Chorus heard but never in limelight

The “Mamma Mia!” backing group at the Regent Theatre on Tuesday (back row, from left) backing musicians Sam van Betuw and Rob Burns, vocalist Peter Whigham, backing musician James Butler, vocalists Campbell Thomson, Karl Power, Paul Kelly, Aaron Power, and Ben Spiers; (front row) vocalists Cheryl Kloogh, Sandra Christie, Lori Moodie, Sam Shannon, Karli Adams, Emily Day, Alana Jamieson and Claire Newton. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Some days it can be quite a struggle, inspiration-wise, dreaming up a caption ''kicker'' (known in the trade as the dot-dot-dots) for photographs.

But, I have to admit today's didn't pose much of a challenge.

When Swedish group Abba were churning out their mega-hits many years ago, they matched the super-catchy melodies and easy-to-remember lyrics with snazzy titles like Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, and Money, Money, Money and I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do and Mamma Mia. and, of course, Super Trouper - plenty of ready-made material there to plagiarise for the sake of a snappy caption.

So, who are these ever-so-cheerful super troupers, all dressed up in their Hawaiian gear?

Well, they are the previously unsung (and unsprung) singers, I guess you could say, the hidden heroes of the popular Mamma Mia! stage show, which has been playing at the Regent Theatre since last week.

Concertgoers get to hear but not see the 17-strong backing group, who are the vocal driving force behind the show, yet they remain out of the limelight of centre-stage, hidden away in a room under the stage.

Each night, since the Dunedin show (a joint production between the Taieri Musical Society and DKCM Ltd), began, the backing group and band has, in the interests of ''fun'', dressed up in different costumes.

On Tuesday, when our photographer went behind the scenes, it was an Hawaiian theme, but last night it was cowboys and indians.

Still to come are Harry Potter and Mexican nights, among others.

The soundtrack to Mamma Mia! is based on arguably some of the most sing-along music ever written - the hits of Abba (1972-82).

I guess there's only one thing left to say to our happy troupe - Thank You For The Music.

• From one photographic line-up to another, I've had some great response to yesterday's old black and white file picture showing a contestants in a Celebrity Wheel of Fortune show back in the 1990s.

Of the 15 people, I managed to identify nine, with reasonable confidence, and invited readers to fill in the ''blanks'', if they could.

Well, suggestions came from all directions, including one from Auckland-based TV newsreader Peter Williams, who recognised Grant Walker (third left), the well-known ''voice-over'' man'', former cricketing star Lance Cairns (ninth from left) and, at extreme right, radio host Grant Kereama.

Then, after some discussion, we agreed it could well be netballer Wai Taumanu, now coach of the Silver Ferns, seated between Tom Scott and David Lange. When two other readers, Kim and Owen, had the same thought, we decided to settle for Wai.

That just left two unidentified people until Bernice Morton, from Waimate, sent her email (''hi, enjoyed the blast from the past ...''), suggesting the woman seated fourth from left was Ngaire (''pop singer early '90s, To Sir with Love cover''.)

This sent me scuttling to Google and, sure enough, Bernice seems to be on the money as it does looks like Ngaire Fuata, who, these days is a television presenter.

That means we have just one person to name, so, to help with the task, I've had her ''blown up'', so to speak, giving readers a closer look.

Does anyone recognise her now?

Thanks to everyone who entered into the spirit of the ''spot the stars'' challenge and rang or emailed me with names yesterday.

I also understand it was popular with local radio station listeners, too.

• Yesterday's story of a reader's ill-fated infatuation with actress Diana Rigg brought back memories of her role in The Avengers TV programme for Dorothy Gooding, of Alexandra.

She writes: ''Heartily agree with you re The Avengers and the delectable Mrs Peel. When we lived in Christchurch many years ago my husband brought home a kitten, which he named Mrs Peel, for our then 3-year-old daughter.

"We moved to Invercargill shortly after and - yes, you guessed it - the cat went missing from our new home and you can't believe how silly I felt walking around the area in the evening calling for 'Mrs Peel, Mrs Peel'!Luckily she was found several days later, hiding in a shed in a neighbouring street. PS: Mind you, Mr Steed wasn't too bad either.''

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