Mamma Mia! Now they’ve gone again... My, my, how can we forget you?
Winter Gardens bosses are this morning celebrating Blackpool’s summer box office smash hit with ticket sales totalling more than £3.3m.
And more than 100,000 people came through the Opera House’s doors to see the show during its 12-week run which ended last night.
The international tour of the hit musical – based on the songs of Abba – has been declared a ‘great success’ as the cast and crew prepare to fly on to Honk Kong, their next destination.
Managing director of the Winter Gardens Michael Williams said: “Mamma Mia! has been a great success for Blackpool and we are delighted with the way it has been received.
“The show has been absolutely fantastic and our audiences have loved every minute.”
Many of the cast have spoken of their enjoyment at being in Blackpool – having made the most of their summer season in the resort.
Leading lady Sara Poyzer, who plays Donna Sheridan, said: “I’ve loved our time in Blackpool. The audiences have been warm and supportive... and big.
“I hope this is the beginning of summer season success for the town!”
Niamh Perry, who plays Sophie, added: “I’ve had an amazing time and I’m so grateful for the warm welcome we have received here.”
Meanwhile, for local lad Ashley Luke Lloyd, who plays Eddie, being part of something bringing such a buzz to his home town has been an amazing experience.
“It’s the longest time I’ve been in Blackpool probably since I was 18, and it has been incredible,” he said.
“Even when we heard £2m of tickets had been sold in the first block, makes me so proud to be able to give the town a lift.
“The money spent on the Promenade and with the attractions upping their game, to be the cherry on the top of the cake of the summer is amazing.
“The town works so hard in the summer season, I hope we keep what we have got this year and have musicals doing every summer season.”
Blackpool Council cabinet member for tourism and leisure Coun Graham Cain said it had been a great summer for the theatre and Blackpool as a whole.
“We are thrilled with the success of Mamma Mia!,” he said. “This was our first full summer season for more than 10 years and we are delighted to be a in a position to reveal just how successful it has been.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of work to ensure its success but I’m happy to say, it’s been great and we look forward to welcoming similar shows in the future.”
The Opera House run of Mamma Mia! was the only place people in the UK could see the show outside London this year, and just half way through the run it had broken box office records with ticket sales of £2m.
The £3.3m in ticket sales beats the previous best – the Opera House run of Cats a decade ago.
So how can Blackpool follow this record breaking summer?
Mr Williams added: “We have a number of world class productions planned for the remainder of this year with Let It Be and the Riverdance 20th Anniversary Tour along with three nights of Northern Soul and our cinema programming.
“Of course, we are always putting plans in place for future productions and we hope to be in a position very soon to make an announcement regarding further high profile shows at the Winter Gardens for 2015.”
And Nick Grace, associate producer of the Mamma Mia! international tour, said he was hopeful the success of this summer’s show would open the door for other big name touring productions.
He said: “We are thrilled the international tour has been such a huge success in Blackpool and leads the way for future summer seasons.
“Mamma Mia! has proved to be the perfect feel-good summer show for Blackpool and we are extremely proud to have been invited to be part of it.”
Money, money, money as 100,000 see show
Money Money Money has been rolling through the tills for businesses across Blackpool as many have benefited from the Mamma Mia! factor.
Coun Graham Cain said: “To attract in excess of 100,000 people to a show is fantastic news for Blackpool because not only were those people coming to watch the show, they were also dining out in Blackpool, making a weekend of it and spending money in the town. That is a huge benefit to everyone.
“This has been a huge summer for all the Winter Gardens staff who have had to ensure the Opera House and the whole Winter Gardens’ complex was ready to welcome thousands of people every day.
“There has also been a lot of work and commitment from people throughout Blackpool to ensure the show’s success and I would like to extend thanks to the many local businesses that have supported Mamma Mia! from the beginning and done their utmost to promote the show to their customers and guests.”
Among those to benefit is Robert Wynne, of Westcoast Rock Cafe, who said his customer base had increased by around 10 per cent.
“In what is already the busy period, that’s great, and makes a difference between being able to invest in the business or just carry on as we are,” he said.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a big show at any time of the year, not just the holiday season.”
And for Hagop Tchobanian, owner of the Beach House Bistro on the Promenade it’s been a major help – despite having missed half the run while his venue was being refurbished after last winter’s storms.
“It has been absolutely fantastic and I wish it could stay longer,” he said. “We need more and more things like this.
“I can’t remember when I last saw town so full of families, it’s been really nice.”
Attractions have also seen the benefit, with Merlin boss Ian Hawkins saying it was now important to keep the standards across the resort high.
He said: “One of the reasons Blackpool is buzzing this year is that we’ve got the mix right. Moving forward we need to keep doing that and must not rest on our laurels by assuming that it will come again by itself next year.
“Mamma Mia! has given me opportunities to drive my businesses and vice versa.
“That’s exciting for Blackpool, and proves it can carry big shows in the town.”