I have a dream | 13 april 2004
April 6, 2009 - From our correspondent in Brighton:
It's been ten years since the hugely successful Mamma Mia musical was performed for the very first time. Currently it still runs in 19 theatres throughout the world on every continent. More than 23 million people have seen the show and most performances are sold out long before the actual performance. In fact every single hour of the day the musical is being performed somewhere on this planet.
And that calls for a celebration. And with celebrations you get celebrities. In this case you get the former members of ABBA. Not all of course. Usually only Björn attends festivities like this, but when there is a true media hype, Benny and Frida also walk the red carpet. The other former ABBA member, Agnetha, has never even been to one premiere or Mamma Mia party. Not even in ABBA's hometown Stockholm in 2005. But the other three are still going strong and they autograph ABBA records and kindly pose for pictures.
Their fans are getting old and grey as well. Most of them are in their forties, some are very close to being fifty, some are even older. Quite a lot of the hard core fans have been a fan for 35 years. That's a long time. A very, very long time.
Don't these people have a life of their own? Obviously not. What strikes me is that being an ABBA fan certainly can't be a full time job. The very last exciting ABBA record was the 1994 box set that included a couple of previously unreleased songs. But after that only a handful of tv-performances have been released as bonuses on the eight ABBA studio albums.
Universal, the record company, has polished the old video clips, remastered the back catalogue a couple of times and pulled all the marketing tricks you could imagine. Not a single group from the ancient pop history has had more media coverage with yet another new compilation album.
And what about solo records? Actually, Agnetha's latest record is from 2004, Frida's last record is from 1996 and the last couple of years songwriter duo Björn and Benny completely focussed on their Kristina musical. Sadly it completely flopped in London and New York in 2007 and 2008. Most people thought they would get a Mamma Mia sequel and boy were they wrong!
But now the former ABBA members are back with a vengeance. And they're back where it all started 35 years ago: in Brighton. The Dome still stages the Mamma Mia musical, four years after it left London. The former ABBA members go on stage after the final chords of their classic Dancing queen. They bow, speak a couple of nice words to the audience and seem overwhelmed by the media attention they still get.
And their fans? They shout and clap and buy every newly released ABBA item. For them nothing ever changes and it seems they are glad that they have witnessed yet another historic ABBA night.