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Roger Smith

ANN-MARGRET – A WINNER!

A girl from the County of Jamtland came home yesterday. We must have missed her quite a lot, because she brought the house down at the China Theatre.

And when the audience just wouldn't stop clapping and screaming, Ann-Margret tip-toed to the front of the stage, tears running, and said what might have been the one unrehearsed line of the evening:

'What's the word for that thing you get when your hair all stand up?' We just melted...

Just think of the conditions for the evening: A Swedish-born girl who has done pretty well in the U.S., comes 'home' at the age of 40, home to an audience who only have seen her on TV or maybe in a film or two. But never live on stage.

'Goosebumps' was the word, of course.

Intuitionally she unlocked the keys to all our hearts.Seldom before have I been able to pinpoint just that moment when a hard working performer finally gets her grip on an audience.

Otherwise the setting for the night was quite magnificent in itself. Musical director Donn Trenner's tight 26-piece band, including about a dozen Swedes, sat in two rows. 10 fantastic dancers, both male and female. A film-, sound- and light show, where laserbeams a la Star Wars shot out on the stage at various points. I swear that Ernst Rolf (Swedish artist) would have loved all the technology of this Las vegas-import, fifty years after the theatre first staged shows. Sometimes, when it thunders and lights this much, the performer can be lost in all the technology.

We already knew Ann-Margret isn't the world's best singer, her vocal shortcomings are often hiden behind layers of echos. But, sweet Jesus how well they have hidden them this time. Her choreographer, Lester Wilson, is a true world class artist, every kick, every move, is made to have the star look fantastic.

It's first when the dancers have the stage all to themselves, that it becomes a world class dance act. A couple of numbers must have been about the coolest that have ever been performed on a Swedish stage. Like for instance when they are square-dancing oil-drillers in Texas.

Ann-Margret, you have to admit, is a genuine fighter. One of the highlights, is the nostaligic look back at the swing and jittrebug era of the 40's. You can hear the echoes of Broadway, where right now, 'Sophisticated Ladies' and 'Ain't Misbehaving' are being played on stage.

When the whole house rocks along with hits like 'Take the A-Train' and Fats Waller's 'The Joint is Jumping' Ann-Margret is home free. You might not have been magnetized by a solo-artist personality, but what you have seen can be described as a shy girl coming out as a rockin' Barbie doll, a true winner. She didn't even blink an eye, when the audience giggled during her folklore/nostalgia number, 'Violer Till Mor'. On a night like this, she probably felt more Swedish than all of us in the theatre.

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by Hans Fridlund

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