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University of Iowa News Release

March 16, 2006

ABBA Musical 'Mamma Mia!' Returns To Hancher April 4-9

"Mamma Mia!", the world's number-one musical, featuring 20 of ABBA's best-known songs, will return to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium by popular demand for eight more performances: at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, April 4-7, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 8 and 9.

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 Bjorn 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 Bjorn 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, and that production will celebrate its seventh birthday during the show's run in Hancher. In addition to the North American tour coming to Hancher and continuing long runs in Las Vegas and on Broadway, the show is playing through Europe and Asia, and in South Africa.

The "World's No. 1 Show" claim is not hype: More productions of "Mamma Mia!" are playing simultaneously than any other musical. The Hancher performances will add to the National Tour's totals of more than 3,200 performances in nearly 100 different cities (with 44 repeat visits).

"We really had no idea how it was going to be received," Craymer says, "The audience went wild. They were literally out of their seats and singing and dancing in the aisles -- and they still are. Every night."

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:

Oaknoll Retirement Residence; Hartwig Motors, inc.; Iowa State Bank and Trust Company; Meardon, Sueppel and Downer PLC; Shive-Hattery, inc.; and the Sheraton Iowa City Hotel are the corporate  sponsors of the Hancher "Mamma Mia!" performances, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday evening performances are $60/50/40; UI student and youth $54/45/36; senior citizen $60/50/40. Remaining tickets for Friday evening, both Saturday performances and the Sunday matinee are $55/45.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. 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