Music & Lyrics: Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus
Reviewer: Jenny Antill
The Public Reviews Rating:
Abba’s musical legacy is one that has been around for over forty years. It has now been thirty-one years since the group itself last toured but their appeal remains incredibly broad, what with the Mamma Mia stage production and, more recently, the star-studded film of the same name. This stage performance was originally created back in 1999 when it had a hugely successful 18-week run and it has been playing ever since.
The promotional literature states “…the best Abba concert ever!” but unfortunately it does not entirely succeed in this aim. Admittedly, this type of entertainment appeals to a certain audience but too many of last night’s crowd appeared to have fallen out of the nearest public house; they spoilt it for those who were there to enjoy the music. That this was the overall consensus was confirmed by the many complaints at the interval. Whilst this was hardly the act’s fault, grabbing the audience’s attention is not one of their fortes.
The show has a pretty standard look about it with its star cloth, concert style lighting and, of course, the makeshift piano frame! George Hutchinson (Bjorn) and Danny Gluckstein (Benny) play the guitar and keyboards respectively very competently and provide good backing vocals for the women. Laura Jeffrey impersonates Agnetha very well, showcasing strong vocals and good dancing skills. Likewise Katrina Wallis as Frida can sing well but trying too hard with the choreography sometimes makes her appear a bit clumsy. All are assisted by a backing track but the live musicians add depth to the sound, including Mark Thomas on drums.
All of the classics are covered as well as some lesser known tracks. Whilst singing, the foursome is at home but the second that audience interaction comes into play, it unfortunately gets a bit awkward. The two act set features several costume changes including rather striking skin tight bodysuits worn by the women.
Abba Mania actively encourages people to sing, dance and have a good time. Coventry’s audience embraced this statement, perhaps to an excessive extent. The format of the show has clearly worked in the past but it may be time for a little bit of a shake up to increase its longevity.