Tuesday, October 18, 2011

broadway birthday Mamma Mia opened on Broadway 10 years ago today

Mamma Mia! opened on Broadway 10 years ago today.  After a hugely successful London production which was followed by a Toronto run and a pre-Broadway tour, the show arrived at the Winter Garden theatre and started previews on October 5th, 2001, just a few weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks. I guess the feel good nature of this show was what New York needed at that moment and still does as it just became the 10th longest running show in Broadway history last month and has now played over 4,100 performances.

The plot of Mamma Mia! is fairly simple, a young girl in Greece is engaged to be married but doesn't know exactly whom her father is.  She knows her mother dated three different guys around the time she was conceived, so she invites all three of them to the wedding, without her Mother's knowledge, in hopes to find out who her father is and hopefully rekindle his feelings for her mother.  Hilarity and dancing ensue, to the thumping beat of over 20 Abba songs, before the happy conclusion.

Now I never saw the show on Broadway but did see it in London before it came to New York and I never got what all of the excitement was about this show.  To me it just felt like a lot of familiar pop songs shoe horned into a very basic plot.  I mean, lead- ins to songs like "didn't they used to call you 'dancing queen'?" or "Chiguitita tell me what's wrong?" when there is no one named Chiquitita in the cast are just two examples of how to get two of Abba's biggest songs (Dancing Queen and Chiquitita) incorporated into the story.  But I guess the upbeat plot, the feel good nature and the fact that you pretty much know more than half of the songs in the show already are what has propelled this show to the hit that it is.  And it isn't just a hit in New York or London (where it is also still running) but it has also spawned productions in sixteen languages in just about every country around the world, even in places like Osaka and Moscow.

Phyllida Lloyd directed the musical as well as the 2008 film adaptation.  And I do like the film adaptation, maybe because of the use of actual Greek locations for some of the film as well as Meryl Streep's take on Donna, the mother of the bride.  Streep can pretty much do anything and she proves it here.  The movie also features Amanda Seyfried as the daughter Sophie with Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård as the three potential fathers, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Streep's two best friends and Dominic Cooper as Sophie's fiance.  The movie was a huge hit as well.  So while I might not seem much of a fan of the musical I am of the movie.

So Happy 10th Birthday Mamma Mia!, get your dancing queen on and party it up tonight!

Broadway 10th Anniversary video -

Movie Trailer -

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