NOT only were ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus behind some of the greatest hits of the 20th century but they are responsible for the friendship of two of Australia’s brightest music theatre talents.
The Swedish stars paired Rhonda Burchmore and Lara Mulcahy together in the Mamma Mia! audition room in 2000 and the chemistry proved so right, not only did Burchmore and Mulcahy get the roles of Tanya and Rosie, but they have remained best friends.
“We’ve gone our different ways professionally in terms of shows; Lara did Les Miserables and I did everything from The Drowsy Chaperone and Into the Woods to travelling with cabaret in London and Australia,” Burchmore said.
“Last November we got together over a couple of drinks and we looked at the current landscape of music theatre shows and there was nothing there for us in Aladdin, Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon or My Fair Lady, so we decided to write ABBA-solutely Fabulous!
“We co-wrote it and I produced it and financed it myself entirely and it’s been a bit of a smash hit. It’s just a great celebration of life and girl power and women of a certain age getting out and doing what they love – along with 22 ABBA songs.
“The show is a massive dose of comedy and it’s not a tribute show at all. We’re not trying to be Agnetha and Frida, we’re Lara and Rhonda.”
Like all best friends, the duo have each other’s back during the good and bad times, including when Burchmore’s mother died earlier this year.
“ABBA-solutely Fabulous! has been a beautiful distraction from personal sadness,” Burchmore said.
“When we wrote the show, my mum was very much alive, and there’s a part where we talk about the influences our mums had on us growing up. Lara grew up in Perth and I grew up in Sydney and my mum was instrumental in creating these magnificent clothes and taking me to singing, acting and dancing lessons.
“And Lara at the same time, her mother used to run a dancing school here in Perth. We were both singing and dancing kids and with that we discovered we were both obsessed ABBA fans.”
Despite their mutual love of the stage, Burchmore said they were also complete opposites in many ways which was another reason for calling the show ABBA-solutely Fabulous!
“There is a dose of Patsy and Eddie about us,” Burchmore said.
“I’m your more designer and Lara’s your more K-mart and she’s the first one to say that.”
What: ABBA-solutely Fabulous!
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: November 25