- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

Note to Washington: Forget Afghanistan and the Middle East ABBA is here. At least that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment Tuesday night when disco royal Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame hit town for the premiere of "Mamma Mia" at the National Theatre.
"This is really what Washington wants and needs," Mr. Ulvaeus said of the oh-so-serious-and-staid capital of the free world after one of his biggest fans, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, took time out from crisis diplomacy to see the show again with his wife and son in tow.
"I don't think I am going to perform tonight as I did then," Mr. Powell said, taking Mr. Ulvaeus' hand and bowing before mentioning his dancing in the aisles during the New York show.
Based on ABBA's classic songs from the 1970s and written by Mr. Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the two male members of the ABBA quartet, "Mamma Mia" is packing them in on Broadway as well as in London, Toronto and Melbourne, Australia. The musical an intergenerational love story with a twist is followed by a miniconcert with the cast singing along to original ABBA recordings.
Members of Congress left their Hill offices as well for the much-anticipated opening. Sen. Christopher Dodd and Reps. Edward Markey and Rosa DeLauro joined officials from administrations past (Susan Blumenthal, Ken Duberstein, Richard Armitage) for the show and a lively cast party afterward at the Old Ebbitt Grill.
Swedish Ambassador Jan Eliasson was on hand to welcome his compatriot and recall ABBA's glory days decades ago although he said he "didn't really appreciate them" back then.
"I found myself with a big smile on my face," he confessed. "Now I get it."
Jabeen Bhatti

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