ABBA Mania: An interview with producer Todd Littlewood
To celebrate the end of lockdown, audiences will once again be invited to say “Thank you for the music” at the world’s number one ABBA tribute concert. ABBA Mania is a two-hour celebration of the timeless songs, fashion and joy that the band brought to the world, and for the first time in two decades they will be hitting the West End from 21st of May. We caught up with Todd Littlewood, the producer of the show, to find out more.
Why was now the right time to relaunch ABBA Mania?
Well, it’s been such a crazy year for us all! We were literally stopped in our tracks, like so many people – we had 100+ shows scheduled for 2020/21 and could only perform two outdoor shows! It was as if the tap was just turned off overnight!
So going back into the West End now feels like a reboot; it’s gone full circle and feels like a rebirth of the show, and to do it all in the West End again is magnificent. If the world ever needed a feel-good, uplifting show now is the time. The audience know what they are getting and it will be a party atmosphere to blow away the lockdown cobwebs.
Can you tell us more about the costumes?
We are having a brand-new sparkly set of costumes made for the West End run. These are based on the iconic designs that you associate with ABBA over the years, including the infamous Waterloo costumes from Eurovision. Plus the gorgeous white and gold costumes from Abba’s white concert!
What kind of staging should we expect?
A definite nod to the original concert stage set, but with a modern twist..
Will this performance of ABBA Mania be affected by the Covid restrictions?
We usually enjoy sell-out crowds! Although this is 50% capacity, we feel that the excitement from the audience to enjoy live music and the excitement from the performers will make these performances extra special for both the audience and the cast.
What was it like to plan this show during Covid-19?
Really strange, to be honest, as everything has been so unsettled. We wanted to be one of the first shows back on stage and have confidence in the Government roadmap. Hopefully things will remain on track and we can continue with our plans as we are hugely excited to get back on stage.
Why do you think ABBA has continued to be so popular over the years?
I’m not sure that there is a short answer to this. It appeals to the older generations who loved ABBA, there is the next generation who heard all of the music growing up that connects with them as they get older, and now all of the younger generation who love the music from the movies – not to mention the genius of the music as well.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this show?
Fun, connection, nostalgia, and hopefully they can forget about their problems for a couple of hours and have a really good time with their friends and family.
What is your favourite ABBA song, and why?
Tough question! I love Gimme, Gimme, Gimme; The Winner Takes It All always brings the house down. I also like Name of the Game, but Super Trouper is definitely a magical moment in the show.
How do you feel about the theatres re-opening?
I personally think that it’s great. We were the first to close and the last to re-open – it’s been a tough, long 15 months for the whole industry. As long as everybody can remain safe it will be fantastic for theatres and the whole ecosystem attached to them, including restaurants, bars, taxis, designers, PR and advertising agencies, technicians, cast, theatre staff and many, many more.
What’s next for you?
We have 15 to 20 outdoor concerts booked for the summer and many regional theatre dates that have been rescheduled for later in 2021/22. We also have tours of the USA planned for October and November 2021, and February and March 2022, along with an arena tour of France confirmed for March 2022… Dates in Greece, Germany, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Italy and Spain to rearrange, once we can and we have a confirmed debut tour of Russia booked for early 2022!
ABBA Mania is on at the Shaftesbury Theatre from 21st May until 6th June 2021. For further information or to book visit here.