It is 15 years since Mamma Mia! first premiered, in London’s West End, on 6 April 1999 and last night Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, together with the musical’s co-creators Judy Cramer (producer), Catherine Johnson (writer) and Phyllida Lloyd (director), celebrated the show’s milestone at the biggest event in the UK theatre calendar, The Olivier Awards.
During the prestigious ceremony, held at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, Benny and Björn presented the prize for the category ‘Best Musical’ which this year went to, The Book Of Mormon.
Then, to the delight of the 2000 invited guests, the duo reappeared on stage with their accordion and guitar, to lead the current London cast of Mamma Mia! in the evenings finale – a live performance of the ABBA classic, Thank You For The Music.
The star studded audience were also treated to cast performances of Dancing Queen and, of course, Mamma Mia!
Over 54 million people worldwide have now seen a production of Mamma Mia! and on the red carpet ahead of yesterday’s award ceremony, Benny and Björn were asked if they ever thought that the show would remain successful for so long?
“Absolutely not,” Björn replied, I thought it would maybe last a year. At a small theatre off the West End.”
“Or maybe a week,” said Benny, laughing.
“So it’s absolutely fantastic,” Björn continued.
And what is the secret to Mamma Mia!’s success? What does it have that other musicals don’t?
“The music. And the lyrics,” Benny responded without hesitation. “And the book. It is really thanks to Catherine Johnson’s script that it works,” he concluded.
Highlights from the award ceremony, including Benny and Björn’s performances, as well as performances from, The Book Of Mormon, Les Miserables, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Matilda The Musical, Phantom Of The Opera and Wicked, were broadcast on ITV and the programme is available to view again on ITV Player until 13 May 2014.
- ITV Player – Highlights from the 2014 Olivier Awards
- Olivier Awards – Official website
- Mamma Mia! – Official website
- ABBA duo set to perform – BBC News article including interview with Benny and Björn