“Mamma mia, here [we] go again/My my, how can [we] resist you?” The North American “farewell tour” of the global musical sensation Mamma Mia! is returning to the Durham Performing Arts Center for five high-octane performances on May 5-7. This 1999 West End and 2001 Broadway mega-hit, which features a book by Catherine Johnson and a score of more than twenty 1970s and 1980s pop songs from the Swedish super-group ABBA, made its DPAC debut on Jan. 26-31, 2010 and returned for an encore engagement on May 30-June 1, 2014.
ABBA — which combines the first letters of the Christian names of Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — rocketed to international stardom on April 6, 1974, in Brighton, England, when the group won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo.” Some of the group’s other chart-toppers, on both sides of the Atlantic, include “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). Rolling Stone writer Joe Levy claimed, “ABBA had a gift for melody so prodigious they couldn’t stop themselves.”
Librettist Catherine Johnson set her mother-daughter story in the present, on an unnamed Greek Island, on the eve of the daughter’s wedding. Fortyish single mother Donna Sheridan (played by Betsy Padamonsky in the current North American Tour) runs the local taverna. As Donna prepares for the wedding of her twentysomething daughter Sophie (Lizzie Markson) to her dashing boyfriend Sky (Dustin Harris Smith), Sophie begins to question her about her father’s identity. Donna, who was something of a wild child when Sophie was conceived in the 1970s, doesn’t know who fathered Sophie. But she can narrow it down to three old flames ignited during one magic summer of love. Meanwhile, Sophie, who has learned the men’s identities from clandestine peeks at her mother’s diary, has invited all three men to her wedding — and for one unforgettable weekend in which the men will get the surprise of their lives!
The three men from Donna’s past who could be Sophie’s dad are plucky Australian outdoors writer Bill Austin (Mark Cornes), stuffy British banker Harry “Head Banger” Bright (Andrew Tebo), and soulful American architect Sam Carmichael (Shai Yammanee). Cashelle Butler and Sarah Smith co-star as Tanya and Rosie, Donna’s best friends and former band mates in Donna and the Dynamos.
(Former ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus once told the Albemarle of London West End Theatre Guide: “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….”)
Featured players on the current North American tour include Niki Badua as Lisa, Max Ehrlich as Eddie, Chloe Kounadis as Ali, and Austin Michael as Pepper. The Ensemble includes Joshua Taylor Hamilton, Cori Cable Kidder, Matthew Janisse, Marcus John, Gabriella Marchion, Luke Monday, Catherine Nickerson, Alicia Osborn, Carlina Parker, Yael Reich, Alex Sheets, Julia Cassandra Smith, Ian Taylor, and Brian Whitehill; and Swings include Kylie Brunngraber, Juan Guillen, Danny Lopez, and Stephanie Inglese.
Phyllida Lloyd, who directed the West End and Broadway productions of Mamma Mia!, is also directing the current North American Tour. The rest of the tour’s creative team includes choreographer Anthony Van Laast, resident director Martha Banta, associate choregrapher Janet Rothermel, production stage manager Geneva Mattoon, production designer Mark Thompson, lighting designer Howard Harrison, sound designers Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken, and musical supervisor Martin Koch. Work Light Productions, LLC of Summit, NJ is the producer of the show, which was originally produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East, and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar Ltd., in association with Universal Music Group.
Mamma Mia! made its West End debut on April 6, 1999 in London’s Prince Edward Theatre, and transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre on June 9, 2004. Then in September 2012, the show moved to the Novello Theatre, where it is still playing.
Mamma Mia! made its Broadway debut on Oct. 18, 2001 at the Winter Garden Theatre; transferred to the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre on May 5, 2002; and returned to the Winter Garden Theatre on Jan. 1, 2007, before moving to the Broadhurst Theatre — where it closed on Sept. 12, 2015 after a combined total of 5,773 performances.
The First National Tour of Mamma Mia! commenced on Nov. 15, 2000 and ran through Aug. 29, 2004. The Second National Tour began on Feb 26, 2002 and continued through Aug. 26, 2012. Broadway Series South brought the show to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in March 2004, April 2006, and November 2007; and the tour stopped at DPAC on Jan. 26-31, 2010 and May 30-June 1, 2014.
According to DPAC, “Mamma Mia! is one of the most successful musicals of all time, the eighth-longest-running show in Broadway history and one of only five current musicals to have run for more than 10 years on Broadway. The West End production is now in its [18th] year. The international tour has visited more than 81 foreign cities in 37 countries. Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs from ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘S.O.S.‘ to ‘Money, Money, Money‘ and ‘Take a Chance on Me,’ Mamma Mia! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends and new family found.”
The show’s London website adds, “A Mother. A Daughter. 3 Possible Dads. And a Trip Down the Aisle You’ll Never Forget! Over 60 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good show! Writer Catherine Johnson’s sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, and every night everyone’s having the time of their lives!”
SECOND OPINION: May 5th Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment preview by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/05/mamma-mia-hits-the-dpac-stage-on-friday-may-5th/; May 3rd Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/mamma-mia/Event?oid=6074421; and April 25th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/entertainment/article146738304.html.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents MAMMA MIA! at 8 p.m. May 5, 2 and 8 p.m. May 6, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 7 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $35-$125. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), email@example.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1120969.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/mamma-mia-1 and https://www.facebook.com/events/148467875558806/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://mammamiaontour.com/mm/mamma-mia-media.asp.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/mamma-mia-and-chicago-return-in-encore-broadway-at-dpac.
THE TOUR: http://mammamiaontour.com/mm/, http://www.worklightproductions.com/current-work/mamma-mia https://www.facebook.com/mammamiaontour, and
TOUR CAST & CREATIVE TEAM: http://mammamiaontour.com/mm/mamma-mia-cast-creative.asp.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
ABBA (Swedish pop group, 1972-82): http://www.abbasite.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABBA (Wikipedia).
Mamma Mia! (1999 West End and 2001 Broadway musical): http://www.mamma-mia.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/mamma-mia-10610 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/MammaMiaMusical (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/MammaMiaMusical (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamma_Mia! (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://broadwayeducators.com/mamma-mia/ (Broadway Educators.com).
Mamma Mia! (2008 film): http://www.universalstudiosentertainment.com/mamma-mia-the-movie/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795421/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamma_Mia!_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Björn Ulvaeus (music and lyrics): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/bjrn-ulvaeus-12514 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0880744/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rn_Ulvaeus (Wikipedia).
Benny Andersson (music and lyrics): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/benny-andersson-11314 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0027630/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Andersson (Wikipedia).
Stig Anderson (lyrics): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/stig-anderson-90544 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0027832/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stig_Anderson (Wikipedia).
Catherine Johnson (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/catherine-johnson-84809 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0424735/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Johnson (Wikipedia).
Work Light Productions, LLC (tour producer): http://www.worklightproductions.com/ (official website).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)