Mamma bloody Mia! | 20 November 2003
When the Mamma Mia! musical premiered in London's Prince Edward theatre on 6 April 1999, I was one of the people in the audience. I liked the show, but I liked the appearance of Björn and Benny on stage even more. It was an exciting evening and looking back it was in fact a historical evening. Almost 5 years later more than 10 million people have seen the show. And probably a couple of million people more will do so in the coming months and years.
When Björn and Benny started work on the musical, it turned out that particularly Björn was the former ABBA member that was involved. He helped in every way he could. He provided the arrangements, had to listen to the original tracks again to get the proper words or the proper music for the various instruments and much more. In fact it is more a Björn project than an ABBA project.
Yes, Frida and Benny have been to some international premieres, but it mainly was Björn who did the work. And credit where credit is due, he has done a fantastic job. His commercial talents and communication skills has helped lots of local producers. Zillions of interviews and appearances later, Mamma Mia! is the most successful musical ever with music by Björn and Benny.
And to be honest, that's a bit sad. Chess and later Kristina have been written especially with the theatre in mind. And although Kristina has attracted a large number of visitors in Sweden, nobody can deny that Mamma Mia! is THE true money maker.
Recently the Dutch version premiered and it proves to be a smash hit in The Netherlands. And it's not over yet for Mamma Mia! because more foreign language versions will appear in the future. Is that good news for ABBA fans? Hardly!
More likely than ever, Björn will get even more involved in the translation and promotion of the musical. And that distracts from other B&B projects like the eagerly awaited English version of Kristina, or other new projects.
It would not surprise me when Mamma Mia! outlives the actual existence of the group ABBA. The musical could very well become 10 years of age.
That is a big commercial success, but I'd rather have new and interesting projects than rehashing old hits
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