Cather­ine John­son

The Herald - - NEWS -

The writer of ABBA-based hit mu­si­cal Mamma Mia! on how her trip to But­lins sowed the seeds for a gal­lus show.

CATHER­INE JOHN­SON grew up in Wick­war, near Wot­ton-un­der­Edge in Glouces­ter­shire, where she was ex­pelled from school aged 16.

She mar­ried aged 18, but was di­vorced by the time she was 24. Un­em­ployed and liv­ing in Bris­tol with her first child, John­son en­tered a playwriting com­pe­ti­tion run by Bris­tol Old Vic and ITV sta­tion HTV West un­der the pseu­do­nym Maxwell Smart; Rag Doll won the com­pe­ti­tion, and was pro­duced in 1988.

Boys Mean Busi­ness was pro­duced by The Bush in 1989, and Dead Sheep by the same the­atre in 1991, win­ning the Thames TV Best Play Award. For Bris­tol Old Vic, John­son wrote Too Much Too Young (1992), Where’s Willy? (1994) and Rene­gades (1995).

Shang-a-Lang was first pro­duced by The Bush in 1998, with Mamma Mia! open­ing in the West End the next year. Since then the lat­ter has been seen in more than 40 coun­tries and was nom­i­nated for Olivier and Tony awards.

Be­yond Mamma Mia!, John­son wrote Lit­tle Baby Noth­ing (2003) for The Bush, Through The Wire (2005) for the Royal Na­tional The­atre Shell Con­nec­tions, and Sus­pen­sion (2009) for Bris­tol Old Vic.

She has writ­ten ex­ten­sively for tele­vi­sion, and is work­ing on a ma­jor new project, as well as a novel and a new piece for the RNT Shell Con­nec­tions ini­tia­tive.

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