Sunday, April 1, 2012
New ABBA Musical Not A Sequel to 'Mamma Mia!'
The long-awaited follow-up to the successful 'Mamma Mia!' stage musical utilizing the songs of ABBA will not be a sequel and will involve a new creative team including director Matthew Warchus. Titled "While The Music Still Goes On," producers announced that twenty-two ABBA songs will be featured and will include the group's hit songs, album cuts, B-sides and songs released as extras on compilations or special editions. The confirmed numbers include:
"I Am The City"
"Another Town, Another Train"
"Two For the Price of One"
"People Need Love"
"Love Isn't Easy (But It Sure Ain't Hard Enough)"
"I've Been Waiting For You"
"Summer Night City"
"Why Did It Have To Be Me"
"You Owe Me One"
"Intermezzo No. 1" (titled "Intermezzo" for the musical)
"Arrival" (new lyrics)
"From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel"
"My Love, My Life"
"Dance (While The Music Still Goes On)"
"The Way Old Friends Do"
In contrast to 'Mamma Mia!' the book of the new musical by American playwright Perry Lawrence ("Old Schoolyard") will not be a comedy but a bittersweet romance between two people who thought that true love for each of them was long lost. They find themselves neighbors when she moves into an apartment in the same brownstone where he resides. They learn they share a common fondness for the music of a '70s group called the Hep Singers (a reference to the Hep Stars and Hootenanny Singers to which Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, respectively, belonged early in their careers) upon which they build a friendship. Of course love finds a way into their lives. They share a secret that ultimately will test their love beyond this world. The action is set to take place in New York City.
One of the supporting characters, a female neighbor of the couple, will be an immigrant from Mexico. Four other characters will include friends and co-workers of the couple. The male lead, named Andrew, is a travel writer and the female lead, named Cassandra, a nurse.
None of the songs used for the 'Mamma Mia!' stage production and movie will be included. Producers announced they want this production utilizing some of ABBA's most profound and dramatic songs to be considered an absolute separate entity. Like 'Mamma Mia', the words to the songs will remain largely unchanged to retain the integrity of Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's lyrics.
From the press release: "Arrival" is an instrumental number from the ABBA album of the same name. Bjorn has penned lyrics for "Arrival" specifically for this musical. Portions of "Arrival" will also be used as an overture. It should be noted that Sarah Brightman recorded a version of "Arrival" with different lyrics on her "Winter Symphony" album also penned by Bjorn and was initially planned for use in "Mamma Mia!". The creative team is proud of the new version that will be a part of "While The Music Still Goes On."
Where 'Mamma Mia!' had a female lead character, this show will be from the male lead character's perspective. Casting will be announced in the coming months. Alexander Hanson (Broadway revival "A Little Night Music" and London Revival "The Sound of Music") is rumored to be linked to the production.
Tentative plans are for an out-of-town tryout in Manchester before arriving in the West End. Producers suggested that they had hoped for a U.S. West Coast premiere before heading to Broadway and then to London. But due to the current economics of Broadway, they felt the best way to nurture the production was to start in the U.K. Visit musicstillgoeson.com for news and updates for the upcoming musical.
(Important Note: If you've read this post so far, you probably know by now all of this is wishful thinking for some April first fun. None of this information is real and none of the persons mentioned is associated with a new musical based on the songs of ABBA. However I really believe there is another musical waiting in the numerous ABBA songs that were not included in 'Mamma Mia!'. Many of their other hit songs and album cuts have the weight to be part of a dramatic story in lieu of a comedy. I've been a longtime fan of the music of ABBA that every one of their CDs is downloaded to my iPhone and iPad. This post, though all in fun, is a hint of what may be possible.)