Advance Tickets Recommended
1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S at Times Sq.-42nd St.; A, C, E at 42nd St.-Port Authority Bus Terminal
||Wed-Sat, 8pm; Wed, Sat, 2pm; Sun, 2pm, 7pm|
Why the Italian title when the show takes place on a Greek island? Well, because that is the title of one of the preexistent songs of the Swedish rock group Abba, whose string of unrelated disco hits forms the musical's score. Then why not set it in Italy? To erase the obvious similarity to the 1968 movie Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, in which three ex-GIs find they have been paying child support to the same local belle, played by Gina Lollobrigida. But Catherine Johnson, the British book author, stoutly denies any debt to the film, and wanted to emphasize her independence by setting the action in Greece. Besides, the inspiration to do a show using Abba's hits occurred when Björn Ulvaeus—with Benny Andersson the group's male half—caught the London production of Grease. Now, Buona Sera was no masterwork, yet it was believable for three GIs to shack up with the same willing beauty during the finale of World War II's Italian campaign. But who is this American woman, Donna Sheridan, on a small Greek isle who carried on with one British and two American tourists in rapid succession circa 1980—when there was no war—had a daughter by one of them, but stayed on as a taverna-keeper and raised her daughter all by herself? It does not compute. Johnson, hired by the producer Judy Craymer to build a show around these songs so many have grown up on, came up with this improbable and lackluster musical book. It is rather like the case of someone who finds a button in the street and has a suit made to match. With the difference, though, that a button allows much more freedom to the tailor than twenty-odd Abba songs allow the bookwriter.