Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The ABBA Show, Dec 15, 2017 ****

Produced by Showtime Australia 
At The Athenaeum, until Dec 30, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert  on Dec 15, 2017
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts in print on Tues Dec 19, 2017. KH
Jenna Ball as Frida
Talk about enthusiastic! The Melbourne audience members at The ABBA Show were as involved and effervescent as the performers, leaping to their feet, dancing in their seats, waving their arms and singing along like kids at a Wiggles concert.

Even ABBA lookalikes send fans of that 1970s, Swedish pop phenomenon into uninhibited, joyful frenzy when they hear such distinctive hits as Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Fernando, Super Trouper, Money Money Money, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Ring Ring. Doesn’t ABBA love repetition?

This tribute show delivers 20 ABBA songs and replicates the glitzy costumes, 70s hairdos, signature choreography and even the on-stage relationships between Agnetha (Hannah Pocock), Frida (Jenna Ball), Björn on guitar (Cameron Charters) and Benny on keyboard (Brent McMullen).

Their Swedish accents may be dodgy and their banter decidedly cheesy, but the foursome sings with gusto and Pocock and Ball capture the spirit, glamour and sensuality of Agnetha and Frida as they stamp their knee-high boots, flick their hair and sing with passion and flair.

The ABBA Show includes original video of the real ABBA performing, but this concert has no narrative and any dialogue is used merely to introduce songs or encourage fervent fans to sing and dance.

Director, Johnny Van Grinsven, focuses the show on Benny and Björn’s music played by a tight, three-piece band of bass (Zach Coombs), drums (Ben Harper), synth and saxophone (Hayden Baird).

Ball brings an audience member on stage as ABBA’s ‘man after midnight’, and vivacious volunteer, Jack, becomes a show highlight, donning a feather boa and sequined hat before outdancing Agnetha and Frida.

The ABBA Show is delightfully daggy, and witnessing middle-aged blokes wiggling their bods and flailing their arms to Mamma Mia is a delicious pre-Christmas treat.

By Kate Herbert

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