ABBA MANIA turns everyone into a ‘Dancing Queen’
Fans just can’t get enough of ABBA.
Nearly 40 years after the Swedish pop rock group disbanded, their music is still going strong, thanks in part to the success of U.S. hit movies “Mamma Mia!” (2008) and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018) and tribute acts that celebrate their lively songs.
Some of their biggest hits include “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Mamma Mia,” “The Winner Takes it All,” “Super Trouper,” “Fernando” and “Take A Chance On Me.”
ABBA MANIA, billed as “the original tribute from London’s West End,” kicks off an eight-week U.S. tour the end of January that will stop in Greensburg for one performance on Feb. 7 at The Palace Theatre.
Todd Littlewood, the group’s tour manager with TAL Entertainment Ltd. based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, England, said it’s the quality of ABBA MANIA’s performance that makes it the gold standard in ABBA tribute groups.
“We put the show into London’s West End – the UK’s Broadway – many years ago before any of the ‘tribute shows’ were on such a scale,” he said. “We added fabulous production and therefore we have continued to tour the globe. We have played many more live shows than ABBA ever did and with an estimated audience of 3 million people in over 30 countries.”
ABBA MANIA was created in 1999, playing its first shows in 2000. The live stage production played for 18 weeks at London’s Strand Theatre and made its German debut at the Deutsches Theatre in Munich, where it sold out 21 performances.
Since then, the show has continued to tour the UK and internationally, including concerts in South Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia and South Korea. Its current U.S. tour is its eighth, with 30 shows scheduled through March 17.
Littlewood said it’s a combination of great songs and “the feel-good factor” that has made ABBA’s music so unforgettable.
“The music seems to hit the spot with audiences young and old,” he said. “Older people remember the music from the ‘70s and ‘80s when they fell in love, first went dancing, had their kids, while another generation remembers the music from their parents loving ABBA more recently. We have had an influx of young fans who were introduced to the music by the movies.”
He said it’s hard to say which of ABBA’s songs are most popular with concert crowds.
“The songs sing to different people for different reasons,” he said. “One of our problems is fitting all the favorites in the show. ‘Waterloo’ is strong, people love ‘Mamma Mia,’ ‘The Winner Takes it All’ is outstanding and ‘Dancing Queen’ is always a firm favorite.”
ABBA MANIA’s U.S. cast is comprised of performers from the U.S. and Australia that recreate the singing group’s final concert from 1979 before it disbanded.
Kirbi Jo Long (Agnetha Faltskog) is a Las Vegas-based singer and actress who grew up in Omaha, Neb. and began singing at age 5 in choral ensembles and church. She has performed on cruise ships and in bands in New York, and has toured with USO shows, including opening for Katy Perry and Tim McGraw.
Amy Edwards (Anni-Frid Lyngstad) is from Sydney, Australia and performed with Australian boy band Human Nature before joining the cast of Disney’s “The Lion King,” performing in Australia and Shanghai. She lived in London where she was part of the original cast of “Priscilla Queen of The Desert” and now lives and performs in Las Vegas.
James Allen (Bjorn Ulvaeus), is originally from Sydney, Australia. He is a graduate of National Institute of Dramatic Art and played Prince Charming in the Australian touring cast of “Snow White.” After performing on cruise ships, he lived and performed in Las Vegas and now lives in Missouri.
Jeff Pike (Benny Andersson), from Atlanta, Ga., began studying guitar, voice and piano at a young age. He attended Clayton State University and Shorter College, where he studied voice, and theater. As a vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist, he has performed many styles of music over his 30-plus year career.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.