BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Mamma Mia! Here they go again

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Mamma Mia! Here they go again… Abba-themed stage show returns for limited run

Fans of Abba have been ‘blue since the day we parted’ from the mother of all popular musicals, Mamma Mia!

But — here we go again — take heart, because the show is returning, for a limited run, in the 100-acre grounds of one of the country’s grandest stately homes.

Judy Craymer, the brains behind the long-running hit, told me a full production of Mamma Mia! will play 23 performances on a specially erected stage, complete with giant sound system and spectacular lighting design, at Harewood House in Leeds, in August.

The producer said it would be the first opportunity for people to see the musical since its West End and touring versions closed in the UK a year ago.

Fans of Abba have been ‘blue since the day we parted’ from the mother of all popular musicals, Mamma Mia!

Craymer was feeling decidedly jubilant (it made me want to warble ‘there’s a fire within her soul’) when we talked yesterday.

‘It’s literally under the stars!’ she said of the show’s first full outdoor run, which will begin on August 12 with an invitation-only performance for NHS and key workers.

Craymer revealed the public can see it from August 13 until August 30; and she promised a ‘mega-mix extraordinaire’ finale, devised by choreographer Anthony Van Laast, guaranteed to get people dancing.

The show will be able to cater for 1,800 people per performance. ‘We are socially distanced, by the nature of the event,’ Craymer said.

Judy Craymer (pictured), the brains behind the long-running hit, told me a full production of Mamma Mia! will play 23 performances on a specially erected stage, complete with giant sound system and spectacular lighting design, at Harewood House in Leeds, in August

Audiences can arrive early, tuck into a varied menu of picnic boxes, sit on seats (or a Mamma Mia!-themed rug) and ‘enjoy a drink and then watch the show’, though no food will be allowed once it starts.

The production will star Sara Poyzer as heroine Donna Sheridan. Poyzer’s husband Richard Standing has been cast alongside her, to play Sam, one of Donna’s former suitors.

‘They have done that before,’ Craymer told me. ‘I used to laugh and think: what goes through their minds when she bellows Winner Takes It All?!’

The cast will be formed from members of the UK and international touring troupe, who were playing at Hull’s New Theatre last March when it was forced to shut down because of Covid restrictions.

The producer said it would be the first opportunity for people to see the musical since its West End and touring versions closed in the UK a year ago

The production will star Sara Poyzer (pictured) as heroine Donna Sheridan. Poyzer’s husband Richard Standing has been cast alongside her, to play Sam, one of Donna’s former suitors

Helen Anker and Nicky Swift will play the Dynamos with Poyzer; Daniel Crowder and Jamie Kenna play Donna’s other former beaus.

By the time Mamma Mia! opens at the 18th-century Palladian pile, Craymer said most people would have had the Covid vaccine — including the cast, musicians, technicians and the front of house and backstage crews.

She’s considering filming the Harewood House show, though she ruled out streaming it.

The stately home experiment is one she’d like to repeat next year. ‘There are some wonderful places to be able to do it . . . like Blenheim, for instance.’

Craymer revealed that the musical would re-open at the Novello Theatre in London, with Mazz Murray as Donna and Emma Mullen as Sophie, possibly as early as September — without social distancing.

‘We can’t play to 50 per cent capacity,’ she told me. ‘We’re on our knees; big and small producers.’

Oh, yes, and the Mamma Mia! 3 movie, which I revealed last June, is bubbling away in development.

Tickets £39.50-£75.50, on sale from March 19, mamma-mia.com/harewood-house.

DERREN ADDS MAGIC TO THE INVISIBLE MAN

Whoosh . . . he’s gone! Derren Brown, the award-winning mentalist and illusionist, is disappearing into his bag of tricks to create an immersive production of The Invisible Man, based — very loosely — on the H.G. Wells book.

Brown has been developing the show for 18 months, and has been joined by playwright and author Barney Norris who will write the script. And just to stress: Brown won’t be in it.

Iain Gillie, its producer, along with Peter Wilson (a driving force behind The Woman In Black), assured me there’ll be ‘invisibility in front of your face’ in the show, which plans to open at a non-traditional theatre space in London in autumn 2022.

Gillie observed that ‘Derren’s brilliant at the showmanship aspect of performance’.

Brown’s tricks — which often leave audiences gasping — will begin when people buy their tickets (they’re not on sale yet!). ‘The show has sort of started the moment you book,’ Gillie said mysteriously. ‘Very Derren Brown-ish.’

He said Brown was approached as they wanted someone ‘left field’ to re-imagine The Invisible Man as a modern thriller. ‘We need to do stuff a young audience will find exciting enough to spend their money on,’ he said. ‘Younger generations are keener than older ones to get their money’s worth — and they need that buzz.’

Keep updated at derrenbrown.co.uk.

Derren Brown (pictured), the award-winning mentalist and illusionist, is disappearing into his bag of tricks to create an immersive production of The Invisible Man, based — very loosely — on the H.G. Wells book

Musical The Prince Of Egypt has pulled off a little miracle — the show will re-open at London’s Dominion Theatre on July 1.

Owing to the venue’s enormous 2000-plus capacity, it can spread out the audience so that they are able to socially distance.

Based on the 1998 animated film (and the Book of Exodus), the musical — which stars Luke Brady, Liam Tamne, Christine Allado, Alexia Khadime and Debbie Kurup — is about the rivalry between Moses and Ramses.

Musical The Prince Of Egypt has pulled off a little miracle — the show will re-open at London’s Dominion Theatre on July 1

Owing to the venue’s enormous 2000-plus capacity, it can spread out the audience so that they are able to socially distance

Several other performances, such as Les Miserables: The Staged Concert, will resume from May 20. But the lack of Covid insurance is a big problem for producers.

As Cameron Mackintosh noted: ‘We plough through the treacle of what coming out of lockdown means.’

Tickets for The Prince Of Egypt go on sale from noon today at theprinceofegyptmusical.com.

Based on the 1998 animated film (and the Book of Exodus), the musical — which stars Luke Brady, Liam Tamne, Christine Allado, Alexia Khadime and Debbie Kurup — is about the rivalry between Moses and Ramses

Several other performances, such as Les Miserables: The Staged Concert, will resume from May 20. But the lack of Covid insurance is a big problem for producers

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