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Columbus ready to say ‘Mamma Mia!’ to classic musical yet again

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Mamma mia, here we go again. The Broadway musical “Mamma Mia” is back in Columbus.

For one week starting Dec. 13, “Mamma Mia!” will be at the Palace Theatre. The comedic musical, written by Catherine Johnson, is based on songs by ABBA.

Justin Berkobein, a singer and dancer in the ensemble, said while this is a completely new show for him, the vocals are an outstanding part of the performance.

“About 95 percent of the background and supporting vocals are sung live backstage,” Berkobein said. “My favorite part is being able to be singing in the midst of a handful of really talented singers, when everyone is harmonizing and blending. It’s a neat experience to be able to a part of that.”

The play tells the story of a girl on her wedding night, trying to find out which of three possible men could be her father. While the subject matter could potentially put a damper on someone’s mood, the show is light, funny and incredibly entertaining, Berkobein said.

“It’s definitely an easy-going, fun time if you just want to be able to laugh and dance along and have a really, really pleasant theater experience,” Berkobein said. “This is … (a) great way to intro yourself to musical theater if you’re not so inclined already.”

“Mamma Mia!” will have been on the road for 10 years this February, said Berkobein, who had been traveling with the production for about two months. He also said he is excited to visit Columbus for the first time.

Ashley Efaw, a second-year in landscape architecture, said she is looking forward to seeing the show with her mom, dad and boyfriend on Dec. 15. Efaw said she has seen the movie version of the production, but has never been to the play.

“I loved the movie, I really liked it. It was just fun and playful,” Efaw said. “I don’t have expectations for it to be a really contemplative play. It’s just kind of a playful, enjoyment thing.”

The songs hold the most appeal for Efaw, who said she frequently goes to musical productions. Even though the story line “gets a little cheesy,” Efaw said she is really looking forward to the show.

Rachel Kelley, a third-year in math education, said the songs are her favorite part of “Mamma Mia!” Kelley said she has seen the play multiple times.

“I’m excited for the cast to perform ‘Lay All Your Love On Me,'” Kelley said. “It’s my favorite song.”

Though he is not a trained dancer, Berkobein said his dancing in the “dance-heavy” show has been “so far, so good.”

“The biggest challenge was learning the choreography in a very short amount of time,” Berkobein said. “Not that any of it is particularly complicated, we just didn’t have a lot of time to learn it.”

Columbus is the last stop on the tour before the actors get a break for the holidays, Berkobein said. Though they are tired, he said this will only make the show even better.

“So I think everybody, by the time we get to Columbus, will be really excited to put in a good week of really solid performances,” Berkobein said.

The worst thing an audience member can do during this show is to leave before the play is really over, Berkobein said.

“There’s an extended ‘Mamma Mia!’ finale in which some of the best cast members perform,” Berkobein said. “Three songs, concert-style songs and a dance finale — it’s really exciting. My biggest tip is to make sure the show is definitely over before you leave.”

Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased at the Ohio Theatre box office, Ticketmaster or by phone at (614) 469-0939.

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