at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London
“an electrifying and upbeat show - a genuine feel-good event”
There was an emotional introduction before the show - as the theatre owner came onstage to welcome the audience back into the building after a long, hard, scary eighteen months. The West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre opened with a show that cannot fail to please - provided you don’t mind tapping your feet, clapping along, singing the songs, standing up to dance and partying!
The reduced seating - due to social distancing - did not prevent it being a full house to greet the cast of ABBA MANIA (so proud of itself that the show’s title is in capital letters). These are the production’s first West End performances in nineteen years and after this there is a full UK tour in the autumn then it's off touring to the USA, Russia and France.
ABBA MANIA is everything you would expect and want from a tribute concert - the hits, the sounds, the concert feel. And the quartet definitely sound like Abba, only showing their musical theatre roots in some of the solos. Rhiannon Porter is Agnetha, JoJo Desmond is Frida, Edward Handoll is Björn and Loucas Hajiantoni is Benny (also holding everything together as Musical Director) - a tight musical unit that encourages the audience to get up and dance. With masks on, no one knows if you can sing in tune or even know the words - so it’s a bonus being covered up! The backing band are excellent, too: Anders Rye on lead guitar, Dan Hall on bass guitar and Paul Gregory on drums.
Personally, I could have done without the panto-like splitting of the audience into two for a silly singing competition (unnecessary when the audience is simply gagging for more songs to sing-along to), nor the bizarre references about the band members being married to each other when some of the songs were written after both marriages broke down. Is this being nit-picky?
I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy the whole evening. Turning around, watching the audience laugh and dance, releasing so much tension.
ABBA MANIA is an electrifying and upbeat show - a genuine feel-good event. To get everyone in the mood for reaching out and returning to the theatre, there cannot be a better way to bring a smile to your face - catch it if you can. But take a friend. Take two! Take many - they’ll ‘thank you for the music’.
Photography Mark Senior
Producers Todd Littlewood (TAL Entertainment), Guy Chapman and Handshake Ltd
Choreographer Tamsin Stewart
Supervisor Duncan Walsh Atkins
Tickets Tickets are available priced from £14.50 - £50.80 plus booking fees at
Performances until Sunday 6th June 2021
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - 7.30pm
Fridays - 5.00pm and 8.00pm (except Friday 21st May which only has a
Saturdays - 3.00pm and 7.30pm
Sundays - 3.00pm (no performance on Sunday 30th May)
Location Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP