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ABBA mania

Broadway play brings '70s hits to life

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Before Sarah Katherine Mason, 26, landed the role of Lisa in the Broadway musical, Mamma Mia!, featuring the music of ABBA, she was only familiar with one of the band's No. 1 hit songs, "Dancing Queen." But by spending the past five months touring throughout the U.S. performing these well-known hits, she has been cast directly into the full-blown "ABBAmania" experience.

"It's different than any other musical you've ever seen, in that all of the music is ABBA," the actress says by phone from St. Louis, Mo., where she's performing two shows that day. "So when most of the people come in, they are already familiar with the music so they can relate to it very easily."

Mason, who has been professionally acting for nearly 10 years, says her favorite song to perform in Mamma Mia! is "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"

"All the girls get to do it together and sing and dance together," she says. "It's a lot of fun."

The story, set on a Greek Island paradise, depicts a single mother and her daughter, Sophie Sheridan, played by Carrie Manolakos. Sophie, who is seeking the identity of her biological father, is getting married. A series of events leads up to a wedding day in which three men who may possibly be her biological father reside at the ceremony, where the final outcome is determined.

"Because it's so familiar and relatable, it's received well," Mason says. "And it's great as a performer to know that what you give will be received well."

Mason describes her character, Lisa, as Sophie's nave, silly and boy-crazy friend.

"I think everyone has a friend like that," Mason says of the role.

Throughout the story Lisa bands together with another of Sophie's friends, Ali, played by Lisa Nicole Wilkerson, to seek the identity of Sophie's true father.

"It mirrors real life really well," Mason says.

The cast and crew Mason currently performs with is part of Mamma Mia!'s North America Tour, which is one of 11 different productions touring internationally. The North America Tour is run by a residential crew, which is also in charge of the New York / Broadway, Las Vegas and London productions. The residential crew maintains what was initially brought to the first Broadway production by the original director, Phyllida Lloyd, and the original producer, Judy Craymer.

Everything contained within the productions from the costumes to the choreography is identical across the grid.

"So you could go to Japan or New York and see the exact same production," Mason explains. (How's that for globalization?)

Catherine Johnson wrote the original book, "Mamma Mia!." The musical's screenplay was adapted from the original book by Benny Andersson and Bjrn Ulvaeus.

"It's really funny," Mason says of the musical production. "It's got a lot of energy, kind of like one big party."

Mamma Mia! based on the songs of ABBA

Pikes Peak Center,

190 S. Cascade Ave.

Jan. 16-21, Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 7 p.m. and matinees Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $39.50-$64.50; call 520-SHOW (7469) or visit ticketswest.com for tickets and pikespeakcenter.org for more.

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