ABBA dabba -Do it again! ABBA - mania is flying away, taking off in San Jose!

“Momma Mia, here I go again,” - - - ABBA- mania is on the rise again as Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus smash musical phenomenon, “Mamma Mia!”, will rock the South Bay once again with their super-entertaining coming of age love story in the American Musical Theatre of San Jose for one short week only, April 22 through the 27th.

Momma Mia rocks with upbeat nostalgia, 22 great songs, great music, great harmony, with words you can actually hear and understand and relate to and dance to. Wow! The Mamma Mia beat is back again and every time it seems bigger and better than ever! My feelings are once again expressed in the words to the song, “I could never let you go!”

Born in Sweden in the early 70's when Happy Days and Grease were taking America by storm, two primary couples, consisting of Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, came together to form a new group. While Looking for a catchy name for their new group, they tried many ideas, but when they gathered together the first letters of their first names, - ABBA was born. In 1974, the group won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, beating out Olivia Newton-John. ABBA spent the remainder of the decade on top of the charts with sweet syrupy romantic songs and disco oriented dancing music, such as Dancing Queen, Fernando and Mamma Mia. By the late 1970's, their demanding work schedules and financial success began to erode what was once a very nearly perfect love/work story. The wives wanted to travel less to spend more time with their children. Consequently, the group pioneered videos to sell their image more. Their new lyrics and music began to sound hollow and creativity became shadowy and illusive. The pressure became too much and in 1978, Bjorn and Agnetha divorced, followed in 1981 by Benny and Anni-Frid's divorce. Ironically, the acrid bitter-sweet time following their breakups became like fodder for their painfully creative songs of sadness and regrets, spilling out with the ink upon their tear-stained music sheets. Such poignantly and plaintively written songs as S.O. S. and The Winner Takes It All, about love and relationships in trouble, began ironically blending and sending their music back to the top of the charts once again!

The songs are all about personal relationships, and many of these words and feelings have a very familiar ring, such as " - - One of us is crying, one of us is lying, even though we beg, staring at the ceiling, wishing she were somewhere else instead - -, one of us is lonely, one of us this lonely, waiting for a call, sorry for ourselves, feeling stupid, feeling small, wishing she had never left at all, - - -never left at all, staring at the ceiling, wishing she were somewhere else instead, one of us is lonely - feeling sorry for myself ."

In another song, - - "I've been cheated by you since I don't know when, so I made up my mind it must come to an end, - - - Look at me now, will I ever learn, I don't know how but I suddenly lose control, there's a fire within in my soul, - - - Just one look and I can hear a bell ring! One more look and I forget everything, oh - oh - Momma Mia, here I go again! My my, how can I resist ya, Momma Mia, does it show again, my my, just how much I miss you - - just a bit broken hearted, loose as the day we parted, why, why did I ever let you go! Mamma Mia, now I really know, Ma Ma, I could never let you go - - - " The words tell a story, relive an event, pull at our heart strings. This is great heartfelt music. Music born in the hearts and souls of ABBA, music to lift up your soul and send you soaring!

Ulvaeus was in London with his second wife and two daughters when they went to see the musical “Grease”, and it occurred to him that there was an enormous potential for a family oriented musical built around the wonderful songs he and his extended musical family had created as ABBA. But it wasn't until Benny and Bjorn hired Catherine Johnson, who came up with the story centered around the mother and daughter relationship, that the workable story for the previously created music began to take shape.

Set on an imaginary Greek isle, Mamma Mia is a musical story about a lovely young girl, Sophie Sheridan, going through all the excitement and fear and anticipation of her upcoming wedding. Sophie has been waxing long over the fact that she was born out of wedlock and has no father to give her away to her new husband. Unable to elicit any information from her mother about her father, she pilfered a peek through her mother's old diaries and discovered that her mother, Donna, actually had three beaus, any one of whom could very likely be her father. In a moment of wicked inspiration, she wrote letters under her mother's signature, inviting all three to attend "her daughter's wedding". Sophie feels certain that her father's identity would eventually be revealed once they are all together.

"Most of my songs are narratives. Knowing Me, Knowing You was about a divorce," said Ulvaeus. In the show, it is about a father telling his daughter, who's about to be married, what a divorce can do to you. It is a fanciful tale that also reveals to daughter Sophie, a little something special about her mother's youthful exuberance and sexually liberated libido in the 70's. It is also a fun-filled nostalgic reunion with her mother's true and best friends, Tanya and Rosie, who were like family to Sophie as well. Donna, Tanya and Rosie performed as an all female pop-rock group in the 70's. Tanya and Rosie are still brazen and independent and full of the devil and seem to be saying, "age and mileage won't harness these horses!" More than that, it is a tale of women's plans and hopes and failures and strength. Ultimately the show is about the women, the men may appear incidental, but without them there would be no story!

Most of all, Mamma Mia is about having fun, about tapping your toes, clapping hands and maybe even a shout or two! Mamma Mia is a story of life confirming magic, telling us we’re never too old in our hearts to have fun. The acting and music is bound to be terrific. While I do not know who the cast will be in this show, from my experience in seeing this show several times since it opened in San Francisco at the Orpheum in 2000, it has always been terrific.

Mamma Mia is scheduled to open Tuesday, April 22nd and plays Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m., and on Sunday, the last day of their performance locally, there will be a 1 p.m. show and a 6:30 p.m. show in the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts at 255 Almaden Blvd., in San Jose. Ticket prices are a very reasonable $23 to $73 each. Call 1-888-455 SHOW (7469) or visit their web site at for tickets and any additional information.

ABBA has sold over 400,000 million records, making it one of the most popular "pop" groups in musical history. I have their tapes and CD’s and play them often. These are great effervescent songs that will drive you “nuts” repeating themselves over and over in your brain!