Review by Matthew Hocter
ABBA seems to be everywhere these days. Musicals, Movies and of course the never ending slew of cover bands and shows paying homage to a band that disbanded nearly forty years ago. In Australia, two iconic and cult classics, Priscilla Queen of The Desert and Muriel’s Wedding, both released back in 1994, can be thanked in great part for reigniting interest in ABBA’s music, and let's be honest, it has not waned one little bit since.
I can’t lie, ABBA is not my go to for a musical wind down. But when you have two of Australia’s finest performers, the legendary Rhonda Burchmore and drag luminary Trevor Ashley, putting their names behind something as camp as ABBAsolutely Fabulous, you know you are in for a treat. Judging from the sold out matinee show, ABBA’s music, along with Burchmore and Ashley’s talent, are all things in great demand and clearly loved by people of all ages.
The banter between the two was thick, fast and occasionally naughty. Ashley’s innuendos and humour are sharp, witty and intelligent and compliment Burchmores gentle, but enticing story telling, bridging her love for the Swedish bands music to the show itself. The connection wasn’t just about the music though, it was also for the two friends on stage who were clearly savouring every moment, beautifully demonstrated when they sang “Chiquitita.”
With all the classics taking their turn in the spotlight like, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!,” “Mamma Mia,”` “Fernando” and “Thank you for the Music,” the moment of the afternoon most definitely belonged to Burchmore with her solo take on “The Winner Takes It All.” Through all the campery and kitsch, we were reminded of Burchmore’s star power and just why she is regarded as Australia’s ultimate show girl.
One of the greatest joys about seeing live music is watching those in attendance and how they react to the performance in front of them. From the moment that Burchmore and Ashley took to the stage, there was a complete overhaul of energy in the room. Sure, people were there to hear the music, but it’s impossible to negate the importance of those that delivered said music.
As “Dancing Queen” closed the show, barely a bum was left on a seat as people flocked to the aisles dancing and revelling in the moment, something that has been absent from our lives over the last two years. Whilst ABBA’s music may not be to everyone’s liking, the joy that permeated throughout that theatre was undeniable and that in itself is the power of live music and pure, unadulterated connectedness.