Sweden

Sweden second rehearsal

Desiree on Thu, 05/04/2017 - 08:16

So we are all set up in the hall now and we can finally see the rehearsals live.

The stage for Sweden looks empty at the start, But we can see Robin from the side and actually come on stage with his dancers. Even right from the back it looks really nice. Sounds great. The visuals of a road and then later city are also nice. It sounds very well from here, if there would be any glitches in the vocals we surely don't notice it in the hall. Now we hear there are in-ear problems for Sweden, once they're solved, we'll get the last runthrough.

Some words about the hall itself in the meantime: the hall looks really quite small, anyone who would have tickets in the back and/or up high should not worry about their view (excluded maybe those with really cheap tickets as they might be restricted view). There are no screens next to the stage as usually, as the led-screen stretches all over the width of the stage, but there are 4 screens - 2 on each side - above the audience stalls.

In the meantime Sweden has finished, good rehearsal, will probably do well.

Day one catch up review...it's not live....but then again some days I wonder if I am (a)live anyway....

Day one

Well the most important tasks for me, always, on day one is to actually get into the press centre in good time, and hunt the interview lists. So The Boss and I duly arrived at around 7.45 in the morning to make sure we were in a reasonable place in the queue to get in - first!

The only real issue we had with this was that actually entering the building ended up being so confusing, with two queues (one for S accreditations and on for P) but in the end it all worked out as we were the first to get in. Which leads onto task two. Hunt the interview lists. This is a huge thing for me each and every year, there are never lists prepared in advance, the poor volunteers never know what I am talking about and it often takes about 20-30 minutes to even get them to prepare some sort of list for the press wanting to book interviews. When you bear in mind that the first rehearsal is on stage at 10, the press centre opens at 9 and there are other things to get on with, this can cause a little raising of the heart rate!
Not this year though - amazingly, wonderfully and to my deepest delight - the lists were already prepared in advance….who knew that Ukraine could be so organised???? So well done on that!

So all in all the day started off really well in the end….computers all worked, wifi and LAN were fantastic speeds (Thanks Swedish Tecchie guys) and not too many hordes of massed fans running around like school girls on a day out from St Trinians. All going so well so far yes??? Err well no, cos that’s when rehearsals started on the big screens….

Now we know that every year there are sound issues, always with the first run through. So if we know there are always problems, then surely the organisers should know the same? And maybe, you know, test things first? Nah, that would be too simply. So we were left with watching the big screen and attempting to listen to the sound coming from the arena next door. Which was fun. Anyway maybe I am being too harsh and expecting too much? Still it was all solved pretty quickly and left with the delight of the Swedish rehearsal.

Blogging is not really part of the things I get to grips with at the Eurovision each year, most of my work revolves around processing background stuff, like video, checking the work of the rest of the team, meeting with delegations to check for interviews, actually doing the interviews and generally just annoying people so I never really get a lot of time to watch the screens….but I do hear snippets of enough of the day to form a judgement on whats Fabulous, Great, Ok, and OMFG what the hell was that??? So here was my day in running order

Sweden Ok
Georgia Great
Albania Ok
Australia Ok
Belgium OMFG what the hell was that?
Montenegro Fabulous
Finland Fabulous
Azerbaijan Great
Portugal - - - Can’t really judge as he wasn’t singing but still find the song really dull…

Team Kaz has 2 full time and some part time English bloggers so if you want detail on who wore what, who did what to whom, and that Azerbaijan step Ladder please check them out….

The other huge part of my day was dealing with interviews, and we managed to get 4 out of 8 done yesterday with three being mine, Sweden, Albania and Montenegro. No real surprises with any of these as I’ve met them all before, apart from Slavko, he does get really in depth when you get him away from his on stage persona and get him talking on a level about some deeper though provoking stuff. He’s actually super intelligent and opinionated and kinda the guy I have a secret admiration for in the way he behaves and carry himself. Lindita is also the same, again get them talking about stuff away from Eurovision and underneath the surface gloss are some really deep individuals

I missed the interview with Finland, but I know that these two guys are the same as Slavvie and Linnie above, in that respect. Georgia’s Tamara seems a little off the wall, but in a totally great “don’t mess with me or I will destroy you” kinda way….still you can judge for yourselves on the clips. Robin was the one I still am trying to find a connection with every time I meet him though. I am still not sure if he is being reserved due to shyness or a lack of sleep or a lack of something else entirely but I will keep trying to find out what his buttons are and such them hard

All in all it was actually a great day, as “Eurovision Day One”s go, it all worked, we left the press centre on time, and still got to the restaurant in time to have food drink gossip with friends and actually look forward to Day Two without coming out in a cold sweat

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Today's highlights and tomorrow's expectations - an overview

Desiree on Sun, 04/30/2017 - 21:13

Some last thoughts on today's first rehearsals. Overall there haven't been that many surprises I think. Everything started and ended perfectly on time.

Obviously a lot was expected from Belgium but I also think that the earlier performances already did a bit to lower those expectations. Georgia and Albania once again delivered great vocals (even though the latter's experiments weren't such a great idea in my opinion). Vocally Australia was also really good but his face all over the screens is a bit much for me.

That leaves Finland and Sweden who hardly changed anything to their performance and did a really good job, especially considering it's just a first rehearsal. Montenegro was the most extravagant act of the day and I would've been surprised with anything else. It also really stand out with its draw. Last but not least Portugal, I find it hard to say something about it as another singer can leave a completely different impression. I think it will be mesmerising on the night, especially if flags don't ruin the view as they kinda did with the Dutch performance of 2013 (Anouk - Birds).

So on to tomorrow where we will see the last songs from the first semi. I think there's a lot to look forward to. A few of them have been around quite a lot with promo-tour performances but for others like Greece and Armenia it will be really interesting to see the staging as they either were hardly performed live or didn't really show a lot in the previous performances. I'm also quite looking forward to Iceland. Before the national final it was quite the favourite already, then many people were disappointed but with a different staging that might all change again. And then there's Moldova, obviously not the masterpiece of the year but one of the songs that always gets me in a good mood, so I can't wait!

All in all another exciting waiting for us, see you tomorrow!

Sweden First Rehearsal

ChrisB on Sun, 04/30/2017 - 09:01

Robin Bengtsson is the first one up to rehearse for Sweden.

I can't go on won Melodifestivalen with a slick choreography on treadmills. Sweden, as they usually do, did not change a lot with the presentation other than a few technical details. When Robin enters the stage there are no stairs, a new backdrop, flashing images of neon pink, the backdrop reminds me at times of the movie TRON. It's a slick package with some retro

We did not have sound for the first two run-throughs, the third run-through revealed that Sweden will have to work out the soundmixing a bit to recreate how it sounded in Melfest.

Sweden first rehearsal (update)

Desiree on Sun, 04/30/2017 - 08:20

So we have now officially started!

As already mentioned the first runthrough was without sound from the press centre. However, as we are next to the hall we can hear *a bit* - and notice that the stream is not in sync with the sound from the hall. I hope this will be fixed or it could cause some confusion!

The second time it is unfortunately still the same. What I like is that it's not all dark. The background is a mix of blue and pink/purple and looks like a nice opener. Haven't heard anything worth mentioning yet but looks like a solid opener and Robin clearly knows what he's doing.

Third time - we have sound! It sounds really good I must say and will probably do very well. It's just not really my cup of tea. Also, now it's exactly 10.30 am here so in a few minutes we move on to country nr. 2!

Mamma Mia The Party

Andy on Sat, 05/14/2016 - 02:31
A tasty Mediterranean buffet is placed on your table. Glasses are being raised across the room. Everything happens on a magical evening in several acts filled with singing and dancing, daredevil stunts, Greek Gods, flirty waiters, and perhaps a Zorba and an Ouzo or two. The rest is up to you. Because no evening is like any other. And no one knows how it ends. It all depends on where ABBA's songs take us! But one thing's for sure: you can count on a Summer night city. The temperature at Nikos Taverna is always set on Greek high summer, regardless of season. Ready to make history? Opa!!

Björn Ulvaeus invites everyone to "Mamma Mia! the Party" in Stockholm. Mamma Mia! musical is being turned into party held in the Tyrol restaurant at Gröna Lund, a few steps from ABBA The Museum. Building on ABBA tunes, one of Swedish greatest musical export successes ever, Björn Ulvaeus captured the warm, happy atmosphere of the musical and movie Mamma Mia! that have conquered millions of people around the world and turned it into a party. Planning for the production has been ongoing for 2 years with first sketchy details revealed in April 2015.

ESCKAZ had the opportunity to talk to Björn Ulvaeus who is the executive producer and one of the initiators of Mamma Mia! the Party, which premiered in Tyrol on 20 January 2016. At the age of 70 Björn who calls himself "pop culture entrepreneur, investor and lyricist", is full of energy, has no plans to retire but not to get back to the active composing or stage activity either. His vision of the new show is that guests, restaurant staff, musicians and artists together create the party in the Greek tavern environment from the island of Skopelos, where the Mamma Mia! the movie filmed, with olive trees, fountain and scents of the Mediterranean. With the help of the ABBA songs they write that particular evening's history there and then. With Mamma Mia! the Party are linked the two big attractions: ABBA the Museum and Gröna Lund amusement park, creating a new public magnet at Djurgården. For this purpose, legendary Tyrol restaurant has been transformed in 2015 by set designer Bengt Fröderberg into a Greek tavern.

"I sat in the audience at theaters around the world and experienced the special warm, happy atmosphere that occurs when the first notes of the musical sounds out over the auditorium. And when people stand up and dance and sing at the end of it. That is the feeling I want to recreate at the Mamma Mia! the Party", says Björn Ulvaeus

Watch Björn Ulvaeus speaking about Mamma Mia! the Party and Eurovision:

Mamma Mia! the musical has so far been seen by 55 million people around the world. The musical premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre in London on 6 April 1999. A total of 49 stagings in 16 languages were produced ​​and it is still being played in 8 productions in three different languages. The film based on the musical premiered in 2008 with actors like Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried and Stellan Skarsgård. Last year Eurovision accredited press and delegates were invited to attend for free one of the best world stagings in the show Mamma Mia! in Raimund Theater with Ana Milva Gomes and Madeleine Lauw.

Today, ESCKAZ team has been invited to attend the English version of Mamma Mia! the Party. The story is not same as in Mamma Mia! the Musical, it takes place after Mamma Mia! the Movie was filmed on Skopelos Island and evolves around Greek tavern owner Nikos and his new Swedish wife Kicki (who was working on The Movie production and decided to stay in Greece) who came up with the idea to organize every evening a Mamma Mia Party in their tavern while serving great food for the tourists, executive chef of the tavern Maggan, Nikos' daughter Konstantina, Kicki's son Adam and the Romeo & Juliet story between the latter two, complete with the balcony scene. There is also plenty of room for improvisation and audience participation, if the guests are up for it (and if you celebrate your birthday musicians will also play and sing a special version of Happy Birthday for you).

Mamma Mia! The Party interview with Abba's Bjorn

Upon entering ‘Nikos Tavern’, the guests are greeted by Greek Gods bearing trays of Ouzo shots, before being shown to their tables and handled a local gossip newspaper "Skopelos News" with details about the cast, crew and menu. Inside Tyrol, the temperature is always set to a Greek summer evening, so dress accordingly (cloakroom in the restaurant is free of charge). An astonishingly detailed set includes the frontage of a Greek souvenir shop and a backdrop of screens showing a real Grecian sunset, which changes throughout the evening while surround effects such as the sea, crickets etc bring alive the Grecian backdrop of the popular Abba movie, Mamma Mia! Vines trail the crumbling walls, fountains dance and the air is heavy with the scent of olive trees and jasmine. As the evening progresses, the light gradually fades out as the sun goes down and candles begin to flicker. While the guests enjoy their food, the show takes place around them. There is no stage, instead the cast delivers their dialogue, sings and dances between the tables on the restaurant floor creating complete 360° experience.

The music is still made of ABBA songs, but again the tracklist is different to the Musical, while some lyrics have been reworked by Björn Ulvaeus himself.
Act 1:
Kicky & Nikos: Thank You For The Music; Maggan: Bang-A-Boomerang; Adam: Take a Chance on Me; Konstantina & Adam: I've Been Waiting for You; Kicky: When I Kissed the Teacher; Kicky: Head Over Heels; Kicky & Konstantina: If it Wasn't for the Night; Maggan: Hole in Your Soul; Adam: On and On and On; Konstantina: So Long; Adam & Konstantina: Honey Honey; Maggan: Andante, Andante
Act 2:
All: Waterloo; Kicky: S.O.S.; Maggan: Mamma Mia; Konstantina: I Let the Music Speak; Adam: I'm a Marionette; Konstantina: The Winner Takes It All; Adam & Konstantina & Kicky & All: Kisses Of Fire
Act 3:
Konstantina: I Have A Dream, Anders and band: Does Your Mother Know,
Medley: Kicky & Lotta & Bella & Adam: Summernight City; Konstantina: Voulez vous; Kicky & Maggan: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!; Lotta: Super Trouper; Maggan: Mamma Mia; Kicky: Lay All Your Love On Me; Konstantina: Tiger; Roberto & Adam: So Long;
Encore: Dancing Queen

Get some taste of the music and practice your lyrics knowledge with ABBA originals:

The striking-looking performances are made on the lesser-known songs, "I'll let the music speak" and "I'm a marionette," which offer spectacular circus acrobat numbers with Talang show finalist Elin König Andersson, leading to the grand finale of the story itself with "Kisses of Fire". At this point, the only regret is that the story so quickly has come to the end - but the organizers predicted such reaction and is prepared a third act for all the visitors, which although isn't developing the storyline, but none-the-less is full of ABBA songs.

The evening ends with Greek Zorba dancing (for which "I Had A Dream" seems the perfect fit), the tables then are moved to transform the venue into the nightclub with the dance floor and then, there is another performance that includes a medley of songs of Abba. Those guests who had not enough of 4 hours of party during the show itself can continue discoing with the DJs even after the artists have left on the recorded soundtrack of the show, other music of ABBA and dance hits.

The stars of "Mamma Mia! the Party" are actors Michalis Koutsogiannakis as Nikos, Anki Albertsson as Kicky, Sussie Eriksson as Maggan, Mercedesz Csampai as Konstantina, Patrik Hont as Adam, Linda Olsson / Sofie Gunnarsson as Lotta, gymnast Elin König Andersson as Bella, four Greek ladies altering role of Grandmother: Sigrid Anastasoglou, Hrissoula Damianidou, Nikoletta Kereklidou and Maria Saivanidou and musicians Robin Svensson (Rasmus, piano & guitar), Mija Folkesson (Gittan, guitar & bouzouki), Daniel Bingert (Lasse, bass & mandoline), Pablo Cepeda (Roberto, drums & percussion) and Michael Blomqvist (Anders, guitar & bouzouki).

Mamma Mia! the Party cast

Sussie Eriksson starred as Karin in Swedish production in Mamma Mia!, Michael Blomqvist, being many times leader of huskören of Melodifestivalen, was choir member for Mamma Mia! The Movie and also performed in Swedish stage production as well as Anki Albertsson, who was Donna in Gothenburg staging and backing singer at soundtrack recording. Pablo Cepeda twice competed in Melodifestivalen. Michalis Koutsogiannakis is known for his participation in film adaptation of Millennium saga.
Mamma Mia! the Party produced by Eventum in cooperation with Björn Ulvaeus, scripted by Calle Norlén, Björn Ulvaeus and Roine Söderlundh, with latter being also director of the show.

The whole lineup of actors and musicians is absolutely exceptional, competent and professional and are perfectly casted into the roles. Highlight of the show, however, is no doubt performance of stunning Swedish/Hungarian/Russian singer Mercedesz Csampai (watch out for her emotional rendition of The Winner Takes It All and her literally hanging-in-the-air performance of Voulez-vous in the final medley) who previously starred in various international music productions including "Tanz der Vampire" in Berlin and "The Phantom of the Opera" in Moscow.

Mamma Mia The Party press photos

Tickets for the shows can be booked at ticnet.se. At the current moment on sale are shows till April 2017. You should absolutely buy tickets in advance, because the shows are usually sold out. Tickets cost 1340.00 SEK (around 145 Euro) per person may seem quite high at the first sight, but remember it includes dinner, and thus is in average the same as the cost of the quality concert attendance followed by a good dinner. You can also purchase combined package including admission to ABBA The Museum for 1535 SEK. Time of arrival varies on day of the week and is found on your ticket, doors remain open for appr. 45 minutes from listed time.

If you plan to visit Stockholm this summer, the Party will be in English between July 27 to August 21, the other days Swedish version of the show is played (with songs still in English).

The party will last for at least four hours (of them the show itself around hour and a half). Capacity of the restaurant is 450 visitors. Minimal age: 13 years, aged 13-18 are welcome accompanied by adults. Tables are reserved in the order they are booked, so there is no option to choose them. If you come in a large group you may occupy a full table for 8 or 10 people, otherwise you may be required to share a table with other ABBA fans. The plan of the hall is made to ensure best possible experience for all tables, but largest portion of action takes place around the fountain, left balcony is also used a bit more often than right one. Groups bigger than 15 persons can be booked via e-mail: ticket@mammamiatheparty.com, also can you request there (not less than a week before the show) to be seated together with your friends who booked tickets separately.

A three-course mediterranean buffet is included in the ticket price, and is served at your table. The buffet is produced by Samuel Cabrera and his culinary colleagues, in consultation with Jonas Dahlbom, the new creative culinary manager at Gröna Lund. Dishes are served prior to the beginning and in the breaks between the acts.

Mezes: Tzatziki, Semi-dried tomatoes, olives and anchovies, Hummus, Greek farmhouse bread
Starters: Greek salad, Garlic-fried octopus with lemon and rosemary, Fish stew made with hake, tomatoes, and lemon served with sage butter
Main dishes: Lamb racks with pistachio crust, beef and chevre cream, Loin of pork skewers with roast potatoes, Lamb sausage
Dessert: Coffee, ouzo-flavoured semolina cream, pistachio crust, yoghurt pannacotta with honey and almond biscuits.
Options are available for those with gluten or lactose intolerance, or with seafood allergies. Vegetarian or vegan menu can also be prepared if notified by mail in advance. Drinks, except from welcome one, are extra and paid at Tyrol, and, of course, there are alcohol-free alternatives.

Find complete menu here.

Producers of the show do not rule out international expansion of the project in the same way it has happened with Mamma Mia! the Musical (London production is at the talks already), but at this moment it is exclusively available in capital of Sweden Stockholm. The easiest way to Tyrol restaurant is by Djurgårds ferry from Slussen (last ferry back is at 23:50 everyday and at 00:30 on Saturday), or bus 67 to Liljevalchs/Gröna Lund (last bus back at 00:20), or tram 7 from Kungsträdgården to Djurgården (last one at 01:45). More on transport options: here, route planner here. Tyrol has its own entrance at Allmänna Gränd and is located on the other side of the street from the ABBA The Museum and Pop House.

By the way, Swedish entrant Frans was guest of Mamma Mia The Party last week:

Amir, Samra, Juri, Zoe and Italian delegation have also visited the event during these weeks.

The world premiere of Mamma Mia! the Party earlier this year was a historic occasion as all four ABBA members, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, attended and posed together for the first time since Mamma Mia! the movie presentation and just second time after the supergroup split. "I don't think that (on-stage) reunion will happen, but who knows (what future brings)", surprisingly no so firmly as usual says Björn in ESCKAZ interview.

ABBA_David Sica, Zap PR for MMTP5

For us the show definitely has been the ultimate highlight of the two weeks in Stockholm with amazing music performances and finally a chance to have a proper dinner. Finally, we would like to thank Stephanie Bonn from Zap PR for her assistance in coverage of the event.

NK Eurovision winners charity event

Maxim_T on Wed, 05/04/2016 - 19:11

Today Nordiska Kompaniet trade center in Stockholm has made an exhibition in a windows of its store. It was dedicated to Swedish Eurovision winners and some of them have actually attended the event. NK has offered some charity items (basically photo prints and also giant silver boots) connected to ESC winners selling. All receved money will be sent to different funds like Unicef and Children Cancer fund.

NK Eurovision winners charity event