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‘Mamma Mia’ says goodbye to Toronto

Tuner's run surpassed only by 'Phantom'

TORONTO — Abba, dabba, done.

Producer Judy Craymer announced Thursday that the Toronto engagement of “Mamma Mia!” will end May 22, the fifth anniversary of the show’s record-breaking run at the Royal Alexandra Theater.

The Abba songfest’s Toronto record has been surpassed only by “The Phantom of the Opera’s” 10-year run from 1989-99.

“We were only planning to be there 26 weeks,” said Cramer, recalling how “Mamma Mia!’s” Canadian journey began, “but it just took off. When David Mirvish suggested a sit-down company, I remember wondering if we could really make it work.”

The show opened May 22, 2000, and was an instant hit in Hogtown. It has played to 2.8 million patrons with a total gross of more than $200 million and a trickle-down effect in excess of $1 billion on the local economy.

But like most events in Toronto, “Mamma Mia!” suffered from the SARS crisis of 2003 and even closed down for the summer, playing to sellout crowds in Vancouver instead.

When it reopened in fall 2003, audiences were never quite as strong as they had been. Craymer admitted the show has recently been performing at a loss.

“We want to continue to go out on a high,” she added. “We don’t want to limp away from Toronto because it was our first-born after London.”

The show is still playing to solid audiences on Broadway, Las Vegas and a national tour as well as engagements around the world, the most recent being the February opening in Stockholm.

In 2003, Mirvish announced the closing of “The Lion King” in Toronto, only to take down the notice and run for five months more when audience demand warranted it.

When asked if she would consider the same tactic with “Mamma Mia!,” Craymer cautiously said, “That all depends on public demand. We’ll have to see. The good of the show comes first. We want it to end as a celebration.”

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