Mamma Mia creator Judy Craymer: Bittersweet to be made CBE while theatres closed


Mamma Mia creator Judy Craymer has said she is “honoured” to be made a CBE but added it is “bittersweet” while the theatre industry is in “complete calamity darkness”.

The producer, who is also responsible for the hit film adaptation of the Abba musical and its sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, has been recognised for her services to theatre and charity in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

She told the PA news agency she is hopeful she will be able to celebrate when the show, which was in its 21st year in the West End until it was closed due to the pandemic, reopens next year.

The Novello Theatre
The Novello Theatre

She said: “It’s all a bit surreal really, (I found out) at a time when you just knew there were so many other things going on, and of course I’m honoured because this is for Mamma Mia and what I’ve done in the last 21 years but the industry of theatre is in complete calamity darkness at the moment.”

She added: “It’s bittersweet to receive an honour when theatre is thrown into such darkness and we are in such calamity, but at the same time it’s great an honour can shine a light on the industry and visibility of the arts and theatre.

“Next year I hope will be a massive celebration and Mamma Mia will definitely be a show that people have loved and embrace.

“Hopefully the West End will be filled next year. Theatre is the heartbeat of London, it is the main artery that connects the restaurants, the transport, the tourism, the hotels, it’s the oxygen really, so London can’t really officially say it’s open until the theatre lights are on again.

🎵 I'll cross the stream… I have a dream. 🎵

— MAMMA MIA! (@MammaMiaMusical) September 30, 2020

“And it’s also educational and it’s community and that is the awful thing with the distancing, it’s a shared experience.”

Craymer said that during lockdown she has been contemplating what is next for the world of Mamma Mia and said: “There have been things. There is recently the thought of another movie and I know people would love one and some people I’m sure wouldn’t’ love one!

“But I love working with the material and we’ll see. I can’t believe three years ago we were all carousing on an island in Croatia pretending to be in Greece and 500 crew and all having a great time, it definitely wouldn’t’ happen now but it’s something that I’m definitely thinking about and furthering the Mamma Mia shows and I have a couple of movies, nothing to do with Mamma Mia, in development.”

Craymer said she was also gratified to be recognised for her work with charities, including Target Ovarian Cancer and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

She said: “To have been able to shine a light on The Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Mamma Mia, and we raised a million dollars and lots of awareness, and I’m very proud to have started with Target Ovarian Cancer charity here in the UK. It’s a horrible disease, it’s an invisible disease.”