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Meet the Super Trouper, Mamma Mia! to live

In the early 1980s, Judy Craymer was given a task that turned out to be life-changing. Then, 25 or so, and a job as a stage manager at the London production of Cats Craymer was asked to pick up ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus from the airport to meet with a poet Tim Rice Craymer, who grew up in London when he saw ABBA on Top of the Pops made a friendship with the Swedish pop star and his songwriting partner Benny Andersson. Eventually, she would give the duo, which owns the rights to ABBA's songs, an idea for their music that would become very profitable: the Mamma Mia! Stage musical, which has grossed more than $ 2 billion since opening the West End in 1

999, and released a film adaptation and a new sequel to the film in 2008, Mamma Mia! Here's off again.

" Mamma Mia! makes people comfortable in their own skin," Craymer explained, explaining the appeal of her feel-good franchise while drinking a gin and tonic at a Beverly Hills hotel in June. Craymer, who shares credit with Gary Goetzman is the keeper of the Mamma Mia flame and the local Swedish whisperer. She attended as screenwriter Los Angeles Ol Parker gave the second film the finishing touches, which this weekend in the midst of a wave of positive reviews in theaters. " Mamma Mia! ] makes people feel happy for two hours," Craymer said. "There are a certain amount of Looney tunes, and there are emotions, and there is a bit of winking, and … You just feel like you have a picnic on the beach or walking around in your canvas shoes and have a free time outdoors . "

In a time when Hollywood revered the nature of meticulous world worship In superhero and fantasy franchises, Craymer plays a key role in the world of Mamma Mia !, on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi with its azure waters, exuberant musical numbers and the bizarre use of Hollywood legends. Meryl Streep offers a jumpsuit and Cher "Fernando" to sing is as much a contribution to popular culture as the embossing of new Jedi and Caped Crusaders.

Mum Mia! Here We Go Again is, as Craymer said, the godfather II of this franchise, in the sense that it dates back in time to the story of the protagonist of the original, Streep's free-moving Donna, to tell. with flashbacks by Young Donna, newly graduated from Oxford and played by Lily James. All the leading actors return, including Streep in a short but moving musical sequence: "She would never sing 10 songs and swing from rooftops," said Craymer of Streep. "She did not want to do that … She did that … but she wanted to be involved." Cher joins the ensemble in the role of Streep's mother in a kind of time-critical casting that somehow makes sense on the timeless island of Kalokairi , Nobody really ages there; they only turn confidently in their caftans.

A decade is a long time to wait for a sequel, and it was Craymer who eventually persuaded a reluctant Andersson and Ulvaeus to finally allow. "They always go to the side of caution," Craymer said. "Maybe it's a Swedish attitude, it's also a comeback we always have -" No, Judy, that will not work. "" Yes, it will, "I say, so we get where we are, always. "It was also Craymer who urged on one of the defining moments in the first movie, where Streep screams in a lame jumpsuit," Want one more? "before launching a casting performance of" Waterloo "with her castmates , "I remember I really fought for this moment," Craymer said. "Because everyone said, 'No, Judy, you're used to theater, and theater is different. "My instinct was that what happened in the stage show had to happen in the cinemas, besides all the fabulous instrumentation and the songs, this is the moment when the audience gets their pleasure in joining in."

In the second There was no question in the film that such a scene would be included – and there is also a musical number performed on a flotilla of ships that Craymer calls her "Dunkirk moment". Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, who started, Mamma Mia! Pursuing as a potential film project was still a production manager at New Line Cinema, said Craymer "keeps the guard rails around" Mamma Mia! 's very specific tone.

"As Cher says, Judy has glitter in her veins," Langley said. "She's stubborn. She really knows what the fans love. It's not as easy as the incredible music. It's a multi-generation story. It's mostly female, but it's not limited to that. It is completely uncynic. "When Langley gave the green light to Parker's screenplay in January 2017, she told Craymer and Goetzman that she wanted the film for the summer of 2018, a short timeline for such ambitious production, with a budget of $ 52 million for the original film $ 75 million, a difference that Craymer calls "pleasant, but not silly." One area where Craymer believes the film could find an enthusiastic new audience is China – the original did not feature in the emerging Chinese theater market in 2008 but in the years that followed Mamma Mia! became the first Western musical to be produced in Chinese with a Chinese cast and developed a fan base there.

Craymer, 60, graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Performing Arts Drama and worked for the British theater producer Cameron Mackintosh who became mentor.She also has other, non-ABBA-P directed, including a Spice Girls Jukebox musical with Jennifer Saunders that never flew open. And she dedicates much of her time to breeding show horses and racehorses, especially her German Hanoverian dressage champion Hector, to whom she was promoted after Mamma Mia! -Sequel promotion gladly returned] "He's like a typical kind of guy," said Craymer, of Hector. "He's like," If you're not here, I really do not miss you, and now that you're here, I want all your attention. " But Mamma Mia! was the central project in Cramer's career, and over the years she stuck to it – including when Harvey Weinstein tried to buy film rights in the early years. "I've tried to hold on to my kingdom," Craymer said, explaining why she rejected the now disgraced producer who was at the height of his power in Hollywood at the time. "There were a lot of pitches and finally a phone call saying," I want you to know that I have a bit of charm. And I think we should meet and discuss. "And I went and met him … and I was just, God, I just knew what would happen."

As Craymer of the Donna character in Mamma Mia! is a woman who takes her own path in life, difficult to see any parallels to the producer. "She was independent, she was resolute, and she did not need any of these guys," Craymer of Donna said. "She did it alone, and I think that's an important message – not being alone, but being able to do something good."

While Craymer was talking, she waved a wristlet with glittering, expensive-looking bracelets beneath one of the Mamma Mia! appeared in a white leather strap. "Do you want one?" She asked as she complimented it. "It's not real, Cher just called me and said her band is broken and she needs a new band, I laughed because they are not real, here …," she said, handing over a foil-wrapped giveaway Mum Mia! . "Anyone can have one, they're fun, right?"

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