If you are lucky enough to live in the Portland, Oregon area, or happen to have an Internet connection (which I suspect you might if you’re reading this) then you had the opportunity on Thursday May, 6th, 2010 to tune into the Paula’s Picks program on KBOO FM during her program and hear her present “You Have To Be There” performed by Helen Sjöholm from the musical “Kristina.” “You Have To Be There” is written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA. Paula Small is a friend of mine that I went to high school with and she moved to Portland and one of the fun things she does out there is host a radio program on the first and third Thursdays of every month for KBOO.
The last time I saw Paula was when she was back in town to visit some family at the end of 2008, so I took Paula to see the Xanadu production at the La Jolla Playhouse, and when I saw her online on Facebook and I said hello using the chat feature of Facebook, we ended up discussing some music. I was so excited about the live album “Kristina At Carnegie Hall” coming out and I’d just gotten it in, I sent her “You Have To Be There” to share my excitement about the show. Paula really liked the song and we both commented about how it starts out similar to “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” but ends up being a much more powerful song. Paula thought it might make a great addition to her show the following night.
Continue reading Paula’s Picks Presents You Have To Be There From Kristina
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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.
Continue reading Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally
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Elaine Paige, often dubbed, “The First Lady Of British Theatre,” for her impressive stage career as one of Britain’s musical theatre stars. Some of the highlights of her career include being the first woman to star as Eva Peron in “Evita” and was the first to ever belt out the song “Memory” from London’s stages in “Cats.”
In addition to her stage career, she hosts a BBC Radio 2 program highlighting music from theatrical shows. On the April 5, 2009 broadcast to mark the 10th anniversary of “Mamma Mia!” on London’s West End, Elaine interviewed Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ABBA to talk about “Mamma Mia!” as well as 25th Anniversary of “Chess” (Benny and Björn’s musical from the 1984 that they co-wrote with Tim Rice and coincidentally also starred Elaine Paige). Elaine joined Benny and Björn at Benny’s Mono Music Studio in Stockholm for the interview portion of the program.
In addition to spending time discussing both “Mamma Mia!” and “Chess” with the boys from ABBA, Elaine also got them to discuss their other musical “Kristina Från Duvemåla.” which up until now has only been in Swedish. One of the highlights from the discussion was the first presentation of “Du Måste Finnas” in English as performed by Helen Sjöholm, who played Kristina in the original Swedish cast. In English, the song is entitled, “You Have To Be There” and the lyrics were said to be a draft version and are not yet set in stone as the final version of it. If everything goes according to plan, New York audiences will be treated to a concert version of the new English translation of the show on September 23 and 24th at Carnegie Hall.
Continue reading Elaine Paige Interviews ABBA’s Benny & Björn on BBC Radio 2
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