When Giselle Bouwer first landed a lead role in an ABBA tribute show in 2012, she had no idea how much she liked the Swedish vocal pop group’s music.
Eight years and several international tours with the show later, Bouwer still loves it.
“The music is incredible … there’s some kind of magic ingredient, but I’m not sure what it is,” she said.
Bouwer is a lead singer in the Dancing Queen: The ABBA Show, coming to the Oamaru Opera House on Monday night.
Born and raised in South Africa, she grew up with music.
“My mother is a classical musician, so that was a direction of my life for a very long time, until our church decided to start a youth band when I was about 13,” she said.
“I was asked to sing and perform … so I got involved with a bit less classical music from then on.”
She linked up with Showtime Australia in 2011, landed the ABBA role the following year – and has been “having a blast” ever since.
Bouwer took a break from performing to start a family four years ago, but has taken her son, Jude, on tour from a young age as she continued to help out behind the scenes.
“He’s pretty good at being raised in theatres,” she said.
“We’re a very big happy family, the cast and crew. We all work so well together, so everyone looks after him – he’s got about 70 mums and dads.”
The New Zealand tour is her first time back on stage since she had her son returned to her role of Anni-Frid with renewed vigour.
“It’s been good, it’s been really fun – I love the show, it’s got so much energy,” she said.
The two-hour concert features live performances of more than twenty ABBA hits, and dress-ups and dancing are encouraged.
The cast and crew have all had to rise to the challenges presented by Covid-19 to keep the show on the road, and Bouwer was grateful to have the opportunity to tour and perform in New Zealand when so many of her friends around the world were not in the same position.
New Zealand’s strict border closure had prevented some of the production’s international support cast from being part of the tour, but director Johnny Van Grinsven went on a nation-wide search for local musicians to fill the gaps.
He had world-class talent to choose from after a flood of New Zealand performers had returned home from cancelled international contracts due to Covid-19.
“We had people coming directly from Broadway and the West End to audition for us. There are a lot of artists without work, and for who knows how long . . . we wish we could take everyone,” Van Grinsven said.
The tour started on November 13 in Tauranga.
The Oamaru performance starts at 8pm on Monday. Tickets are priced between $30 and $69.
- The Oamaru Mail has six tickets to give away. To go in the draw, email your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Sunday, December 6, or visit the Oamaru Mail Facebook page.