For more than four years, Mamma Mia! – the Rodney Dangerfield of musicals – has been defying critical disrespect, selling out houses on Broadway and on tour. These sold-out crowds not only pay big dividends for the ABBA musical’s backers, but for Broadway Cares as well.
Since Mamma Mia! hit the road in February 2002, it has traveled through Mexico and Canada and crisscrossed the U.S four times. During that time, it has twice won the fundraising prize for touring shows at both Gypsy of the Year and Easter Bonnet, says Joyce Davidson, the show’s stage manager and fundraising volunteer coordinator for the tour.
“And we’ve been runner up every other time since the tour’s inception,” she adds proudly. How essential is Mamma Mia! to Broadway Cares’ work? Through Spring of this year, they have raised more than $1.3 million for our cause.
If it’s Tuesday…
“We absolutely collect for the full six week period, which can be challenging because we move every week and our markets change drastically, depending on the city,” Davidson says. “Recently, we went form collecting $25,000 during one week in Schenectady, NY to collecting just under $15,000 in Scranton, PA. It can be frustrating at times…but you have to remember that every dollar counts.”
Just like the Broadway show, Mamma Mia!’s cast and crew isn’t above trying out a few marketing tricks to boost donations. They offer Polaroids with cast members, sell buttons and auction off everything form walk-on roles to stage prop, including a poster that’s torn up onstage during the show, taped back together before the curtain and then signed by the entire cast.
Gimmicks aside, enthusiasm and commitment are what keep the show’s fundraising efforts fresh and successful. “I have to say how incredibly fortunate we have been. Every single person, from our general managers to our merchandise people, support this amazing cause,” Davidson says.
“I guess everyone has been touched by illness in their lives and they use that memory to inspire their efforts through the six-week collecting period.”