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ABBA (article first published : 2006-01-27)

When four good-looking Swedish singers came fourth in the 1973 Eurovision song contest with a number called Ring Ring, a legend was born. An acronym of their first names, ABBA was made up of two married couples: Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus with Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson.

ABBA went on to astound the world with an impressive range of hit numbers and remained in the forefront of contemporary music until 1992, despite both marriages ending in divorce. Their music is still enjoyed worldwide, and the recent smash hit musical Mamma Mia! is proof of the enduring quality of their music.

Now running at the Dockyard Supper Theatre at the harbour entrance, ABBA is a re-run of a successful earlier Dockyard production. This time round, Stuart Mey has wisely accepted that it’s almost impossible to direct a show if you’re in it and handed over the role of front man to Dave Arnold who takes the character of a present-day older Bjorn Ulvaeus. Dave introduces the performers and musicians as younger members of the ABBA family – a nice touch! An experienced artiste, Dave narrates the show with suitable Swedish-accent, providing an amusing banter as he introduces the numbers and charts both the professional and personal journey of the foursome.

The show benefits considerably from Stuart’s observant eye, with the vocalists being placed more effectively as the show progresses. A better lighting design and staging adds to a more professional “picture” and this is definitely the best show at the Dockyard to date. In ABBA, the back-up musicians are set to one side and this has no doubt made it easier to create a better sound balance as I had far fewer gripes about the sound mix.

Looking very much like Agnetta and Frida, Karen Wood and Nicky Mey handle the female vocals with aplomb and they are well supported by Paul Cassells as Benny and Marcus Fairall as Bjorn. The band is well-knit with Musa Vincent Mtetwa (keyboards), David Knott (guitar), Andy Turrell (bass guitar) and Ian Webster (drums). Musical Director Bruce Broome has ensured the accurate ABBA sound.

While it’s very much an ensemble piece, one of the highlights was undeniably The Winner Takes it All, powerfully and poignantly presented by Karen Wood.

Tickets R150 include the two-course meal. The Dockyard offers a starter and main course. Starters include a Neptune Salad which I chose but would have preferred the mayonnaise dressing on the side. Other options are Crumbed Button Mushrooms and 'Tato Skins with Cheese and Bacon. Main course options are grilled Sirloin Steak (my husband’s choice although the onion rings were forgotten until later); grilled or fried Calamari (which I chose and enjoyed); Crumbed Chicken Breasts with Garlic Creamed Potatoes and the vegetarian option of homemade Lasagne with Mushrooms and Onions. Desserts are an optional extra at a further R20 and include Dockyard’s famous Bar-One cake, Peach Melba and Amarula Dom Pedro.

Bookings through Karen on 031 332 1086 or Computicket. A cash bar is also on offer. – Caroline Smart

It was pouring with rain tonight and in the confusion, we left the vehicle’s lights on. So when we came to leave, the battery was stone dead – and the car’s alarm system was complaining vociferously! Many thanks to Dave Arnold for giving me a lift home so that I could get the review out in my normal time and to the Point Community Policing Service who arrived and jump-started the vehicle ten minutes after I left. The AA indicated that it would be 45 to 90 minutes before they could get to him – rather strange for an incident happening in central Durban!




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