Mamma Mia, here we go again!


Arrival from Sweden

Back to celebrate the opening of another jam-packed season at Chautauqua, piano riffs, synth, pulsing disco lights and eye-catching sequins that harken back to a bygone era will take over the Amphitheater stage as Arrival from Sweden performs the music of ABBA on Saturday at 8:15 p.m.

Celebrating classic hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” and “Voulez-vouz.”

Arrival from Sweden has carried on ABBA’s iconic legacy as a licensed tribute band since 1995.

“We get bigger and bigger every year, so I think we’re doing something good,” said founding member Victoria Norback. “We do ABBA just like ABBA did ABBA back in the day. It’s a trip back to the ’70s.”

Vice President and Director of Programming Marty Merkley chose the show as an upbeat and uplifting way to start the season, and he is confident
Arrival From Sweden will buoy the audience.

“Everybody has a good time, and everybody will be out dancing and singing along with it, so that’s why they’re opening the season,” he said. “They’re really high quality. Everything about them from the music, the presentation, the costumes … everything is licensed, everything must be the way it was.”

The magic of “the way it was” is a sentiment understood by Chautauquans young and old, as the success of both the musical and the movie, Mamma Mia, and spin-off bands like the A-Teens attest, the music and culture surrounding ABBA has remained relevant to diverse audiences well after the band’s break-up in 1982.

“Everyone knows about ABBA, they know the ABBA songs … the children also know the songs,” Norback said. “I hope people bring the whole family, and they can dress up in ABBA clothes.”

Arrival from Sweden works tirelessly to keep the disco band’s tradition alive, spending over half the year abroad.

They have performed in 56 countries and have been on tour in the United States 35 times, making this summer their 36th. Norback credits the audience with making each show memorable, and the crowd is encouraged to dance and sing along with the band in their recreation of the ABBA experience.

“I like to be onstage, to see the people, to see the audience,”  Norback said. “They are so into it.”

But emulating one of the world’s most legendary groups is not without its challenges, as the band is expected to match up exactly with instruments, outfits and voices made famous by ABBA.

“It’s really hard to do ABBA justice,” Norback said. “And of course all of the songs are fantastic, the music is good and it’s high quality and the musicians ABBA used back in the seventies were the best musicians at that time. So it’s really, really a challenge to do an ABBA show.”

According to Merkley, selecting Amphitheater performances is a juggling act, between scheduling, finding the right price point and
focusing on what the audience will enjoy, especially taking into account the 50 percent of Amp tickets sold outside of the Chautauquan community.

“You try to pick something that appeals to the Chautauquans as a whole that are here on vacation, but then you’ve got to try to pick something from outside the community that you hope people will like,” Merkley said. “ABBA has always been incredibly popular here. Everybody knows the songs, most people have seen the movie, many people have gone to the Broadway show which ran for 20-something years … so it’s a
phenomenon.”

Saturday night when the lights are low, Chautauquans looking for a way to celebrate their return can dance and jive while having the time of their lives.