‘MAMMA Mia!” — which turned everybody with a hand-held hair dryer into a Dancing Queen — will end its 14-year Broadway run Sept. 5.
It is the eighth-longest-running show in Broadway history, just a few hundred performances behind “A Chorus Line, ” “Oh! Calcutta!” and “Les Misérables.”
“It’s amazing we’ve sailed through a decade and a half, and I think it’s the right time to go, ” producer Judy Craymer tells The Post. “We want to have a fun and buoyant summer and go out with grace.”
Since its October 2001 opening, “Mamma Mia!” has grossed more than $600 million in New York. Lately, though, it’s had its ups and downs on Broadway. It plays to full houses when the tourists are in town but struggles when they’re not.
“It was a tough winter for everybody, ” Craymer says, “and it’s become very competitive on Broadway. But I’ll take the badge of being the eighth-longest-running show.”
It was Craymer’s idea to bundle ABBA songs — “Take a Chance on Me, ” “Knowing Me, Knowing You, ” “The Winner Takes It All” — into an infectious show about a daughter’s search for her real father on the eve of her wedding.
Craymer’s biggest hurdle was persuading the ABBA boys — Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson — to let her do the show in the first place. They had a terrible experience on Broadway in 1988 with their flop “Chess.” They vowed never to do another musical. But they liked Craymer, who worked on “Chess” as a young woman, and trusted her with their songs.
She delivered a show that’s played more than 400 cities in 16 languages and has a worldwide gross of over $2 billion.
Craymer opened the show in London in 1999 working out of a small office with a “borrowed phone and a borrowed computer.”
Today “Mamma Mia!” headquarters are in an elegant mansion behind the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly Street. On the wall of Craymer’s office are six clocks, so she can keep track of all the time zones in which productions of her show are playing.
Craymer also produced the 2008 movie, which starred Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried as mother and daughter, and ranks as one of the highest-grossing movie musicals of all time. Craymer says she’s “toying around” with a sequel, but can’t confirm “just yet” that there will be one.
In New York, “Mamma Mia!” opened a month after the attack on the World Trade Center. Some people doubted whether a city plunged into tragedy would embrace such a lighthearted show.
But “Mamma Mia!” turned out to be just what New York needed.
“Mayor Giuliani was out there encouraging Broadway to stay alive, and ‘Mamma Mia!’ was a part of that, ” says Craymer. “It was traumatic, and we felt inadequate because all we were doing was ‘Mamma Mia!’ but we just got on with it.”
Ben Brantley, in his review in the Times, wrote: “Those in need of solace — and who doesn’t that include in New York these days? — will be glad to learn that a giant singing Hostess cupcake opened at the Winter Garden last night.”
When “Mamma Mia!” moved a few years ago from the Winter Garden to the smaller Broadhurst, it did so amid a blaze of fireworks.