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Abba tuner goes B’way

Tour preems in San Francisco before hitting Gotham

NEW YORK — “Mamma Mia!,” the Abba musical that has taken London and, more recently, Toronto by storm, will bow on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater on Oct. 18, 2001.

Tuner, which wraps a book by Catherine Johnson around 22 of the Swedish pop group’s best-known tunes, opened in London in April 1999 and became a box office sensation. The Toronto production, which opened in May, has also been a constant sellout.

Unusually, the show is planning a lengthy U.S. tour before arriving on Broadway. Producers Judy Craymer, Richard East and Bjorn Ulvaeus for Littlestar clearly think the show has made enough of a splash to hit the hinterlands without the imprimatur of Broadway success. They may also be cautious about Gotham’s critical response: In a recent New York Times feature on London theater, Times critic Ben Brantley labeled the show “endearingly clunky.”

The U.S. tour preems in San Francisco at the Orpheum on Nov. 15. Other cities include Los Angeles (from Feb. 22) and Chicago (May 18). An Oz production will open in Melbourne in mid-2001.

The Shubert Organization’s Winter Garden will undergo a refurbishment before the show’s arrival, following the exit of the long-running “Cats,” which plays its last performance on Sunday after an 18-year run.

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