From a Cats keepsake to Abba originals, Judy Craymer – the producer behind stage hit Mamma Mia! – shares her most precious possessions.
I’ve been collecting panama hats since I wore them at school. I’m always losing them, so I buy new ones everywhere I go. They’re perfect for a bad-hair day but also look great piled on this hat block, which I bought near my home in the Cotswolds.
These nesting dolls, painted with the members of Abba, were a gift from a friend around 2003. They sit in my office, a reminder of the emotional journey it’s been producing the musical all around the world – there’s been coffee, vodka and tears.
I’ve kept this programme from my first job as an assistant stage manager on the original production of Cats. I spent most of the time in the car boot on stage handing out props! It was my first time working with the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh and Elaine Paige.
My father Leslie was a huge inspiration to me – this is a photo of him as a young barrister (he became a solicitor later in life). He had a great sense of humour and great wisdom – he believed you should always do what you love.
I drove everyone mad playing these Abba tapes after first meeting Björn and Benny in the early 80s when they were collaborating on Chess with Tim Rice, for whom I was working at the time. There was something theatrical yet relatable about their music – a rollercoaster of emotions.
Here is a photograph of me with a friend of my cousin’s, taken around 1975, when we all went to Marbella after finishing A-levels, before I started at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. I had no money but somehow managed to get there. It was the greatest holiday ever.
This bracelet, made from citrine seal rings, belonged to my mother Betty. I inherited her love of antique jewellery. She was elegant but never extravagant – this reminds me of her thrifty eye for great style and how she taught me the value of things.
When I was four, I had to choose between ballet and horses – and horses won. In my teens I worked as a groom until the theatre world intervened; now I own a number of horses with [Olympic showjumper] Nick Skelton. I bought this sculpture by Nic Fiddian-Green eight years ago.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again will be in cinemas from 20 July. For tickets to the musical go to mamma-mia.com
Interview by Fiona McCarthy