Top West End and Broadway show Mamma Mia! is heading to Blackpool for a 10-week summer season run at the world famous Winter Gardens.
In what is a major coup for the resort, The Gazette can exclusively reveal the International Tour of the worldwide hit will be staged at the Opera House between June 20 and August 31 next year.
Blackpool will be the only place outside of London to host the production in 2014.
It is the first time in more than a decade Blackpool will play host to a summer season of a major West End musical production.
Based on the songs of Abba, Mamma Mia! has been seen by more than 50 million people and spawned the Hollywood movie starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan.
Blackpool tourism chiefs predict it will be a major draw and bring thousands of visitors to town when its run starts in June 2014.
Graham Cain, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said: “It is more than 10 years since Blackpool last had a full summer season show of this quality.
“Over the last few years Blackpool has transformed dramatically and we have been able to show investors and visitors that the town has changed.
“When speaking to the business community I have frequently been told that we need a big draw that offers something new that appeals to different types of visitors. I’m absolutely delighted we have been able to bring this high quality West End show to Blackpool.”
Cats made its regional UK premiere at Blackpool Opera House in 1989 when it netted almost £4m during a six-month run and was seen by about 45,000 people.
It returned to the venue after a 14-year gap in 2003 for a hugely successful three-week run.
West End runs of shows like Summer Holiday have also been massive draws, and the hosting of the 2009 Royal Variety Show – again at the Opera House – saw Blackpool’s stock rise.
But today’s announcement is tangible evidence Blackpool can still pull in the big shows.
Coun Cain added: “We are a town synonymous with theatre.
“Millions of people have been entertained in Blackpool and spent their summer holidays enjoying shows in the many venues; it’s time we returned to those days.
“I’ve no doubt that this fabulous musical will appeal to local residents but we also want businesses in the area, whether that be restaurants or hotels, to take advantage of this opportunity to attract more visitors as this represents a massive potential for the local economy to benefit.”
Michael Williams, Operations Director at Crown Entertainment Centres, on behalf of the Winter Gardens, said: “Mamma Mia! continues to be a huge success around the world and now it’s coming to Blackpool.
“We are really looking forward to working with a great team to bring such a fantastic show to the Opera House.”
The International Tour of Mamma Mia! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal, Stage Entertainment and NGM.
Judy told The Gazette: “Following 14 years of producing Mamma Mia! all over the world, we are extremely excited to be playing a summer season in Blackpool.
“We are sure audiences will find it the perfect place to have the time of their lives.”