The real ’70s show

'Mamma Mia!' What a theater launch!

HOLLYWOOD — With the most glittery L.A. theater launch since “The Lion King’s” five months ago (red carpet, film crews, after-party at a tent-expanded Century Club), “Mamma Mia!” opened Monday at the Shubert.

At the after-party, the godfather of L.A. theater, Gordon Davidson, praised the production for “not sending it up. They play it for its theatricality, and it touches people. It’s honest.”

Though the show’s essence is its Abba songs, producer Judy Craymer stressed the importance of the story. “There’s a lot of people trying to do a musical around a catalog of pop songs. It’s not as easy as you think.”

Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of Abba’s “Bs,” said there’s been interest from U (whose music division underwrote the party) to make a film based on the show, “but I’m not sure I want to do that. I might be old-fashioned, but I think a musical might have a longer life without becoming a movie.”

One veteran of a mega-successful Hollywoodized musical, Olivia Newton-John, said she’d been asked to star in a production of the show but declined. “I’m too lazy,” said the “Grease” star. “You have to do eight performances a week. They’re better at it than me.”

Among those celebrating the opening were stars Louise Pitre, Gary Lynch and Tina Maddigan plus guests Richard Carpenter, Dick Clark, Sandy Gallin, Bill Haber, Dan Jinks, Lynda Keeler, Alan Ladd Jr., Eric McCormack and JoAnne Worley.

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