Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - Lifestyle - Tanya MacNaughton

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, I pro­duced it and fi­nanced it my­self en­tirely and it’s been a bit of a smash hit. It’s a great cel­e­bra­tion of life, 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, 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 backs in good and bad times, in­clud­ing when Burch­more’s mother died 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 singing and danc­ing kids and 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, 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 Kmart and she’s the first one to say that.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

WHAT: ABBA-so­lutely Fab­u­lous! WHERE: Crown Theatre Perth WHEN: Novem­ber 25 TICK­ETS: www.tick­et­mas­ter.com.au Rhonda Burch­more is in Perth ahead of her live con­cert ABBA-so­lutely Fab­u­lous!. THE ES­SEN­TIALS

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