ABBA’s Music in ‘Mama Mia!’ Unites Generations at Brooke Hills Playhouse

Laurie Labishak, Emily Hores and Kelsey Ohler, from left, rehearse for the Brooke Hills Playhouse production of the musical comedy, “Mamma Mia!”

WELLSBURG — The Brooke Hills Playhouse’s actors in the musical comedy “Mamma Mia!” — with cast members ranging in age from their teens to their 60S — find themselves united by a love of ABBA’s music, according to director Emily Hores of Wellsburg. The musical features a book by Catherine Johnson and music and lyrics by ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, with Stig Anderson collaborating on some songs.

The show concludes its run today and Saturday, July 12-13, with shows beginning at 8 p.m., as well as a 2 p.m. matinee show on Sunday, July 14. Reservations are available by calling or texting the Playhouse at 304-737-3344.

“Mamma Mia!” takes place during a 24-hour period in the summer of 1999 on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi, where bride-to-be Sophie dreams of having her father give her away at her upcoming wedding.

The only problem is that Sophie’s mother, the free-spirited Donna, refuses to identify Sophie’s father, so Sophie narrows down the list to three likely suspects, and invites all three men to the wedding.

Hores admits that she had not expected the younger actors to have a connection with ABBA. “Surprisingly, the younger members of the cast were familiar with ABBA’s music,” she said.

Hores speculated that the connection might come from the show’s structure. “We are performing ABBA’s music with a more narrative take than a pop Top 40 hit, with each song’s placement in the show helping to narrate what the characters are going through or have gone through,” she explained.

Hores herself grew up with the sounds of ABBA. “Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, ABBA’s music was a staple in my home,” she said. She added that the group’s music is a major asset for the show. “I love how the music of ‘Mamma Mia!’ gets the audience dancing and singing along,” she said.

“There is a nostalgia that overcomes people of my generation when you hear it,” Hores said. “My own mind goes back to Casey Kasem and ‘American Top 40,'” she concluded.

The rest of the Playhouse’s 48th season includes “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” adapted by Michele L. Vacca from the beloved Grimm Brothers fairy tale, to be staged July 26-28 and Aug. 2-4; and John Patrick’s comedy, “A Bad Year for Tomatoes” to be presented Aug. 16-18 and 23-25.

The season will end the weekends of Sept. 20-22 and 27-29, with Ken Ludwig’s award-winning comedy, “Lend Me a Tenor.”

This year, season passes will be available all summer long at the pre-season prices, which give patrons five admissions for the price of four.

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