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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 21, 2003

ABBA Hit Musical "Mamma Mia!" Comes To Hancher Dec. 9-14

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
"Mamma Mia!", the international hit musical featuring 20 of ABBA's best-known songs, will come to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium for eight performances: at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Dec. 9-12, and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14.

This feel-good story focuses on a mother confronting her past as three men return to the Greek island they've not visited for 21 years just as her 20-year-old daughter is about to be married. The complications of this potential disaster lead to one of the most memorable weddings in theatrical history.

Producer Judy Craymer, who previously worked with ABBA composers Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus in the development of the musical "Chess," was convinced that there was a musical to be created featuring ABBA songs. The greatest challenge was finding a story strong enough to carry it off.

Ultimately it was the award-winning British playwright Catherine Johnson who created the story that captured the imaginations of Craymer and her producing partners Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus. The lyrics to each chosen ABBA song glided effortlessly into Johnson's funny and poignant tale of family and friendship set on a mythical Greek island.

When director Phyllida Lloyd, renowned for her work at England's Royal National Theatre and international opera productions, came on board the project gathered further momentum.

"Mamma Mia!" was an instant hit in its London debut, where not a single ticket has gone unsold for the past five years. This summer, the show topped the 10-million mark in international attendance, and the U.S. tour is one of 11 productions packing in audiences around the globe.

Advance sales suggest that "Mamma Mia" is poised to become the biggest hit of the 2003-04 Hancher season.

The American critics have been virtually unanimous in their embrace of "Mamma Mia!" Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called the show "Perhaps the single most ecstatic musical to open on Broadway since 'A Chorus Line'! 'Mamma Mia!' leaves you uplifted, enraptured and feeling like a number one!"

T.R. Reid of the Washington Post wrote that the show is "Fabulous, funny and endlessly clever; it brilliantly weaves those familiar ABBA songs into the plot. If you can get a ticket, you'll love it!"

And veteran New York Post critic Clive Barnes advised, "Just sit back and let the joy flow over you."

Learn more about the show at its website:

Everybody's Whole Foods and Oaknoll Retirement Residence are the corporate sponsors of the Hancher "Mamma Mia!" performances, through the University of Iowa Foundation, with media support from KHAK-FM/KDAT-FM/KRNA-FM.

Remaining tickets for "Mamma Mia!" are $50/40 (UI student and youth $45/36) for the Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday evening performances. For the Friday evening performance, both Saturday performances and the Sunday matinee, all remaining tickets are $55/45. (Zone 1 is sold out for all performances, but Zone 2 and Zone 3 tickets remain available.)

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

PHOTOS are available at