An Abba fan and her ‘super trouper’ daughters celebrated the Mamma Mia Musical returning to London wearing glitzy costumes made specially for the occasion.
Superfan Jane Henry, 56, will be running up three further sequin-festooned outfits – part of a wardrobe of tribute gear which has cost her £850 to make -in time for the trio to see the band’s avatar concert, Voyage, next year… the first time they will have seen their heroes live.
Abba-mad since she saw them win Eurovision in 1974 singing ‘Waterloo’ when she was nine, Jane – a retired chief officer for a local council – is so bonkers about the band that she made matching ‘Mamma Mia’ dresses for all her pals to wear on her May 2016 hen night.
Spending around £50 a time, she has made a mix and match wardrobe of 17 Abba outfits that she shares with her ‘Dancing Queen’ daughters Lucy Henry, 26, a digital media executive, and Chloe Henry, 23, a photographer.
And she will be jetting her family – including her husband Richard, 57, chairman of a property development company – to the Greek island of Skopelos next year to take photos outside The Church of Agios Ioannis Kastri, used in the hit 2008 Mamma Mia movie.
Jane, of Tynemouth near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who is also mum to Thomas Henry, 25, an admin worker, said: “As soon as I saw Abba on telly as a little girl, I was blown away by the music and the outfits.
“They inspired me to get a guitar, aged 10, and I started piano lessons aged 11.
“I bought all the sheet music with my pocket money and learnt every song they performed,
“I would sing ‘Fernando’ at school concerts and wear flared jeans and sparkly tops.”
She added: “My favourite was Agnetha, and because they were an item, I also really liked Bjorn, I was gutted when they parted.”
Turning 17 and starting her first job at her local council as a committee clerk, she saved to see them live on stage – hoping to catch them on their next tour, only for them to split-up soon after in 1982 before she got the chance.
But the music never died for Jane, who retired early at 50 after battling breast cancer.
She said: “I always wanted to see them live, so I was really excited about finally seeing them on stage. Then they split shortly after.
“Still, their music lives on, as it never ages. There’s nothing else like it and it just makes people so happy.
“The real art is in their storytelling, which transports you to a different place. That’s really special.”
Not content with being a solo superfan, Jane soon roped in her two daughters.
“Lucy and Chloe love Abba, too,” she said.
“I took them to their first Abba singalong in 2008 when they were 10 and 13 and they loved it.”
She added: “We’re very close, so we go to all the shows together. I make an outfit for each of us and they just love them.
“When the first ‘Mamma Mia’ movie came out in July 2008, we saw it at least six times.”
Then, several years later, in May 2016, she turned to Mamma Mia again – running up outfits like those in the film for the pals who joined her on her hen night.
She laughed: “I loved the idea of an Abba hen and we really threw ourselves into it.
“I made Abba jackets that spelt out the band’s name and we all dressed in white.
“The outfits took a few weeks of sewing, but they looked really fantastic.”
She added: “We had blow up microphones and sang the night away watching Arrival, an Abba tribute band. We then finished the night in a karaoke bar singing along to Abba’s greatest hits. ”
Every few months, Jane goes to an Abba-themed event – often with her daughters – and has seen tribute band Arrival so often they even mention her at gigs.
She said: “The girls and I go to something every few months.”
She added: “We went to Arrival: The hits of Abba in May 2016 and 2017. I try to see them whenever they play near me – it’s a tribute band to Abba.
“They always give me a special mention and comment on Facebook!
“Then we went to Abba Mania in 2016 and 2017 in Manchester and London.”
She added: “I also see The Show: A Tribute to Abba whenever they play near me.
“I average six Abba events a year, not including tribute bands, and have a book of all my themed visits. I also still have 20 vinyl LPs from childhood. ”
One of her best Abba trips was to Stockholm in the band’s native Sweden with Lucy in June 2019. to see the museum devoted to them.
She said: “Visiting the Abba museum with Lucy was amazing. We had so much fun and, of course, wore the outfits I’d made.
“I also went to Vis in Croatia with Richard in June 2018, to visit the filming locations for the second film, ‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again,’ – released that year.
“If I could go to an Abba event every month I would.”
And at every Abba-themed night out, Jane wears a tribute outfit.
She said: “I make three of each, as I always go with my daughters, Lucy and Chloe. I have three eight litre tubs that are full of the costumes I’ve made.
“My favourite is the denim outfit at the moment with the flares and waistcoat. When you put the flares on with the sparkles I love it.”
She added: “But the outfits I’m making at the moment might be quickly becoming my favourites. They’re cat dresses with sparkles.
“I’ve made 17 outfits all together and am working on another nine for the avatar concert and ‘Mamma Mia the Party’, a feel-good night out singing along to the band’s infamous film next year at London’s O2.
“Each trio of outfits can take anything from two weeks to two months to make.”
She added: “Some need a lot of work, as I sew them from scratch. Others, like my denim Abba look, are a little easier. I just add a bit of Abba sparkle and flair to an existing outfit.
“Even going to the cinema to see Mamma Mia means I have to put my sparkly flares on. I love dressing up, it’s so much fun.”
With an Abba-themed 2022 ahead of her, she is even hoping to persuade her husband, Richard, to dress up for Mamma Mia the Party at the O2.
“I’m hoping to get a picture of all of us together – the whole family in ABBA costume!” said Jane.
But she is most excited about seeing the Voyage concert in May.
She said: “I’m so excited to see the Abba avatars.”
She added: “It will be like reliving my 17-year-old experience by seeing them as they looked before they split.
“But I just have one thing to say to the supergroup from a superfan and that’s, ‘Thank you for the music!'”