Gimme ABBA: Mania pays tribute to the great Swedish rock/pop group

click to enlarge Gimme ABBA: Mania pays tribute to the great Swedish rock/pop group
(Mark Senior/Submitted)
In the tribute show Mania, performers from around the world portray ABBA band members. The tour will visit the Mesa Arts Center on Saturday, March 4.

Swedish rock/pop group ABBA rose to fame in 1974 with its song “Waterloo” and continued with “The Winner Takes It All,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Fernando,” “Dancing Queen” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight).”

The group’s music inspired the popular jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!”

London-based Mania: The ABBA Tribute gives audiences a full ABBA experience, complete with choreography and music inspired by the group.

The tour will visit Tucson’s Rialto Theatre on Friday, March 3, and the Mesa Arts Center on Saturday, March 4.

The tribute show was founded in 1999 and had its first performances in 2000. It received the 2002 Radio Regenbogen Award for Best Musical and has been performed in London’s West End.

In 2004, performers from the show were featured during a TV special honoring the anniversary of “Waterloo,” which was broadcast throughout Europe and included ABBA band members and “Mamma Mia!” stars.

In the tribute show, performers from around the world portray ABBA band members Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson.

Liverpool-born Alison Ward, who portrays Fältskog, has a mathematics degree from Leeds University, but she has performed most of her life. She has recorded original music and toured in Germany and appeared in music videos and TV shows on the BBC and MTV. Along with the ABBA tribute, she also does a solo show “All by Myself” on cruise ships, where she performs different genres of music.

Ward joined the ABBA tour in 2010.

Growing up, she listened to ABBA songs, but doing the tribute has given her an even greater appreciation for the band.

Describing herself as a “big fan,” Ward watched videos online to prepare for the Mania gig.

“Watching clips of ABBA in the past, videos that were available to watch them perform, it was quite good to be able to get into the ABBA vibe a lot easier,” Ward says.

In portraying Fältskog, Ward works hard to stay true to her movements, vocal style and choreography.

“I try to keep it to how she did the songs, very accurate to her. The same with the dance moves. I don’t get too carried away because she always did smaller steps, very simple dance moves,” Ward says.

The costumes, too, fit with the group and time period.

“We try to re-enact as much as we can to make it as realistic as possible,” Ward says.

The show highlights ABBA’s greatest hits, along with one lesser song called “I’ve Been Waiting for You.” Ward is featured on this song.

“It’s such a beautiful song that I love to perform,” Ward says.

During one emotional portion of the show, Ward sings the hit song “Winner Takes It All.”

“It’s quite a big moment. It’s quite a dramatic song. I try and make sure I portray it as she did,” Ward says.

Although she has been performing in the show for over a decade, Wards still enjoys singing ABBA’s music every night.

“I’ve been doing these songs for nearly 14 years, and honestly, I’m not bored of them in any way,” Ward says.

The performances often have a party vibe where audiences respond to their favorite songs.

“Everyone is so lovely. Everyone loves the music, supports it. They all want to meet us after the show,” Ward says.

“It’s guaranteed the audience will have a great time and will be joining in with all of the dancing and singing.”

Mania: The ABBA Tribute

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, March 3

WHERE: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street, Tucson

COST: Tickets start at $27.50

INFO: 520-740-1000,

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4

WHERE: Ikeda Theater, Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa

COST: Tickets start at $25

INFO: 480-644-6560,

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