ABBA creators Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus joined the original Mamma Mia! leading lady, Louise Pitre, Helen Sjöholm and Kevin Odekirk to dicuss their upcoming concert version of the show "Kristina" at Carnegie Hall September 23 and 24.
With the commercial success of Mamma Mia! and Chess to their credit, excitement is at a peak for the upcoming concert. Broadway.tv and Broadway Magazine took time to talk with the stars and creators.
"It’s a musical that we wrote originally in Swedish. It’s based on a very famous Swedish novel about immigrants going to the U.S. in the 1850s. So, it’s kind of a universal story for most Europeans," says ABBA member and Kristina co-creator Björn Ulvaeus. The concert at Carnegie Hall will be the first performance of the work in English.
"I feel like it is my payback, for having done Mamma Mia! for so long, and now to be called to do this incredible piece of work. This is a score on the scale of ‘Chess.’ It’s the kind of music that moves me," reflects Louise Pitre.
"We were sitting actually a year and a half ago having breakfast with Gerry Schoenfeld and we talked about this and I said ‘You know, we would love to do a concert of ‘Kristina’ here in New York.’ He said, ‘Well, where do you want to be?’ and we said ‘I think the Carnegie Hall.’ And he said, ‘You want me to call?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you do that.’
So, he picked up his phone and two minutes later we were up at the Carnegie Hall talking to the people up there," explains Benny Anderson as to how this concert production arrived at Carnegie Hall.
"It’s the story of the founding of America. It’s all our ancestors, where they came from… it’s unabashedly grand in scale," says Kevin Odekirk describing the musical Kristina.
"At first, of course, it’s ‘wow, the ABBA guys,’ but eventually its two great composers and lyric makers and I just respect them very much," says star Helen Sjöholm who plays the title character in Kristina. "It’s not Mamma Mia!," says Benny Andersson about Kristina.
Not that the former members of ABBA are not thrilled with the tremendous success their musical Mamma Mia! has had on Broadway, in London, on movie screens and on stages around the globe. The show recently became the 13th longest running show in Broadway history, and shows no signs of slowing down.
"When we put the lid on ABBA in 1982 we thought ‘maybe a year,’ the record sales would trickle down to 0 in ’84, and we thought that would be it. But then we were wrong," smiles Benny Andersson.
"It’s been wonderful," reflects ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus on the success of ABBA and Mamma Mia!.
Clearly not content to rest on their laurels, these successful artists now bring forward Kristina for two nights only in concert at Carnegie Hall. Directed by Lars Rudolfsson and backed by the 50 piece American Theatre Orchestra conducted by Tony Award winner Paul Gemignani, KRISTINA arrives at Carnegie Hall on September 23 and 24, 2009. Given the productions pedigree, could a Broadway run be far off?