Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Björn Again - The ABBA Experience
Also see John's review of Midlife! - The Crisis Musical
The pop singing group ABBA skyrocketed to fame after winning a Swedish Eurovision Song Contest in 1972. The quartet was comprised of members Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) and Agnetha Fältskog. They gained international popularity by writing songs with simple lyrics, catchy melodies and offering a full but clean sound achieved by overdubbing the female singers' voices in multiple harmonies. ABBA broke up in 1982 having sold almost 400 million records world wide. The group still sells two to three million records per year, and their songs remain on the most requested playlists of many radio stations. The music of ABBA has been re-arranged into the successful stage musical Mamma Mia! that has toured worldwide, and has also been turned into a movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep.
Björn Again was created in 1988 by Rod Leissle and John Tyrrell. Their first show was at a small pub in Melbourne, Australia called The Tote on May 6, 1989. The band quickly became so successful that there are currently five Björn Agains performing in various parts of the world. The tribute band's seventeen-year existence exceeds that of the original ABBA.
Björn Again remains faithful to the signature style and sound of ABBA, duplicating their staging and costumes. The audience claps and sings and dances to perfectly re-enacted versions of songs such as "Waterloo," "Fernando," "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Money, Money, Money," "The Name Of The Game," "Chiquitita," "Super Trouper," and "Mamma Mia." The audience is delightfully transported by the talents of this group to the closest many of us will ever get to the real ABBA experience.
Björn Again - The ABBA Experience takes a light-hearted approach to their portrayal of ABBA, talking to the audience in faux-Swedish accents. They also have stage names which humorously resemble the names of the original ABBA members: Agnetha Falstart, Benny Anderwear, Frida Longstokin and Björn Volvo-us. The band is supported by bassist Rutger Sonofagunn and drummer Ola Drumkitt (for ABBA session musicians Rutger Gunnarsson and Ola Brunkert).
This feel-good show has great energy, fun audience participation, an enjoyable staging, retro costuming, and background videos which complement the songs. The only objectionable moment of the entire show may be due to the send-off nature of the group. During the encore performance of "Take A Chance," Benny dons a baseball cap as he raps part of the song in a contemporary street style, which is awkwardly anachronistic to the rest of the evening and thwarts the joy of the moment.
This production of Björn Again - The ABBA Experience appeared for one performance only on July 12, 2008 at The Parker Playhouse located at 707 NE 8th St. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For information on The Parker Playhouse you may contact them at 954-763-2444 or online at www.parkerplayhouse.com. For information on the Broward Center for the Performing Arts season you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.