ABBA is one of the most successful music groups in the history of the world. Active from 1970 to 1983, the band sold millions of albums and toured the world—and thanks in part to the hit musical Mamma Mia!, ABBA remains wildly popular.
Now ABBA is being honored by the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus, which will be performing ExtrABBAganza at the Jewish Community Center of Palm Springs on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26.
David Sanchez, the president of the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus, explained the inspiration for doing ABBA.
"Every year, we try to do something different that will be appealing to our supporters who come to our concerts,” he said. “We've been doing shows that were about our gay history, our gay culture, and some of the struggles we've been through in the past within the gay community. This year, we decided we were going to focus on something not more thought-provoking, but some fun things to do for the chorus—so that's how ABBA came about."
ABBA, of course, inspired the Broadway musical Mamma Mia and its 2008 movie adaptation. There was also a show designed for choruses.
"There was a production made just for gay choruses based on the music of ABBA called ExtrABBAganza,” Sanchez said. “It's 17 ABBA songs put together for a concert series."
What can you expect from the chorus besides performing hits such as "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," and "Mamma Mia?"
"It's going to be a lot of fun,” Sanchez said. “We're asking our supporters coming to the concert to dress up in an ABBA outfit if they'd like to participate in a drawing for season tickets. The chorus is going to be dressing in ABBA outfits for the second part of the show—and we have real-life dancing queens, who will be performing for ‘Dancing Queen.’
There are a lot of lights and sounds taking place that we wouldn't normally do for our April-spring concert, but it will be a lot of fun for everybody who attends."
Sanchez said ExtrABBAganza presented the chorus with some difficulties.
"The rehearsals were very challenging for the chorus. You would think the music of ABBA would be easy to sing, but for a choral production, some of the music for the first tenors is very challenging because of the range. Plus, we have members of the chorus who did not grow up with the music of ABBA, but you mention the song 'Mamma Mia,' and suddenly, they are all like, 'Oh yeah, I'm familiar with it.'"
Ticket sales have gone very well, and there's the possibility of both shows selling out, Sanchez said.
He also offered a preview of plans for the new season.
"Our artistic director is Doug Wilson, and he has a vision about what he'd like to do for next year,” Sanchez said. “We're going to be preparing for our holiday concert during the summer, and we're doing a production of Rutter's Gloria. It's a very nice production of holiday music, and it's challenging music for a chorus to sing. It has a lot of traditional favorites for the holiday.
“For spring 2016, Doug wants to do something with rhythm and movement, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he has planned for us."
The Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus will be performing at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 25; and 3 p.m., Sunday, April 26 at the Jewish Community Center, 332 W. Alejo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $25 to $50. For tickets or more information, visit www.psgmc.com