Q & A with Mark Thomas, of Abba Mania
Tribute band Abba Mania, who plays songs by the original Swedish pop band Abba, will perform Tuesday at the Community Arts Center.
Abba Mania has been captivating audiences since 1999, playing well-known and beloved classics by the original band.
Recently the Sun-Gazette spoke with Abba Mania drummer Mark Thomas – professional musician who began playing drums when the original Abba first started performing – about Abba Mania’s history, and what an Abba Mania experience is truly like.
SIMONE BROWN: Who all makes up the cast of Abba Mania and what is everyone’s part?
MARK THOMAS: Abba Mania consists of seven performers, four performers playing the original members of ABBA (two girls, two guys), and three other band members.
SB: How long has Abba Mania been around?
MT: The show was created between 1998 and 2000, playing its first show in the Swansea Grand Theatre in April 2000, so (the cast has) been performing for 13 years.
SB: What inspired you all to start a tribute cast for Abba?
MT: I have always admired Abba’s music and their attention to detail, so for me it was natural to want to put this into a live performance that could be toured throughout the world.
SB: Did anyone in the band grow up listening to Abba?
MT: Some of the cast members unfortunately are too young to have heard this music the first time around. I, however, still have very clear and happy memories of each and every song that they released.
SB: Were any of the members involved in any other musical acts prior to Abba Mania?
MT: All members of the cast are highly experienced performers and as such have performed in many other productions.
SB: It has been quite a while since the original Abba last toured, yet do people of all ages still attend your shows?
MT: One of the great advantages of playing Abba’s music is that it is loved by people of all ages, and as such we sometimes see three generations of the same family enjoying our concerts.
SB: As a tribute cast, do you hope to connect with anyone who previously saw the original Abba when they were touring?
MT: Very often we will have members of the audience speak to us at the end of a performance and tell us that they had, in fact, been lucky enough to attend an original Abba concert.
SB: What is the concert experience like for an Abba Mania show?
MT: I guess you’ll need to attend one of our performances to get a true answer to this question; however, our intention is always to give people a great, fun night out, but again we try to capture the real spirit and feel of an original Abba concert.
SB: What sets Abba Mania apart from other tribute bands?
MT: This has to be our constant quest for authenticity in every detail, be it how the songs are performed and sung, the choreography, attention to detail with our costumes, lighting and staging. We have really worked hard to give the audience a true Abba experience.
SB: Does anyone in the band have any favorite Abba songs that they perform?
MT: Everyone has their favorite, I’m sure. However, mine is ” Winner Takes It All” – this has to be one of the most beautifully sculpted and emotive pop songs of all time.
SB: To be in a band like this and pay tribute to Abba, does anyone in the cast have an acting background?
MT: The emphasis has always been focused on musicality. Our performers are hand picked for their ability to be able to capture and convey the sentiment of these songs. I didn’t feel that acting was necessarily that important; that said, our cast are all great performers.
SB: What does everyone do for a job outside of Abba Mania?
MT: All members of Abba Mania are professional, full-time musicians.
SB: How often does the cast tour?
MT: The show seems to tour endlessly with more than 2,000 performances under its belt.
SB: As a whole, do you all wish to continue performing as a tribute for a long time? Do any of you think you may want to start your own band one day?
MT: As far as I can tell all members of Abba Mania are more than happy to be touring and performing what is essentially the world’s finest pop music.
Whilst the dream of having your own band can seem like a good idea I don’t think we could have any more fun and get to see as much of the world as we do by doing anything else.