DeKALB – The ABBA Show’s first ever tour in the United States and DeKalb included four DeKalb High School student musicians, and was an absolute blast to watch. The performance started at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St.
Reilly Farrell played the violin and said he “was not expecting how up-beat performance was.” Betsy Benisek played the viola while accompanying ABBA’s vocals. Jordan Weiss, who said she “was a fan of ABBA going into the event,” played the violin. Devin Snow played the cello and added a nice sound to the songs.
“The orchestra was amazing and the best we ever played with,” Marie Follet, who played ABBA vocalist Anni-Frid Lyngstad, said. “They were so young too and must be the youngest we played with.”
“The [students] only were given the songs two weeks before playing,” Andy Marshall, who played ABBA guitarist Björn Ulvaeus, confirmed. It was hard to tell that they had so little preparation because of the performance they gave.
“We reached out to the high school and asked if they had anybody that could play at this level,” Follet explained. “We were happy to hear that [they] did!”
The performance itself was broken into different genres of music. It had a ballad section, disco section and rock section. The sectioning of genres helped the flow of the show.
The musicians acted like and felt like the original ABBA members. They called themselves by the original band member’s names throughout the show. The ABBA Show’s performance that night sounded arguably better than the original ABBA recordings because it was live.
They all sang and played very well throughout the performance. The singing was emotional during the ballads, but full of energy during the disco songs. Follet and Natalie Eaton, who played ABBA vocalist Agnetha Fältskog, smiled and were active throughout each song.
The three songs including “The Winner Takes it All,” where they included the student musicians, let the performers shine. The inclusion of the stringed instruments added to the sound.
Between most of the songs, the performers talked to the audience to make them laugh or to get them involved. Even though they have only been in the area for five days, they mentioned Chicago and neighboring areas.
In the second half of the show where they sang the disco style music, ABBA encouraged people to get up and dance with them. They taught audience members dance moves and let everybody be a “dancing queen.” By the end of the show almost everybody in the audience was up dancing, jumping, and singing along.
The dancing helped people warm up, because the theatre itself was very cold. The theatre provided blankets for people and offered free refills for hot drinks, including coffee, cider and hot chocolate.
The cold did not stop the multiple costume changes by Follet and Eaton. Their multiple costumes included wedding dresses, capes and other dresses.
Sadly, some audience members missed the final performance that included the student performers. Eaton told the audience their last song was “Dancing Queen,” but ended up singing “Thank You For The Music,” before closing out the event with the orchestra. Some of the audience members left the theatre during “Dancing Queen,” before hearing the student’s last performance.
Weiss thought her experience was “really fun,” and was smiling when she left the event. Ferrell was “ecstatic” when he heard the news that he could be a part of the event and was not let down.