Benny who feel that the time is right and the story is right, with the lyrics providing the underlying material to tell the story. And their music has always been very theatrical."
She stressed: "It is NOT a Seventies revival show. We hope it will cross all generations and all theatre-going audiences. There is a whole new generation of ABBA fans who were not even born when they first come to fame."
The show's director, Pyllida Lloyd, has her own take on the musical, regarding it as "a musical they wrote a few years ago but wanted to release a few singles first."
The Swedish pop group ABBA - Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni (or Freda) - were hugely successful in the late 1970's after winning the Eurovision song contest in 1974 with 'Waterloo'. Other UK Number One songs followed: 'Mamma Mia' (1975), 'Fernando' (1976), 'Dancing Queen' (1976), 'Knowing Me Knowing You' (1977), 'The Name Of The Game' (1977), 'Take A Chance On Me' (1978), 'The Winner Takes It All' (1980) and 'Super Trouper' (1980).