LONDON (Reuters) - If singing along to ABBA classics on the “Mamma Mia!” soundtrack is not enough, fans have the chance to perform alongside 3-D, holographic versions of the Swedish quartet at a new exhibition dedicated to them.
ABBAWORLD, opening on Wednesday at London’s Earls Court, aims to cash in on the ABBA craze, with Mamma Mia! already Britain’s biggest-selling DVD and a musical of the same name filling theatres around the world. Members of the band at the opening night late on Tuesday said the 25-room display, featuring original costumes, film footage and memorabilia from their heyday, was more “down to earth” than some visitors might expect.
“It’s unexpected, it’s less glamorous, I think, than people probably expect but very true to the story,” Bjorn Ulvaeus told Reuters on the red carpet.
Bandmate Anni-Frid Lyngstad agreed. “It’s very down to earth in a way which I like really because it’s like how we started, humble people, doing the things we liked a lot and eventually had a great success with,” she said.
“It’s nice to kind of come back to where it once began.”
With the backing of the band, which has declined to reform and tour despite pressure from fans and financiers eyeing potentially huge profits, the exhibition will tour the world.
The choice of London as a launch point is partly explained by ABBA’s enduring popularity in the country.
Exhibition organizers said the group went global in Britain, rather than their native Sweden, with the triumph of their song “Waterloo” at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974.
ABBA’s music plays throughout, with hits like “Dancing Queen” and “The Winner Takes It All” reminders of what made the band of two couples, now divorced, one of the most successful acts in pop history with sales approaching 400 million records.
The band broke up in the 1980s.
Also featured is the seaside cabin where band members composed some of ABBA’s greatest hits and even a helicopter like the one featured on the cover of the “Arrival” album.
Interactive elements include quizzes, a mixing desk and the hologram singalong. Mats Daleskog of Touring Exhibitions, the company behind Abbaworld, said the music was designed to create an emotional response.
“With ABBA, it’s the songs that make it, it’s the memories — we’re trying to create some kind of a roller coaster of emotions coming in here with a sing-a-long, with the technique available today,” he said.
Adult tickets to the show cost from around 20 pounds ($32) each, and the exhibition runs until March 28.
Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison