Abbamania | Shaftesbury Theatre | Review
It was a cold miserable evening as we queued outside the Shaftesbury Theatre, but that didn’t matter, excitement was in the air. Months after theatres went dark due to the pandemic many are throwing open their doors this week so that audiences can enjoy live entertainment once more.
Temperatures taken, bags searched and e-tickets scanned we entered the beautiful theatre. As one of the first to enter the auditorium, I couldn’t help it… I shed a tear as I looked around, the stunning architecture, the stage set for action and the growingg atmosphere as the audience entered. It was overwhelmingly wonderful. The newly decorated Shaftesbury Theatre looked resplendent for it’s grand opening.
Before the show started the theatre’s Chief Executive, James Williams came on stage to welcome the audience back and thank them for coming. The theatre loving audience warmly responded by bringing the house down in appreciation.
Time for the show! Abbamania – the original Abba tribute band kicked off with ‘Waterloo’ the Eurovision winner of 1974 that shot the supergroup to fame. Dressed in replica outfits, Abbamania looked the part and their vocals hit the right mark so that from the first moments of the show, we knew that they were in for a great night.
Few artists have as many recognisable hits as Abba and during this two hour extravaganza they just kept coming. As each intro played the audience showed their delight and didn’t need to be asked twice to jump onto their feet to sing and dance along. The atmosphere was jumping. Everyone onstage and off were thrilled to be back.
Parts of the show were very kitsch, the singing competition between the two sides of the audience (is this panto?) and being asked to turn our phone lights on to light up the stage but it was so much fun and the audience loved it.
The fabulous foursome are played by Rhiannon Porter (Agnetha), JoJo Desmond (Anni-Frid), Edward Handoll (Bjorn) and musical director Loucas Hajantoni (Benny). They were enthusiastically backed by Anders Rye on lead guitar, Paul Gregory on Drums and Dan Hall on Bass guitar.
The people in front of us were calling out for ‘Dancing Queen’ but I knew with disappointment that when the first chords were struck it was almost the end of a memorable night of being totally immersed and involved in live entertainment, something that hasn’t happened in… ahem… many months.
I have been humming Abba songs all day, feeling warm, and finally optimistic that things are getting back to normal. It’ll soon be time to open the wine, put my feet up and watch this years Eurovision Contest tonight. Will the UK get any points? Will there be a group that have the potential to become the next Abba? Not a hope, but life is good.
Thank you for LIVE music, and for giving it to me.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill