‘Mamma Mia’ phenomenon hits the Fox Theatre this weekend

Actors portraying Bill, Sam and Harry on U.S. Tour.
Actors portraying Bill, Sam and Harry on U.S. Tour.

It’s no wonder Andrew Tebo never tires of being in “Mamma Mia!” — the St. Louis native is one bundle of energy.

Tebo, who grew up in Wentzville, returns to The Fox Theatre when the landmark musical makes its final stop on its farewell tour July 28-30.

“It is so much fun! It’s such an amazing show,” he said. “The music is iconic, and it’s such high energy. By the end, the audience is up, dancing and singing.”

Incorporating the Swedish pop group ABBA’s songs, the romantic comedy “Mamma Mia!” quickly became a phenomenon after its London premiere in 1999. It has been seen by more than 60 million people.

It premiered in New York City, soon after 9/11, and is now the eighth-longest running show in Broadway history. It closed in 2014, but tours continued around the world until this final weekend.

Tebo has played Harry, aka “Headbanger Harry,” the uptight proper English gentleman who is one of the main character’s ex-boyfriends, for the past three years.

“Harry wants to re-live his good old days, when he was spontaneous,” he said.

The story is about Donna Sheridan, who runs a taverna on a Greek island. Her 20-year-old daughter Sophie is marrying Sky, and has invited three guys mentioned in her mom’s old diary to the wedding, in hopes of meeting her father.

American architect Sam, Australian adventurer Bill, and British banker Harry Bright show up, to Mom’s surprise. Her former band mates in Donna and the Dynamos, Rosie and Tanya, arrive for what they thought was a hen party.

“Dancing Queen,” “SOS, “The Winner Takes It All” and “Take a Chance on Me” are among the musical numbers. The choreography by Anthony Van Laast is lively, with colorful costumes.

“I think everyone can relate to all these characters. It strikes a chord. There’s also something that’s so special about this show. We go out there every night, and we see the audience having fun,” Tebo said.

Local audiences have embraced it, as national tours have played in St. Louis more than any other U.S. city.

“We are honored to host the last tour performance of ‘Mamma Mia’ after 15 years on the road,” said Fox spokesman Megan Ketcherside.

Tebo is excited to return home, but also because the show’s four performances here will be a milestone.

“We can’t wait to bring it to the Fox. We are super excited to close the show there,” he said. “They’ll probably be a revival in a few years, but for now, this is it.”

Tebo has played the Fox before, and was part of “A Christmas Carol” touring productions, playing Topper and the Ghost of Christmas Present with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.

Based in New York City for the past six years, he is currently auditioning for what could be next. However, he is used to life on the road. He has been part of regional theater programs in Florida and Colorado, and performed at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois.

He worked as an entertainer on Princess Cruises, and at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge in Alaska.

A graduate of Holt Senior High School in Wentzville, Missouri, Tebo said he started performing late. He played sports, and when his friends were auditioning for the school musical “Bye Bye Birdie,” so did he.

Tebo said he enjoyed it, but originally majored in public relations at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

But then he auditioned for “Guys and Dolls,” was cast as Nathan Detroit, one of the leads, and switched his major, earning a fine arts degree instead.

“I haven’t looked back,” he said. “I’m living the dream.”

The cast of “Mamma Mia!” is like a family, he said. Thirty actors are part of a crew with six musicians and 20 technicians.

“We’re so proud of this show. The energy of every actor is amazing,” he said.

The “Waterloo” number during the curtain call is one of his favorite aspects of the show, the outrageous outfits notwithstanding.

“Who knew they made spandex so strong?” he said, laughing.

But coming home not only means seeing family and friends, but also ordering Imo’s Pizza and stopping at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Spandex be darned. There are those upbeat fast-paced dance numbers, after all.

“There is just nothing like this show,” he said.

Like his hometown, “Mamma Mia” is hard to resist.

“Mamma Mia!”

  • When: July 28-30
  • Where: Fox Theatre, 539 N. Grand, St. Louis
  • MetroTix: 314-534-1111
  • Details: www.fabulousfox.com