Tag Archives: Mamma Mia

Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA first let audiences in on their masterpiece, “Kristina Från Duvemåla,” in Malmö, Sweden on October 7, 1995, then record buying audiences were able to obtain the 3-CD cast recording in September of 1996. Almost immediately there was talk about translating the work to English and bringing it to an American audience, particularly because the story of “Kristina Från Duvemåla” (translating to Kristina From Duvemåla) is just as much a story about Sweden as it is a story about America. However, it seems a lot of the work in bringing “Kristina” to America would have to wait due to the surprise success of a little show launched in London in 1999, called “Mamma Mia!” would demand a lot of time and attention for Björn and Benny.

The story for “Kristina” is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrants” series of four novels, which follows the lives of a group of Swedish settlers which include Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina, as they make the tough decision to pack up and take their chances settling in the unknown wilds of America in the mid 1800’s. While the books follow the group, the show has singled out Karl Oscar and Kristina to be the central focus of the show. The novels are considered to be some of the finest works in Swedish literature, which is what attracted Björn and Benny to wanting to tell the tale of Kristina. Their earlier musical effort, a collaboration with Tim Rice on an original idea by Tim Rice resulted in the musical “Chess.” As much as “Chess” is praised for it’s incredible songs, it’s also panned for its relatively weak plot, which left Björn and Benny looking for a well crafted story to transform into a musical. Björn and Benny felt for their second musical, they didn’t want plot to be one of the problems to plague the show.

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Arrival Rocks Palm Springs With ABBA Music

When it comes to ABBA Tribute Bands, Arrival from Sweden is the world’s best. It is the most authentic recreation of an ABBA concert you’ll ever see, and Vicky Norbäck-Zetterberg, founding member of Arrival, has gone to great lengths to ensure the most authentic show possible, including enlisting the help of ABBA’s costume designer, Owe Sandström, to recreate some of ABBA’s signature costumes and choreography that’s be researched to match how ABBA originally performed the songs live. All the music is created live, unlike some ABBA tribute bands that actually bring recordings to sing to their shows. And who can resist authentic Swedish accents as they are real Swedes who are able to accurately sing the songs the way ABBA did.

Arrival’s performance in Palm Springs was part of the 2010 Evening Under The Stars charity event benefiting Palm Springs AIDS Assistance Program. The event was held on the grounds of the O’Donnell Golf Club, just a short walk away from Downtown Palm Springs. As the event was $395 a plate for the charity dinner, I was attending as a guest of the band. I had the opportunity to hang out with the band before and after the performance along with a couple of other guests the band invited.

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Only At Wal-Mart Mamma Mia! Packaged With Xanadu

Wal-Mart is home to some interesting deals, and it seems they have a deal designed just for me, only problem is I already have both items they’ve packaged together. What they’ve done is get with Universal Pictures and packaged some of their movies together in little Wal-Mart exclusive packages usually for a great price. In this case, what was packaged together was Mamma Mia! The Movie with Xanadu.

No doubt the decision was made because Mamma Mia appeals to a musical audience that appreciates ABBA as that is the basis for the music in the musical. Olivia Newton-John headlines Xanadu as a very late 1970’s early 1980’s attempt to build on her amazing success in Grease with a musical like picture. What Wal-Mart and Universal execs probably didn’t realize the packaging of ABBA and Olivia Newton-John together is something that’s been done before. When ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden, Olivia Newton-John was also competing in the contest for England. And when ABBA were making a concerted effort to try and build their success in the United States, they appeared on one of Olivia Newton-John’s television specials along with Andy Gibb. So it’s not the first time ABBA and ONJ have crossed paths.

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Ryan’s 10 Most Incredible Things About About 2009

Now that 2009 has come to a close and 2010 has begun, I can safely say that it’s a year that has been very challenging and although I am not the least bit sad to see 2009 go, it certainly was not without some really incredible experiences for me that I would like to highlight before wipe the slate clean and start fresh with 2010.

This list was especially difficult to narrow down since 2009 was the year I kicked my blogging into high gear. I had started Ryan’s Incredible World in 2007 didn’t actually start blogging until 2008 and I would maybe make no more than five entries a month. So picking my highlights of 2008 was relatively easy since there wasn’t so many blog entries to go through to pick out the defining moments.

I had joined a couple of 30-Day blogging challenges which requires 30 blog entries in 30 days and it essentially got me into the habit of making almost daily blog entries. Now it’s pretty safe to say that each month sees about 25 new blog entries. The constant blogging has actually helped bring a bigger audience to my blog, so if your first time reading any of my writing has been in 2009, then no doubt something I wrote in 2009 caught your eye and is why you’re here reading this entry now. I am grateful for the many folks who’ve read my blog and left me comments, it’s been a pleasure to hear your feedback throughout the year. In any case, I looked through every post of 2009 to select what I feel were the 10 Most Incredible Things about 2009 that happened for me. You’ll note I combined a few complimentary things to narrow it down to 10.

I do hope you enjoy my reflection on 2009 and continue to join me on my quest to find the most incredible things of 2010. Without further ado, in no particular order.

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Lucille Ball Is Enjoyable As “Mame”

Lucille Ball Mame As MameLast week when I was introduced to Rosalind Russell’s “Auntie Mame” film from 1958, one of the hosts of the screening referred to the Lucille Ball lead musical version simply called “Mame” from 1974 as an abomination. Naturally, I felt obligated to see for myself how allegedly terrible this version is. And I didn’t find it horrible at all, in fact I quite enjoyed it.

To preface seeing both films, I should admit, I was actually introduced to the Original Broadway Cast recording by my Australian friend, Graeme Read, who is a big fan of the song “Open A New Window” and as a result of his introducing me to the song, I’ve actually had the cast album for a number of years now. I knew of Angela Landsbury through the “Murder She Wrote” series and Bea Arthur through both “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.” Also my grandmother looked a lot like Bea Arthur, I’ve always felt like anything Bea did was a larger than life version of my grandma. So anytime I see Bea Arthur on “The Golden Girls” or play a song from “Mame” I am always reminded of my grandma.

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Mommie Dearest Screening In San Diego

Mommie DearestTonight I met up for dinner with my good friend Vito Grandolfo, before we attended a screening of the classic campy film, “Mommie Dearest” starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. The screening was part of the local FilmOut monthly movie series at the Birch North Park Theatre in North Park. Vito and I met up with some friends who were also planning to see the show. It seemed like a good and fun idea to go see a wickedly bad movie that definitely inspired some audience participation as fans of the movie shouted out some of the biggest lines from the movie back at the screen.

I had never been to the Birch North Park Theatre before. It was a nice venue for one as old as it is. It wasn’t too large and wasn’t too small either. It looks like the venue is able to be used for stage productions as well, tonight there just happened to be a huge screen parked on the stage. Before the movie began they did a raffle for a few prizes and even awarded one for someone who had come dressed as Joan Crawford. Additionally the screening had Billy Masters as an opening act. He came, shared some stories about the movie, how Faye Dunaway thinks the movie killed her career, and gave away some prizes. I’m not entirely sure who he is, but he was moderately entertaining. He said to watch out for his favorite part in the movie which occurs during the infamous wire hanger scene and the cleaning powder where Faye goes cross-eyed for a moment.

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On My Way To New York To See Björn & Benny’s Kristina

Kristina Carnegie Hall InfoLater today I will be boarding a couple of flights that will take me to New York City. My flights are “Red Eye” flights that will deliver me to New York first thing tomorrow morning. I’m excited to be seeing the new English translation of the epic musical, Kristina, written by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s epic novels in “The Emmigrants” series which chronicles the adventures of Swede Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina as they move their family from famine stricken Sweden to the wild’s of America in the late 1800’s.

Kristina is not being staged as a complete show, it is being staged in a concert style at the famed Carnegie Hall. The purpose of which is to record the show as well as gauge the reaction to it to see if there’d be interest in a fully staged version. The original Swedish epic was a definitely considered an epic masterpiece by those who saw it, but at a four hour running time, is going to have to undergo some trimming if its ever going to be staged fully here in the United States. The concerts will be a good indication of where some of the trimming has been done.

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Remembering September 11, 2001

New York City Cop October 2001In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since the tragedy of the World Trade Center towers in New York City falling due to two terrorist highjacked passenger planes aiming for and crashing into each tower. In other ways its hard to believe it hasn’t been longer. In any case, this year it seems a little more poignant to remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001 or 9/11 as it seems to be commonly referred to.

I think the reason why I feel like I need to honor the memory of September 11, 2001 is that I had my first trip to New York in October 2001 to attend the Mamma Mia! premiere on Broadway, and this year, in a couple more weeks I will be returning to New York for the first time since 2001 to see Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA launch the English language concert version of their musical, Kristina. Kristina is the musical Björn and Benny wrote that tells the story of Swedish immigrants coming to the United States in the late 1800’s. The story is based on the book series known as “The Emigrants” by Vilhelm Moberg. The New York performances are being staged as a concert version of the show instead of a fully staged production at Carnegie Hall. This will be in many cases the public’s first chance to experience the show in English. A workshop version of it was worked on a couple years ago but never heard if it actually had any public performances.

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Arrival Brings A Touch Of Sweden To The San Diego County Fair

Arrival at the San Diego County FairI think in large part due to the phenomenal success of “Mamma Mia! The Movie” last summer which was released shortly after last year’s San Diego County Fair concluded, the organizers of the San Diego County Fair thought it fitting to bring in an ABBA tribute band as a headlining act for the 2009 San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Fortunately the organizers picked what I consider to be the world’s best ABBA tribute band out there. That tribute band is Arrival, who like ABBA, also originate from Sweden and the show Arrival is touring under is called “The Music Of ABBA”.

Headed by Vicky Zetterberg (who portrays Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad) and joined by Jenny Gustafsson (who portrays Agnetha Fältskog), Arrival brought a wonderful touch of Sweden to San Diego, not once, but twice with two shows on July 2, 2009. The afternoon show began at 2pm and while the program states the afternoon concerts are hour long shows, Arrival played for a full two hours bringing a complete ABBA show to those down at the fair early enough to catch the afternoon show. I was personally fighting with traffic and the whole mess with parking so I didn’t make it to the Heineken Grandstand Stage until 2:30pm but I did get there. Arrival were performing “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” as I arrived.

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CHESS In Concert DVD & CDs Available Tuesday

Chess In ConcertIf you think the only musical theatre entry of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA is MAMMA MIA!, you’d be wrong. Shortly after the last songs of ABBA’s catalogue were completed, the members of ABBA decided to take a break from the group, and Björn & Benny decided to try their hand at writing a musical. Tim Rice, well known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was in the market for new composers to work with for his idea of building a musical around the idea of a Chess championship. After having met Björn & Benny and deciding to work together, the process of bringing Chess to life was born.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice established a successful formula of trying out the songs from shows they wrote in a “Concept Album” format that got released to the public long before a staged version of the show got made. This methodology was an invaluable way to see if the songs were good enough to warrant the time and expense of launching a full scale musical. Instead of going to the expense of launching a full show, it’s a chance to release the album to the public and see if it generates enough interest. If the album tanks, a fortune has been saved, and if it succeeds, then it creates an audience for the show when it gets launched.

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