First it was Abba - The Movie. Now it's Abba, the musical.
Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of two men in the quartet of Swedish singers who first galvanized the pop music scene in 1974 (and the theatre scene in the 1980s with Chess) and had several international hits before disbanding in the '80s, recently told a Swedish travel magazine that some 25 of their songs -- including "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "Fernando" -- would be featured in a stage show, which Ulvaeus hopes will have its world premiere in England in the spring of 1999.
The show's working title is Summer Night City, and the main characters are a mother and her daughter.
Abba's other male singer, Benny Andersson, will most likely take part in the production work for the show, said Ulvaeus.
Andersson and Ulvaeus are currently basking in the success of Kristina from Duvemala, a musical about Swedish emigrants to the U.S. in the 19th century. The musical, which has been playing to packed houses in western Sweden for several months, opens in Stockholm in February. The U.S. premiere of the work -- a no-frills concert version -- was given in Minneapolis on Oct. 12, 1996, and Abba fans are still hoping for a full-fledged Broadway and/or West End production. A decade and a half ago, Andersson and Ulvaeus wrote the music for Chess to lyrics by Tim Rice, with a storyline based on a real-life confrontation between American and Soviet grand masters of the board game. An international best-selling recording of Chess was released in 1984; among the work's several hit singles was "One Night in Bangkok."
Chess did not score so well on Broadway, however. The show, with a book by Richard Nelson based on Rice's initial idea, opened on April 28, 1988 and closed two months later.
-- By Rebecca Paller