West End theatre ‘very healthy’ despite pandemic, says Mamma Mia! creator

Judy Craymer was speaking after collecting a CBE for services to theatre and charity.

Judy Craymer
Judy Craymer

West End theatre “feels very healthy” and is working hard to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, including the new Covid-19 variant, the creator of the musical Mamma Mia! has said.

Judy Craymer, 64, the producer who is also responsible for the hit film adaptation of the Abba musical and its sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, was speaking after collecting a CBE for her services to theatre and charity.

Ms Craymer said she was “honoured” by the recognition but added: “It was bittersweet because the theatres were closed.

“The last 18 months has all been about the reopening of the theatre. It is fantastic that the theatres are open again and that Mamma Mia! is back.

Judy Craymer is made a CBE
Judy Craymer is made a CBE (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“It has been a bit of a journey through lockdown but it is great to see that the audiences are coming back.”

She collected her honour from the Princess Royal in a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Speaking about the challenges the industry may face from the Omicron Covid-19 variant, she said: “We never stop thinking. Everyone is tested. Everything is very safe.

“We just have to go with the circumstances and move accordingly, but it is very good that the West End feels very healthy.

“Mamma Mia! has been such a big part of the economy, for the West End and for the UK, as an export and this award is something to share with the huge family of people who have worked on it, in London, the UK and all over the world.

“It is 23 years now and it is a show that makes you happy.”

Ms Craymer is working on bringing the life story of “rock chick supremo” Cher to movie screens.

She said the 75-year-old singer is an “inspiration” and is among the strong women she admires.

Cher starred in the Mamma Mia! sequel.

Ms Craymer said it was important to her that the CBE was also in recognition of her charity work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Target Ovarian Cancer.

She said: “Part of the journey of being involved in Mamma Mia! is that it has enabled me to help charities that I feel passionate about.

“Mamma Mia! is very much about strong women.

“It has lead actresses and so to have helped support two charities which work to combat these diseases is a great thing to have been able to do.”

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