Mamma Mia!

The international touring version of the Abba musical phenomenon, one of an impressive ten productions currently playing around the world, has settled into Bristol with a largely new cast for the Christmas season. This is the 172nd city to host the show in one form or another, and the press night marked an emotional homecoming for Bristol author Catherine Johnson, whose very first play Rag Doll was performed 19 years ago by the Bristol Old Vic. At the time she was scraping by on a combined HTV/BOV playwriting award – now her work has been seen by more than 30 million people worldwide.

Producer Judy Craymer has obviously built the show around the song-writing genius of Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson – yet one of the strongest attractions of the dazzling entertainment remains down to the author. For, unlike a number of current West End musicals, this is in no sense whatsoever a tribute show. It is a warm hearted and delicious tale of a mother and daughter relationship, allied to the romance of love the second time around, which just happens to fit hand in glove with the familiar Abba lyrics.

Director Phyllida Lloyd is well aware that songs such as Knowing Me, Knowing You and The Winner Takes it All are there to advance and comment on the appealing story, and the attractive and hard-working new cast, headed by Hamburg-based Carolanne Weidle, make sure we are all dancing in the aisles as the curtain falls to the echo of Abba’s first ever hit Waterloo.

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Play description

Mamma Mia! (promoted as Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus’ Mamma Mia!) is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band.


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