Mailbox: New Theatre Partner and “Mamma Mia!”

Mama Mia! National Tour 2009 - Monette McKay, Liana Hunt, Nicole Laurenzi - photo by Carol Rosegg

Guess what?!  Broadway Across America is adding me to their media distribution list!  (Thanks very much, Nancy Parrott and Elizabeth Truitt!)  I have included an excerpt from their first press release to me at the bottom of this post.  I love reading press releases, don’t you?  Beyond their content, as pieces of writing they are as fascinating and enjoyable to me as theatre reviews.

Now if you have been reading my blog from the beginning, you may be thinking, “Hope!  The focus of your blog is live theatre in the Indianapolis area.  You don’t have time to see and write about every locally-produced show as it is!  What are you doing negotiating for media passes with a touring organization?”


The answer is: I am furthering my education.

The more I write about live theatre, the more I love it and the more I want to learn about it, and that means seeing and writing about as many kinds of theatre as I can without going into debt.  Last year I served as an Encore Association judge on top of my self-assigned blogging duties because I wanted to learn more about the eleven all-volunteer theatres in that organization and very few of them would give me media passes.  Serving as a judge was a win-win solution. 

This year I would like to understand better what all the fuss is about Broadway shows, as well as continue my life journey of learning about all kinds of theatre.  Some day I may be able to afford a trip to New York City to experience some shows there, but in the meantime I am delighted to get the chance to see some Broadway shows here at home.

Speaking of Wealth

Yesterday I happened to be in the Half-Priced Book Store at 86th and Ditch Road looking at theatre textbooks. In one of them I read, “Most cities have one professional theatre company and three or four community theatres.” 

I laughed out loud.  Indianapolis has a whole handful of professional theatre companies and more community (volunteer) theatre companies than even I, a confirmed theatre junkie, can count. 

As always, the fact that there are always more live theatre shows in the Indy area than I have time to see makes me feel both rich and frustrated.

You may have noticed that I revised my “About the Blog” page recently to reflect my approach to dealing with all of this wealth.  I give first priority to theatres who give me media passes and who email* me press releases, publicity photos, and season announcements on a regular basis (preferably well in advance of opening nights) AND who understand that I do not write critiques or publicity pieces, only my honest and very personal responses to shows.  I focus on what I appreciated about a show because that is what interests me most.

I also come to theatre reviewing from a background in book reviewing and readers’ advisory librarianship.  The mantra in my profession is “Never apologize for your reading tastes.”  If you’re in the mood for Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer, I’m not going to play snob and try to convince you that you should be reading something more literary.  On the other hand, I’m also not going to tell you to lighten up and live a little if you are dead set on reading Moby Dick

Here on Indy Theatre Habit, I won’t tell you what shows you should be seeing either.  Only you know what kind of show you’re in the mood for, or what matters most to you about a production.  I hope my reviews will give you some information to help you make your own decisions, take your own risks, and give some sort of live theatre a try.

And now I’ll be including some touring Broadway shows in my review mix!

Hope Baugh –

*My email:  amarylliswriter at gmail dot com.

P.S. – Below is most of the press release I received about Broadway Across America’s “Mamma Mia!”  I would love to see this show, but I had already committed to reviewing other shows the one weekend it is in town.  If you see it, please drop me a line (email or comment box) about what you thought of it!


Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ MAMMA MIA!, the smash hit musical based on the songs of ABBA, returns to Indianapolis for a limited return engagement October 23-25, 2009 as a Broadway Across America special presentation.  

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased from an authorized ticket agent at Clowes Memorial Hall, downtown at the Broadway Across America Box Office, the Murat Theatre online at, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787.  

Seen by over 40 million people around the world, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! is celebrating 7 sold-out years at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, and is currently playing a record-breaking engagement on its National Tour in the United States.  The original West End production has played more than 4,000 performances, an international tour has played in more than 40 foreign cities, and the blockbuster feature film adaptation, produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, is the most successful movie musical of all time grossing $600 million worldwide. 

An independent, single mother who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island, Donna is about to let go of Sophie, the spirited daughter she’s raised alone. For Sophie’s wedding, Donna has invited her two lifelong best girlfriends—practical and no-nonsense Rosie and wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya – from her one-time backing band, Donna and the Dynamos. But Sophie has secretly invited three guests of her own. 

On a quest to find the identity of her father to walk her down the aisle, she brings back three men from Donna’s past to the Mediterranean paradise they visited 20 years earlier. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love will bloom and old romances will be rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities. 

Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs from “Dancing Queen” and “S.O.S.” to “Money, Money, Money” and “Take a Chance on Me,” MAMMA MIA! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends and new family found. 

MAMMA MIA! will play Clowes Memorial Hall October 23-25, 2009: Friday at 8:00PM, Saturday at 2:00PM and 8:00PM, and Sunday at 1:00PM and 6:30PM. Tickets range in price from $27-$72 depending on the seat location and performance date. Tickets may be purchased from an authorized ticket agent online at, downtown at the Broadway Across America Box Office, Clowes Memorial Hall, the Murat Theatre or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Groups of 15 or more should call 317-632-5182 x 103.


Produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal, the creative team responsible for bringing MAMMA MIA! to theatrical life includes some of the most gifted and celebrated talents of musical theatre and opera. With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. MAMMA MIA! has choreography by Anthony Van Laast, production design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material and arrangements by Martin Koch. 

The special edition cast recording of MAMMA MIA! is available on Decca Broadway. 

For information about MAMMA MIA! around the world, go to  

About Broadway Across America

Broadway Across America:  Owned and operated by British theatre producer John Gore (CEO) and entertainment industry veteran Thomas B. McGrath (Chairman), Broadway Across America presents first-class touring Broadway musicals and plays, family productions and other live events throughout a network of 43 North American cities.  Broadway Across America is also dedicated to the development and production of new and diverse live theatre for productions on Broadway, across America and throughout the world.   

5 thoughts on “Mailbox: New Theatre Partner and “Mamma Mia!””

  1. Hope,
    A couple of thoughts sparked by your post. You may already know most of this, but I hope you don’t mind some rambling notes anyway:

    1. Broadway (as in Broadway theater in NYC, is an odd beast. It’s certainly the highest-profile part of theater in America. But by no means do you have to go there for the best of the best. Chicago is right up the road. And while parking is absurdly expensive, theater sometimes isn’t. There’s a half-price ticket booth. Plus Megabus’ cheap rides, if you can plot a trip early enough (think spring).

    I just got back from seeing “Animal Crackers” at the Goodman and its as solid as anything I’d expect to see in NYC. (Might get to writing about it soon). There’s so much I’d love to see there. Still haven’t gotten to Chicago Shakespeare. Wish I had a transporter beam right to Steppenwolf. Would love to see the new musical from the Urinetown guys, which is having its world premiere up there. So, so much…

    And, often, Chicago hosts heading-for-NYC shows facing their first audiences. I saw Aida, The Producers, and Spamalot there before they went on to Broadway fame and fortune. I also saw such also-rans as Sweet Smell of Success. This year, the big hopeful is The Addams Family with Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane.

    2. “Broadway” on tour can mean a lot of different things. There’s a wide, wide range of stuff that hits the road. For one, some productions are Equity and some aren’t. That’s not always an indicator of overall quality, but it’s a sign of what resources are available to the producers. Sometimes, a tour can be stronger than the New York production (I’d put ‘The Who’s Tommy’ in that category.) Sometimes it’s a pale copy seemingly without any life of its own (lots to choose from there). Sometimes it’s rewritten for the road. Sometimes it’s just as good. Sometimes it’s just different.

    3. Most productions are adapated from their Broadway counterpart, but some do not have B’way cred yet. This season, that’s “101 Dalmations” being offered as part of the Broadway in Indy package.

    Told you I’d be rambling. Must stop and get back to other work.

    See you at the theaters…

    Lou Harry

  2. Lou! Thanks very much for all of this useful information!

    I’m sorry that I didn’t approve your comment for posting earlier. I only just now saw it because it had gone into spam area of my blog (probably because of the link) and I don’t get email notices about stuff in my spam. In fact, I rarely even check my spam any more and eventually it deletes itself. Hmm. I wonder what other good stuff I’ve been missing?

    Anyway, thanks again!

    By the way, I accepted an invitation to see a preview performance of Broadway Across America’s “Jersey Boys” on Monday, when I happen to already have the day off from my day job. I was delighted to learn later that you are going to give a talk before the show. I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say about it!

  3. Flush your Clowes Hall Mama Mia tickets. They are not even worth giving to your worst enemy. At Sunday’s matinee you had to strain to hear the music and the actors were like dish rags. TURN UP THE Speakers!!! What a terrible disservice to such a high energy musical. I wish I could get my money back.

  4. Wow. PL, I don’t think I know you in person, but I am very sorry to hear you had such a bad experience at the theatre. I don’t work for Clowes and I won’t be able to see “Mamma Mia” there myself, so I can’t offer any sugggestions or additional commentary about that. I do know what it’s like to be disappointed, though, so I sympathize. I hope you have a better experience the next time you go to a show!

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