Judy Craymer

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Judy Sarah Jarman Craymer
Born (1957-10-26) 26 October 1957 (age 60)
Education Mount School, Mill Hill
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Occupation Theatre producer
Notable work Mamma Mia!
Parent(s) Leslie Craymer (d. 2000) and Betty (née Jarman) (d. 2002)
Awards MBE (2007), FGS

Judy Craymer MBE, is an English creator and producer of musical theatre[1] who has also worked extensively in the film, television and music industries. She is also the founder of Littlestar Services Ltd.[2] Craymer has achieved international popular success in musical theatre, in particular her work on Mamma Mia! which has been seen by more than 60 million people worldwide. Craymer was nominated for the "Carl Foreman award for special achievement by a British director, writer or producer in their first feature film" at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards for the film version of Mamma Mia! She has been dubbed "the greatest showbiz impresario" of the first decade of the 21st century[3] and has consequently been entered in Debrett’s.[4]


Born in London in 1957, Judy Craymer graduated from the Guildhall School of Music in 1977. She worked as a stage manager for the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, the Old Vic Theatre, London, on the original production of Cats for Cameron Mackintosh and for the Really Useful Theatre Company. In 1982 she became Tim Rice’s production assistant and went on to be executive producer for Chess.[5]

In 1987, Craymer moved into film and television production. Her credits include White Mischief, starring Charles Dance and Greta Scacchi, and Neville's Island, starring Martin Clunes and Timothy Spall.[6] Craymer also produced various live comedy specials for Channel 4.

In 1999, Craymer returned to her working partnership with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. She had been nurturing an idea for several years after working with them on Chess which was to become Mamma Mia! It took Craymer 10 years to persuade Andersson and Ulvaeus to give her the rights to the songs. Craymer's inspiration for the musical was the song "The Winner Takes It All".

"It's been said that, for a long time, the story of Mamma Mia! was the story of Judy Craymer and two blokes with beards who kept saying no," Craymer told the Daily Mail,[7] but they were impressed by the team Craymer had gathered around her to create the show; Phyllida Lloyd (a "cerebral director blessed with a popular touch") and "highly savvy writer" Catherine Johnson.[8] In 1996 Craymer formed Littlestar Services Ltd with Andersson and Ulvaeus to produce Mamma Mia!,[5] which opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in London's West End on 6 April 1999 and swiftly became a huge global success.

Mamma Mia! has become a global juggernaut since 1999,[3] having now played in more than 40 countries in all six continents, and in 16 different languages. It has set the record for premiering in more cities faster than any other musical in history. The show has been nominated for numerous Olivier and Tony awards and was the first West End and Broadway musical to be performed in Chinese.[9] Mamma Mia! is the 8th longest running show in Broadway history and one of only five musicals to have run for more than 10 years on the Great White Way. Mamma Mia! is in its 18th year in London's West End at the Novello Theatre and has grossed over $2 billion at the box office.

This success naturally attracted the interest of Hollywood, and in 2005/2006 Craymer made a deal with Universal Pictures to make a movie of Mamma Mia! Unusually for Hollywood, the movie was helmed by the three women who created it, with Craymer, Phyllida Lloyd and Catherine Johnson reprising their roles as producer, director and writer on the film.[4] Mamma Mia! The Movie, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski opened in 2008 and was the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. In 2013, Mamma Mia! The Movie was announced as Amazon UK's best-selling DVD of all time. On its release in 2008, it was the UK's fastest and best selling DVD of all time.[10] Mamma Mia! The Movie is also the highest worldwide grossing live action musical film of all time.[11]

More recently, Craymer also produced the flop Viva Forever!, a musical based on the songs of the Spice Girls, which was written by Jennifer Saunders and opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in late 2012. The show failed to reach the levels of other work she has been fortunate to be associated with and was panned by critics.[12]


Craymer is the co-author, alongside Abba founder members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, of Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You,[13] which looks in depth at the songs of Abba as well as the impact of the musical. The book was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2006. The paperback edition, released in 2008, also covers the success of Mamma Mia! The Movie.[14]

Other interests[edit]

Having made a reported £90 million from Mamma Mia![7] Craymer has spent much of her free time in philanthropic and other pursuits. In 2010, she was awarded the "Breast Cancer Research Foundation Humanitarian award in memory of Sandra Taub", in recognition of her fund raising for Breast Cancer Research, having closely linked Mamma Mia! with the charity’s fundraising efforts.[15]

Her early interest in competitive showjumping ("Horses were my obsession as a teenager and you never lose that love") led to her becoming an ambassador for the sport in 2011.[16] She is also an avid follower of equestrian and National Hunt racing.


  • In 2002 Craymer was named as a Woman of the Year "for her foresight and determination in producing and staging the world wide musical hit Mamma Mia!".[17]
  • In 2005, she was placed eighth in the Real Business list of Top 50 women.[18]
  • In 2007 she came ninth in the Management Today list of Britain’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs. Also in 2007, Craymer was awarded an MBE in Queen's birthday honours list for services to the music industry.[5]
  • In 2008, Women in Film jointly awarded the ITV Achievement of the Year Award to Craymer, Catherine Johnson and Phyllida Lloyd.[19]
  • In 2009 she was nominated for the BAFTA Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement.[20]


  1. ^ "Judy Craymer". judycraymer.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  2. ^ "Judy Craymer". Variety. 
  3. ^ a b Carpenter, Julie (25 November 2008). "I'm the £90m Dancing Queen". Daily Express. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Hattersley, Giles (23 November 2008). "Mamma Mia, there's a fire within Judy Craymer's soul". The Times. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c "Alumni: Judy Craymer MBE". Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  6. ^ "Judy Craymer". IMDb. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "How Mamma Mia's Judy Craymer became the £90m dancing queen". Daily Mail. 3 April 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  8. ^ Spencer, Charles (3 July 2008). "The unstoppable journey of Mamma Mia! to feelgood summer hit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  9. ^ "China's Mandarin Mamma Mia!". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 September 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Mamma Mia! is biggest selling UK DVD ever". The Daily Telegraph. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "MAMMA MIA! International Tour to Play Exclusive Season For the First Time at the Liverpool Empire". Broadway World.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "Power couple... Judy Craymer calls on Jennifer Saunders to help with Spice Girls musical". London Evening Standard. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  13. ^ Andersson, Benny; Ulvaeus, Bjorn; Craymer, Judy (13 November 2008). "MAMMA MIA! How Can I Resist You?: The Inside Story of Mamma Mia! and the Songs of ABBA". Phoenix. Retrieved 25 September 2017 – via Amazon. 
  14. ^ "Book synopsis". How can I resist you?. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "Judy Craymer - Charity". judycraymer.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "British Showjumping announces Mamma Mia's award-winning producer Judy Craymer as a new ambassador for the sport". British Showjumping. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  17. ^ "2002 Awards". Women of the Year. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  18. ^ "Awards". Littlestar Services.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  19. ^ "The Women in Film and TV 2008 Awards: full list of winners". The Guardian. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 
  20. ^ "Judy Craymer - Awards". judycraymer.com. Retrieved 25 September 2017. 

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