Abba Forever celebrate their 20th anniversary as they continue to tour their tribute to the Swedish superstars.
They will be in concert at the Kings Theatre, Southsea on Sunday, January 28 at 7.30pm.
Jane Ellis, who performs as Agnetha in the show, set the ball rolling: “I was in the performing industry, and I have done a performing course, mainly dance and ballet and some singing and drama, and then I had some private lessons vocally. I was in between jobs at the time, but I have always been very passionate about Abba. I was brought up on Abba with my mum and dad and sister. Abba was an obvious choice for me. I started off and did auditions. It actually took about 18 months before we had our first performance. We had to get the musicians together and the costumes and all the equipment and then the transport, and we had to get it right. We then had to trawl through a lot of media to see what we could find. There are six of us on stage. When Abba performed live, they had 50 or more artists on stage. They had two drummers and backing singers and an orchestra. We are quite small scale by comparison. But we try to keep the music as live as possible. All the artists are passionate about the music.”
To play Agnetha was a natural choice for Jane: “I probably always favoured her as a child really. My sister probably more liked the brunette one. The two are really quite different. Agnetha is the shyer one. They are both very charismatic, but Frida is probably the more feisty one, a little bit more out there. Agnetha is probably the slightly more reserved one.
“They are both great to watch and very entertaining. We try to capture their mannerisms as much as possible. It’s the faces they pull that are quite unique. They are completely different like that. And also the things they do. Agnetha does this thing with her palms facing forward, with the left hand. She also does this thing of sitting with her hip stuck out. It’s quite difficult to explain! Frida pouts a little bit more. She is also a bit more flirty with the boys!”
Underlying it all, of course, is the quality of the music.
“I think we can now say that it has stood the test of time. It is superbly written by Benny and Bjorn. With the melody lines, all the guys in the band say they are surprised all the time just how brilliant they are, and that’s what we try to emulate.”
To an extent, the set is dictated by the greatest hits everyone wants to hear: “We do all the big hits, the Abba Gold, if you like, but because we are lucky enough to be able to play for just shy of two hours, we can put in some hidden gems that maybe people don’t know quite so well. The music is fantastic, and there are also some lesser-known songs that are also fantastic. I like all the songs.. I don’t think they ever actually wrote a bad song. They are all good, but we do try to rotate the lesser-known ones. At the moment we are doing one of the lesser-known songs from the Arrival album, Why Did It Have To Be Me, which is great. It’s a duet between Bjorn and Frida. It goes down really well.”