Helen Sjöholm and Russell Watson to star in Kristina concerts

Helen Sjöholm and Russell Watson will headline the concert version of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ musical Kristina at Carnegie Hall. The show, directed by Lars Rudolfsson, will feature 32 actors and a 50-piece orchestra conducted by Paul Gemignani. It plays at Carnegie Hall on September 23 and 24.

Kristina features music and lyrics by ABBA songwriting partners Andersson and Ulvaeus, who also created the musical Chess and the worldwide sensation Mamma Mia!, and English lyrics by Ulvaeus and Herbert Kretzmer. Originally titled Kristina från Duvemåla, the musical premiered in the creators’ native Sweden in 1995 and ran for almost four years, winning four Guldmasken Theatre Awards (Sweden’s Tony). Based on The Emigrants series of novels by Vilhelm Moberg, Kristina tells the epic story of a family’s migration from Sweden to America in the mid-19th century. A concert version was performed in Swedish in 1996 in Minneapolis, where many events in the novels take place.

Ticket sales start on 31 May 2009.  A cast recording of the concert will be available on the Decca arm of Universal Music.

33 Comments on "Helen Sjöholm and Russell Watson to star in Kristina concerts"

  • Russell Watson?
    Good grief–no disrespect to the man, but he is hardly an actor. It may be a concert but these songs need to be properly ‘sold’.
    I think that is a slightly disappointing casting decision–hope I am proved wrong.
    Thank the lord for Helen.

  • Wow. Really good to see that Helen is going to sing. AND there is going to be a recording of it!
    Good for us who are not able to attend.

  • I’d rather Russell Watson than some Broadway actor that I’ve never heard of. And the more I think about it and re-listen to Mr. Watson, the more I think it’s a great choice. ‘Stanna’ and ‘Vildgras’ or rather their equivalents in English should be amazing.

    I’m relieved both main parts will go to Europeans, it will help keep the flavour of the original.

    I’m incredibly excited still and looking forward to the rest of the cast news. Then the rush for my ticket can commence…

  • Russell Watson is one of my favourite singers ever! He is an AWESOME choice for the part. WOWW!!!

  • Seems an odd choice, but I guess B&B know what they’re doing. Does anyone know if Russell Watson is well-known in the US? I’m just wondering if this is going to make it harder to get tickets.

  • Oh thank god for Helen, the one and only Kristina! Now I am excited about this! And while I certainly won’t be able to attend the concerts themselves, I’m really looking forward to finally get a Kristina in Concert CD, featuring Helen Sjöholm!
    And who knows, maybe they’ll also film it?

  • Helen Sjöholm and Lars Rudolfsson at least, so what happened to Anders Eljas? Does anyone know? It’s a long time ago that he worked with B&B, apparently because there was no orchestra needed. But now? Is it part of the contract that American artists should be part of it, remember the struggle with "Chess" in London – there were some doubts about Swedish singers before…

  • The wonderful Helen.Prayers are answered.I was dreading anyone else in that role.I’m so glad it’s going to be recorded.
    Interesting that Russell Watson is also performing.Glad to see he is much better now after his illness.I wonder if this is to open Kristina up to a wider UK audience given what Bjron and Benny said about staging it in London on the Elaine Paige show.
    I also wonder if Peter Joback will appear given the fact that he is living in New York at present.
    What an amazing year.All this excitement over new songs,BAB,Agnetha and Frida appearing together and now Kristina with Helen.Am I dreaming all this?

  • Sorry Bjorn,I typed your name wrong in my post.
    It’s the thought of Helen returning as Kristina and in english also 🙂

  • Great news about Helen coming to America, it`s been a long journey for Kristina coming to America.
    I saw 2 concerts of Kristina in Minnesota in 1996 but never thought Helen will come back for the English version .
    What a great decision of B+B .
    I like the voice of Russel Watson, seems he`ll be great with Helen.
    PETER JOBACK is living in NYC at present?
    Is he in any Broadway show by any chance?
    Does anyone know, what`s he doing in America?

  • im over the moon that helen sjoholm is going to be in the ENGLISH version!!!!!! as much as i soooo love the swedish version and everything else helen has done….i just so want to book 2 tickets and the plane for new york NOW!!!!! what a year 2009 is turning out to be for my gods…benny and bjorn.

  • Wow, Russel Watson thats a real surprise I hadnt even heard rumours! However the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. He is obviously already world famous in musical theatre, and I think his voice could sit well with Helen’s. If Kristina is ever going to open as a full scale production in either US or UK this 2 night concert version has to be well received by not only us loyal and loving fans but by the critics and public at large.
    Roll on 23rd September!

  • What a great choice in Russell. Handsome, European, great set of pipes with a really nice tone and most importantly very experienced in live performance and has a ready-made fan base! Can’t wait for Stanna, Vildgras etc and what will be fabulous duets with Helen. Gosh, we’re so lucky! 🙂

  • Russell is obviously a carefully considered choice. It’s important to have a ‘name’ onboard this project to open it up to a wider audience and he has quite a fanbase. Helen is wonderful of course but is pretty much unknown still outside of Scandinavia so there’s a nice balance.

  • Hi, I’d never heard of this show before, but being a big Russell fan, have booked the flights/hotels and am really looking forward to this.
    Russell has appeared in a stage show before, War of the Worlds, as Parson Nathanial. He was ill at the time, so all credit to him that he completed the tour.
    For anyone who has never heard him live, The Voice is awesome!! and he’s not bad looking either!! Check out YouTube.

  • I ‘ve always been sure Helen would have played Kristina in NYC and I’m positevely surprised about Russel Watson casting.. I’ve always liked his voice when he approaches pop repertoire (especially in songs like "Where my heart will take me") as much I can’t stand his versions of italian old songs.. being italian I can say his accent is terrible as most crossover singers (except for Josh Groban) and I’m sure he will be a great Karl Oskar.

  • I say Thank God for Russell Watson. I’ve been waiting for Russell to do a musical since he performed on stage in the UK tour of War of the Worlds on April 29, 2006. Andrew Lloyd Weber chose Russell Watson to play the part of Parson Nathaniel. and altho Russell was ill at the time, he was a trooper, and made it through with flying colors. Since then he has had two, not one, but two life saving brain tumor operations. I say kudos to Russell, and I cannot wait for his performance in this musical. He just finished a sellout UK concert tour. He is the best tenor since Pavarotti. He feeds off his audience and give them 110 percent of himself always. If you don’t know who Russell Watson is, check him out on you tube, and his sites, you won’t forget him, once you have heard him. I expect this to be a sold out two nites and I will be there to watch, so exciting!!!

  • I had heard that either Benny or Bjorn were in Manchester, England on the night of The Eurovision Sond Contest. Could it be that they were meeting with Russell Watson to finalise things? He is from Manchester after all…

  • This is going to be like a dream come true for me as I’ve been dying to see & hear Russell Watson for a long, long time. To me, he is a great choice to sing with Helen. I did get a chance to see Helen on You Tube and love her voice, too, so they will be perfect together. I can’t wait to order my tickets. Lucky for me I live only 2 hours from New York City.

  • In the UK, Russell Watson has had several Hit
    Albums, over the Years, but he’s lost popularity
    in the last 2 Years.
    His last 4 Albums have Peaked at:, 14, 17, 34, &
    20. A clear fall in UK interest in him. 4 of
    his 6 earlier Albums Peaked at:, 6, 10, 2, & 4.
    So, I don’t know whether it is a mistake for
    Benny & Bjorn to link up with someone who has
    lost a lot of UK Fans, or whether their Songs
    in ‘Kristina…’ are so terrific, that Russell
    will regain his Fans, due to the connection.

  • For those who have not heard Russell sing you will be blown away by his voice. Over the past two years he has fought back from two brain tumours and is now back to his best.

  • As I live in New York, it is astounding to me that "Kristina" is either A) an almost entirely unknown piece (largely because many believe musical theater began with "Billy Elliot" and that, to them, is the must-see show of the millenium; B) a curiosity that will doubtless be a sequel to "Mamma Mia", or C) "Something by the ABBA guys that will probably be as weird as ‘Chess’".

    I’ll be interested to see what the line is like at Carnegie Hall tomorrow when I get their at about ten in the morning. If it’s anything like the first day of ticket sales for productions at the Met, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who will be shut out if they haven’t scored a ticket by tomorrow night.

    I really can’t call this one. "Mamma Mia" had a huge publicity roll out the
    moment Meryl Streep signed on but Helen’s name here is about as well known as Molberg’s who they believe is the name of a European beer.

    Just smoke those phone lines and never say die.

  • ….Heck I don’t even know who Russel Watson is??!!!

  • Gerry wrote in to point out what might have been a typo in Glenn Korbel’s comment (2 above this).

    Of course, it’s Moberg and not Molberg – the latter may well be a European beer 😉

  • Reply to Colin above.
    Russell has 4 Classical Brit awards, multi-platinum selling albums and has just completed a 19 date UK sellout UK tour. He was the first (and only) Brit to occupy the No.1 spot in the Classical charts in the UK and US simultaneously.
    I will agree his last few albums have not sold so well, but there are a lot more people in the ‘classical crossover’ arena now and 2 of the recent albums had no classical content at all. If you visit his sites(www.russell-watson.com or http://www.russellwatsonuk.com) you will find his fan base is as strong as ever.
    He even sang at and ran the BUPA Great Manchester Run on May 17th on behalf of Kirsty Howard.

  • Welcome to all the Russell Watson fans. Nice to have you along for the exciting ride!

  • In reference to Colin’s message above, Russell’s fan base is extremely strong and active ! Poor chap could hardly be No1 whilst undergoing surgery for two brain ops ! He will be fantastic in the show because he always gives 100 per cent of himself in whatever he does. He will have plenty of support from UK.

  • Here, here, Doreen.
    He has fans coming from Australia, Japan, UK and all over the US to see this.

    Suggest you listen to his version of Music of The Night, there are several versions on YouTube. It’s a show stopper.

  • In response to Marco saying "Heck I don’t even know who Russel Watson is??!!!" – Once upon a time, I didn’t know who Anders Ekborg and Helen Sjöholm were and look how they turned out in Kristina…

    Keep an open mind – especially if you don’t know Russell Watson. Björn and Benny wouldn’t place their baby in unsafe hands.

    Lidingö Mats

  • "Kristina" has such a quintessentially beautiful score that Ethel Merman could have played the lead role and it would still could have been achingly beautiful.

    Anybody here think Meryl Streep would be the right choice to star in the film version of the musical when a year or two before it premiered.

    There are some shows that are simply "cast-proof": "Les Miserables" was one; the Phantom was another. I would have like to have seen Hugh Panaro as Karl Oscar but maybe the timing isn’t right.

    It’s a major plus to have a leading man who is comfortable with English.

    As I understand it, the backers of "Billy Elliot" really sweated out the possible down side of American kids trying to nail an English accent. I also remember hearing somewhere that Helen at first wasn’t keen on having to learn the part in English.

    The Renee Flemings of this world are rare. It’s tough enough to be a diva
    with your own language, let alone in another.

  • By the way, any "pop" singer who could even do a passable "Nessun Dorma" will have no trouble with Karl’s role.

  • By the way, any "pop" singer who could even do a passable "Nessun Dorma" will have no trouble with Karl’s role.

  • As you suggested I took a look at YouTube, and I think he has a wonderful voice. The duet’s between him and Helen will be awsome.

    I don’t see merlyn in the role of Kristina, she is one of the greatest on the screen but for Kristina sh is to old. A matter of fact there is a movie already about kristina, The emigrants with Liv Ullman as Kristina. If they would ever make a film of the musical then they need a young actrice because kristina was very yong when she got married to Karl Oscar. And she died young too.

    But let’s go and see the concert first see you in NY.

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