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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Head Lice in Song and on the Cruise Ship

what do you thisnk of this song tribute:

Swedes Coming to America, Grandly Sign in to Recommend


Published: September 25, 2009

If the moribund music-theater genre facetiously nicknamed poperetta has any chance of a resurgence on Broadway, it could come somewhere down the road from an American production of the bombastic Swedish epic “Kristina.”

Rachel Papo for The New York Times

Russell Watson and Helen Sjoholm in a concert staging of “Kristina” at Carnegie Hall.

The show, which had two lavish concert performances at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, was created by Benny Andersson (music) and Bjorn Ulvaeus (lyrics), those box office champs who gave us “Mamma Mia!” (and before that “Chess”) and whose first-name initials provide the two B’s in ABBA. Herbert Kretzmer, a songwriter best known for his English lyrics for Charles Aznavour standards, collaborated with Mr. Ulvaeus on the flowery translations.

A mammoth hit in Sweden, where it opened in 1995 and ran for four years, “Kristina” is adapted from “The Emigrants,” Vilhelm Moberg’s novel about a group of Swedes, who, escaping multiple hardships, immigrate to America in the middle of the 19th century and settle in the Minnesota Territory. The closest comparison to a Broadway forerunner would be to “Les Misérables,” another musical pageant with epic pretensions, although the score of “Kristina” is more substantial.

At the second Carnegie Hall show, the creators were splendidly served by the assembled forces, which included a cast of 27 and the 50-piece American Theater Orchestra, conducted by Paul Gemignani. The ensemble delivered a well-balanced, finely detailed symphonic sound.

The story was illustrated by black-and-white slides over which florid historical commentary, resembling the titles in the movie “Gone With the Wind,” was scrolled. Louise Pitre (from “Mamma Mia!”), playing Ulrika, a village prostitute who begins a new life in America, filled in as occasional narrator.

The lead singers, Helen Sjoholm, who played the title character in the original Swedish production, and Russell Watson, portrayed the show’s central married couple, Kristina and Karl Oskar, who undertake the harrowing three-month voyage to the New World along with children and other residents of their village. Both have first-rate poperetta voices, with Mr. Watson’s Puccini-ready tenor the more operatic. Each brings down the house at least once.