Kirvin Doak Communications
Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 | 12:57 p.m.
Swedish pop group ABBA’s jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!” is still going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny. It’s still a monster hit around the world since its 1999 debut in London. It has played in more than 40 countries on five continents, including China, Brazil, South Africa and Korea and has been translated into 14 languages.
It ran here at Mandalay Bay for five years through January 2009 as one of the longest-running Broadway musicals in Las Vegas. The still-alive Broadway production celebrated its 5,000th performance two months ago. The 2008 hit movie musical starred Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried.
Now the impossible story of a mother, a daughter and three possible fathers and a trip down the wedding aisle on a Greek island paradise returns to Las Vegas. Not once but in two separate spandex-and-sparkle musicals.
Thus an intriguing tale behind the rival productions that pass each other by just a few weeks. Tonight, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts presents eight performances over five days of the national touring company’s musical comedy. Then in April, a “Mamma Mia!” residency begins at the Tropicana.
Producer Judy Craymer, who co-created “Mamma Mia!” with author Catherine Johnson from the music and lyrics of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABB, will fly here at the end of this month to prepare the Tropicana residency after the national touring company leaves town.
That show with its open-ended run will load in mid-April for a mid-May premiere. No word yet on casting or whether any of the artists from this week’s Smith Center run will be back.
For the moment, the focus is on the Smith Center show, which stars former Meat Loaf backup singer Georgia Kate Haege, an Australian pop star, in the lead role. On the official “Mamma Mia!” website, actor Mark Harmon (“St. Elsewhere,” “Chicago Hope,” “NCIS”) is listed as one of the three possible fathers in the U.S. and Canada touring show that began in October and runs through June 15, ending in Dallas.
They’ll be disco dancing in the aisles tonight at the normally sedate Reynolds Hall. After the Sunday double-header, the cast who arrived Monday from Phoenix moves onto Thousand Oaks, Calif., for another week run.
Thus, “Dancing Queen” once again rules supreme, so we “Thank You for the Music,” and although I don’t expect to see the now-never-to-be-reunited ABBA tonight, I’m really hoping that Benny, Bjorn and maybe Agnetha Faltskog and Frida Reuss might be there to make more “Money, Money, Money” at the May premiere at Tropicana.
“The Winner Takes It All” — in this case twice in the same year in the same city, and nobody else can claim that jackpot.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Tropicana Las Vegas sits on the south-east corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, an intersection which has the most adjacent hotel rooms in the world, also making it one of the most busy. The hotel has 1,658 rooms, three restaurants, a 62,011-square foot casino and a spa.