Arts of the UK 2019/20: ABBA – Super Troupers The Exhibition at the O2 (Preview)
LONDON – ABBA fans in London have a lot to go Mamma Mia! about – a brand new immersive and interactive exhibition arrives at the O2 this December and explores each of the band’s eight albums and the wider socio-political backdrop against which they were released.
Occupying a 14,000 square foot space within London’s home of music, ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition brings to life the world of chart-topping Swedish pop sensation ABBA (Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid (“Frida”) Lyngstad) in an experience that charts their music, lyrics, creative process and influence as one of the most iconic pop bands of the modern age.
Conceptualised and curated by Jude Kelly CBE, a renowned theatre director and former artistic director at The Southbank Centre (2006-2018), the ABBA-approved exhibition charts the meteoric rise of ABBA from their dazzling Eurovision win in 1974 at the Brighton Dome, introducing “Waterloo” to the world, which would go on to become their first UK chart-topper. The exhibition then takes visitors to the heart of the journey of each band member, following each of their personal and professional lives across their 8 multi-million selling albums.
Incorporating lyrics, costumes, instruments, experiential backdrops of the key events and locations that defined and shaped the band, album artwork, photography, film and more, fans are in for a treat with personal artefacts from each musician’s youth that provide an insight into their pre-ABBA lives, including Björn’s school report, his military book and photographs from his time in service, and pictures of a 13-year-old Frida in a jazz band as a beatnik teenager.
Look out for key items from the height of the band’s heyday, reflecting on both the personal – such as a collection of behind the scenes photos taken of the band on their ‘77 Australian “Arrival” tour – and the professional, with iconic items from the height of their success, including a limited-edition replica of the ‘Star Guitar’ played at Eurovision ’74, signed by all four members; over 40 Gold Discs from ABBA’s personal archive, including “Dancing Queen”, their biggest selling single, worldwide; a collection of exquisitely designed, image-defining costumes and personal clothing; and a recreation of superfan Andrew Boardman’s Manchester living room, a veritable shrine to ABBA memorabilia.
Visitors will also be fully immersed in the ABBA story through the ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition’s theatrical staging, including a recreation of the Eurovision Song Contest stage at the Brighton Dome, where, from lush deep theatre seats, fans will watch the performance before experiencing the excitement of the vote reveal. Multiple photo-opportunities will also be available, where attendees can capture themselves beside a full-sized replica of the helicopter that graced the cover of “Arrival’, replicas of the iconic “Super Trouper” album cover costumes, a life-size replica of the scoreboard that saw ABBA secure Eurovision Song Contest victory (despite null points from the United Kingdom), and a glimpse inside the band’s POLAR Studios, where the hard-working pop perfectionists refined their defining harmonised sound, with interactive elements that include a voice recording booth and mixing desk.
The experience ends on a high with guests invited to sing, dance, add to fan mail, explore memorabilia and indeed say “Thank You For The Music” in The Legacy finale, as a spectacular audio-visual backdrop documents the very best of the band’s monumental successes and universal popularity, cementing their position as one of the most enduring acts of all time.
BBC presenter Gemma Cairney will also be providing the narration for a specially created audio guide (included in the price of admission) that will give context to the developments of the decade, highlighting the global news events and musical soundtrack that defined the era. Says Cairney: “I am delighted to have been asked to narrate ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition. The project sounded far too fun and uplifting not to get involved. For me, ABBA are the absolute epitome of pop music and complete masters of their craft, having written some of the most universally joyful songs of all time. I think there’s a time in everyone’s life where they start thanking ABBA for the music. Whether you are a long-standing fan or have come to the band more recently, ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition will immerse you in the wonder of the ABBA’s legacy. Join us in celebrating the phenomenon!”
ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition will run from 6th December 2019 to 31st August 2020 at The O2, London. For tickets and more information, visit their website here