Mamma Mia! is based on the songs of ABBA. ABBA was a Swedish pop/dance group active from 1972–1982 and was one of the most internationally popular pop groups of all time, topping the charts again and again in Europe, North 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. It is unusual for three women to form the collaboration behind a commercial success in musical theatre.
Original London production
The musical opened in the West End at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999 and transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre on 9 June 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.
It opened in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on 23 May 2000, directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast, with the production designed by Mark Thompson and lighting by Howard Harrison. It closed on 22 May 2005.
Original Broadway production
Prior to the musical's Broadway engagement, it made its US debut in San Francisco, California at the Orpheum Theatre from 17 November 2000 to 17 February 2001, moving next to Los Angeles, California at the Shubert Theatre from 26 February 2001 to 12 May 2001, and finally to Chicago, Illinois at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from 13 May 2001 to 12 August 2001. The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on 18 October 2001 and is currently running, as of 2013. The director is Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast. It is currently the tenth longest-running Broadway show. On April 18th, 2013 it was announced that Mamma Mia would transfer from its current home at the Winter Garden Theatre to Broadhurst Theatre in late 2013.
Las Vegas production
In the United States, Mamma Mia! played in Las Vegas, opening at the Mandalay Bay on February 2003 and closed 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.
Mamma Mia has a North American Tour, Spanish Tour, Dutch tour, South African tour, Japanese tour, Korean tour and an International Tour. The US tour started in Providence, Rhode Island in 2002, and has since played more than 120 cities as of its 6th anniversary in 2008. The 10th anniversary Australian Tour has just finished its run in Brisbane. There was also an Australasian Tour from 2001–2005, and a Dutch tour in 2009 - 2010. The International Tour has visited Dublin, Edinburgh, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Estonia, Lisbon, Brussels, Paris, Cologne, Oberhausen, Munich, Erfurt, Vienna, Liepzig, Frankfurt, Zurich, Berlin, Vienna, Belfast, Edinburgh, Pretoria, Manchester, Doha, Dubai, Copenhagen, Riga, Helsinki, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Bristol, Vilnius, Horsens, Glasgow, Athens, Monte Carlo, Paris, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Turku, Helsinki, Istanbul, Malmo, Kuala Lumpur, Vienna, Milan, Geneva, Trieste, Florence, Aalborg, Forli, Lisbon, Bangkok, Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, Taiwan, Newcastle, Baden Baden, Hanover, Munich, Nurnburg, Graz, Basel, Liverpool, Belgrade, Cork and Linkoping.
The South African tour, conducted at the Artscape Theatre, Cape Town (11 August 2010) and 3 months later at The Teatro, Montecasino in Johannesburg, featured an all local cast.
On 24 January 2012, Mamma Mia! opened in Manila at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The show was originally set to stay only for a week but with the positive response, the organisers decided that it would play until 19 February 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).
As of 2012, the musical has been performed in sixteen languages: English, German, Norwegian, Japanese, Dutch, Flemish, Korean, Spanish, Swedish and Russian, French, Danish, Italian, Portuguese Indonesian and Chinese. In addition to the tours, the show has had (and in some cases, still has) permanent productions in London, Toronto, New York, Hamburg, Rome, Tokyo, Utrecht, Las Vegas, Seoul, Stuttgart, Essen, Madrid, Osaka, Daegu, Stockholm, Antwerp, Moscow, Seongnam, Gothenburg, Fukuoka, Berlin, Barcelona, Nagoya, Mexico, Milan, Puerto la Cruz (Venezuela) and Brazil. Lone van Roosendaal has played Donna in three different countries and in three different languages: English, Dutch (understudy) and German. Jackie Clune has played Donna in the International Tour cast.
The Chinese production of Mamma Mia! debuts on July 10, 2011 in Shanghai Grand Theater and has already run 200 shows for the first season with Shadow Zen leading the role of Donna Sheridan.