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Mamma Mia! by the numbers
- Kelly Apter
- 28 November 2016
How Mamma Mia! became an enduring musical phenomenon
Featuring songs by 1970s and 80s chart toppers Abba, hit musical Mamma Mia! has been winning over crowds in venues across the world for almost two decades. As the show arrives back in Edinburgh on its current UK tour, we take a look at the numbers that add up to success …
3 – The number of men young bride-to-be Sophie invites to her Greek island home at the start of the show, to work out which one is her father. Twenty years earlier, her mum Donna had dalliances with Sam, Bill and Harry all in the same month – making Mamma Mia! something of a 'who done it?'.
15 – That's how many years it took producer Judy Craymer to bring the show to the stage. Struck by the narrative potential of 'The Winner Takes it All', Craymer first suggested the idea of a stage musical to Abba songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson in 1983. The duo were sceptical at first but open to persuasion – thankfully, Craymer didn't give up.
16 – Between 1974 and 1983, Abba had no less than 18 Top Ten singles in the UK charts – 16 of which made it into Mamma Mia!. The show features an impressive seven Number One singles: 'Dancing Queen', 'Super Trouper', 'Name of the Game', 'Mamma Mia', 'Knowing Me Knowing You', 'The Winner Takes it All' and 'Take a Chance on Me'.
17 – Since opening at the Prince Edward Theatre in London's West End on 6 April 1999, Mamma Mia! has been running – in one venue or another – for 17 years. It is the 8th longest running show in West End history and, coincidentally, was the 8th longest running show on Broadway when it closed in 2015. So it must be doing something right.
21 – Back in the day, Abba impressed everyone by writing so eloquently in English, when their native language is Swedish. Since then, however, the songs have been translated into 21 languages for productions of Mamma Mia! around the world, including Korean, Mandarin, Russian and Icelandic. Original cast recordings of the show have been released in seven different languages.
23 – That's how many Abba songs appear in the show, cleverly pieced together to move the narrative along. Some are upbeat and fun ('Dancing Queen', 'Lay All Your Love on Me', 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!', 'Under Attack') and some will have you reaching for the tissues ('Slipping Through My Fingers', 'The Winner Takes it All').
40 – Like Abba themselves, Mamma Mia! has been embraced by audiences across the globe. So far, productions have toured to, or had long residencies in, over 40 countries including Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Qatar, China and much of Europe.
60 million – An estimated 60 million people have seen Mamma Mia! since the show started. With that number set to rise as crowds head to Edinburgh Playhouse this Christmas, to welcome the show back to Scotland for the first time in 12 years.
Mamma Mia!, Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue 29 Nov–Sat 7 Jan 2017.