4th -5th MAY 2018

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RHONDA Burchmore and Lara Mulcahy met in 2001 when they performed alongside each other in the original Australian production of Mamma Mia!, the musical famously crafted around a hit parade of ABBA songs.

Cast as the best friends of the central character Donna (played by Anne Wood, and by Meryl Streep in the film), they became besties themselves.

“The chemistry was very special between Anne Wood, Lara and myself. Anne still remains a dear friend of both of us but we became like partners-in-crime,” says Burchmore.

“One of the biggest comments we got was, ‘my god, you should have a TV sitcom together, your chemistry is amazing’. So, we finally have an opportunity to share that,” says Mulcahy.

Dressed in their first-act costumes — Lycra jumpsuits with Burchmore in crystal-studded stiletto boots and Mulcahy in chunky platforms — the banter flows freely as they describe the show, in which they sing their way through ABBA’s smash hits.

“It’s ABBA meets Lara and Rhonda meets Ab Fab,” says Burchmore, whose many other stage credits include the musicals Hot Shoe Shuffle with David Atkins and The Drowsy Chaperone with Geoffrey Rush.

“We got up to so many antics backstage during Mamma Mia! so the show will be an excuse to bring that on stage,” adds Mulcahy who reprised her role in Mamma Mia! in the West End and played Madame Thenardier in the recent Australian production of Les Miserables.

“Basically, we are not playing ABBA. We are being Rhonda and Lara telling stories about our childhood and growing up, and how we were both huge ABBA fans. And we intersperse ABBA songs through our life journey. So, it’s different to an ABBA tribute band because it’s us being us,” says Mulcahy.

With this year marking the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s extraordinary 1977 Australian tour, it seemed the perfect timing. They wrote the show together in Burchmore’s lounge room in two days.

“It just poured out of us,” says Mulcahy.

Putting it together, they realised how many similarities there are between them — they both began dancing at age two for instance. But they will also have fun and games with their differences.

“We have Miss Queen of Fashion here and I’m the Queen of Target,” quips Mulcahy. “She’s the queen of lovely salads and I’m the queen of chocolate.”

They will perform with a band of young musicians. “But we are also going to reproduce all the keyboards and synths that ABBA created back in the 80s,” says Burchmore.

“It’s also choreographed,” says Mulcahy. “It’s camp and entertaining. We just want people to have a laugh, and have a smile on their face at the end of the night.”

JO LITSON, Arts Writer, The Sunday Telegraph -  March 25, 2017 5:09pm

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