Later 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.
The highlights of the event for me is that it will be my first chance to really experience the show. I’ve owned the Swedish cast album since it was released in 1996, but not understanding the Swedish language, and the sheer length of the recording has made it rather inaccessible to me. I’ve tried to enjoy it on several occasions, and have even sat through it with a literal translation in hand, but have not been able to fully appreciate the power of the show as I was never able to make it to Sweden when they were staging the show. I do have some favorite songs from the piece, but like many cast recordings, you can’t truly appreciate them fully until you’ve seen the show. And I’ve always suspected I would fully appreciate the original Swedish recordings once I’ve seen the show in English. I am finally getting that chance.
Also the cast features the incredible Helen Sjöholm reprising her original role as Kristina. Helen has been the voice of Kristina since the earliest incarnations of the show and she has gone on to be Benny Andersson’s go to voice for the last couple of decades. It’s wonderful she will be introducing Kristina to the English speaking world as well. It wouldn’t feel right in another woman’s hands, although I’m sure when it does become a proper stage show, someone else will be filling the role. But that poor woman will have some very big shoes to fill. Additionally, my favorite Donna Sheridan from all the stage productions of Björn and Benny’s ABBA musical, Mamma Mia! is fellow Canadian, Louise Pitre. Louise originated the role of Donna in North America’s first production in Toronto, she also did the pre-Broadway tour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, as well as being the very first Donna in the Broadway production. She is an incredible performer and I am thrill to pieces that she will be on stage with Helen. Helen and Louise are two of the most talented women to have ever had the chance to work with Björn and Benny since Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad made the songs of Björn and Benny legendary. Having the two on stage together is going to be incredible.
And of course, the staging of Kristina is making New York City the place to be for ABBA fans from all over the world. Many are coming from Australia and Europe. I know of one ABBA fan who’s going to be there all the way from Japan. The shows are definitely the draw, but they also serve to be an excuse to meet up with lots of my ABBA friends from around the globe. At least 50 or so of us will be there and I will be seeing these wonderful people in just a few more hours.
All that stands between me and New York now are three flights. I will try to send in an update or two from New York, but if the opportunity to spend some time enjoying the city with some of my ABBA friends comes up, I will be taking those opportunities. I’ll have plenty of time to recap when I return.
Also the graphic comes from icethesite, run by my good friend Dominic “Ice” Wallis, please visit his amazing site for his amazing coverage of news relating to Kristina. Click here to visit icethesite.