Long-running Abba musical Mamma Mia! has extended its schedule by ten months at the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre, where it’s now booking until 27 January 2007. Producers have also announced four new Masterclasses, which will allow members of the public to perform on the same stage as the cast.

Set on a Greek island, Mamma Mia! centres on a young Sophie who, preparing for her wedding day, has invited three of her mother's former lovers in an attempt to discover the identity of her father. Mother Donna’s former band members come along for the festivities too. The musical's original book, by Catherine Johnson, is interspersed with Abba disco classics such as "Dancing Queen", "Thank You for the Music", "Take a Chance on Me" and the title song. The production is directed by Phyllida Lloyd and designed by Mark Thompson.

Mamma Mia! had its world premiere at the Prince Edward theatre in April 1999 and, after five years, moved to the refurbished Prince of Wales in May 2004. Since opening in the West End, the musical has gone on to become a global phenomenon with currently 11 productions around the world including on Broadway, in Las Vegas and on an international tour. It has been seen by more than 24 million people in over 115 cities.

In London, the original production has grossed over £132 million at more than 2,500 performances to date. The current cast features Sophia Ragavelas (as Sophie Sheridan), Vivien Parry (mother Donna – played by Lucy Harris at some performances), Lara Mulcahy, Kim Ismay, Simon Slater, Martin Ball, John Alistair and Fergus Marsh.

Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer and Simon Warwick of the Creative Masterclass Company have announced their second year of courses for the Abba blockbuster. The three-day, non-residential Masterclasses, run by members of the show’s creative team, are held at a central London rehearsal space and the Prince of Wales and culminate in the participants’ own performance on the set of the show.

Dates for 2006 are 5-8 April, 31 May-3 June, 26-29 July and 23-26 August 2005. The course fee (£295) includes a top-price ticket to see Mamma Mia! as well as two tickets to the closed Masterclass performance.

- by Terri Paddock