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September 18, 2014

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THEATER:

Last call for ‘Mamma Mia!’

Image

Steve Marcus / FILE PHOTO

Donna Sheridan, center, (played then by Tina Walsh) sings during a dress rehearsal of the musical “Mamma Mia!” at Mandalay Bay. Bill Austin (played then by Mark Leydorf), left, and Sam Carmichael (played then by Nick Cokas) are two of Donna’s three former boyfriends.

Mamma Mia!

With the major motion picture opening, the Vegas cast of Mamma Mia! reflects on what it thinks about the movie and the production's future.

IF YOU GO

What: “Mamma Mia!”

When: 7:30 p.m. today through Thursday, 6 and 10 p.m. Saturdays. Final performance 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Mandalay Bay

Tickets: $45 to $100; 632-7580, www.mandalaybay.com

Beyond the Sun

Tears of joy and sorrow will flow freely when the final curtain closes on “Mamma Mia!” Sunday.

With a run of almost six years at Mandalay Bay, the ABBA musical is the most successful Broadway show to play Vegas.

“There will be a lot of tears,” producer Judy Craymer says from London. “It will be an emotional night.”

For the optimistic, “Mamma Mia!” may not be closing but merely going on hiatus. It could return one day at a different venue.

“The door is not closed,” Craymer says. “Oh my God no. Vegas is such a great city to be a part of. We never say never.

“We had always planned to end on a high, so to speak. We would rather leave in demand rather than be closed by demand.”

The production is going out on top, with fans continuing to fill the 1,700-seat theater despite tough economic times — or perhaps because of tough economic times.

“It’s a show that brings a lot of cheer,” Craymer says.

More than 1 million people have attended the 2,300 or so performances of the musical, which will be replaced by “The Lion King” in April.

Coincidentally, “Mamma Mia!” closes one week before the Golden Globes ceremony, where the film version is nominated for best motion picture — comedy or musical, and Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress. The movie also stars Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried.

Although the Vegas production is closing, the world still is full of “Mamma Mia!” with productions in more than a dozen cities, including one entering its 10 year in London’s West End and another in its eighth year on Broadway. There also are touring companies.

Craymer says she was surprised by the show’s success in Vegas.

“I never imagined we would be there as long as we have been,” she says. “It’s rather marvelous.”

According to Craymer, the show is not being closed because of declining numbers or the state of the economy.

“For us it was producing and creativity coming to the end of a cycle,” she says. “We were thrilled to have such a successful show, one that had such life to it. We kind of beat the path for Broadway coming into Vegas.”

The Vegas production of “Mamma Mia!” was the full-length Broadway version, complete with intermission, which is almost unheard of a city where 90 minutes is about the attention span of gaming-driven casino patrons.

“I remember years ago people being kind of doubtful. But we were never going to make it a 90-minute special, it was always intended to be the full Broadway show. That’s what sustained us and made us attractive to the audiences.”

Fans of the Vegas show should not give up hope. The Toronto and Australian productions closed in 2005 after five years. Producers are now talking about reviving those companies. Maybe after the passage of time, the show will return to Vegas.

“It has gone so fast,” Craymer says. “It’s kind of heartbreaking, really. We aren’t going to be seeing the people we sort of take for granted.”

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