|Insider's View of Philadelphia's Mamma Mia
posted by Ralph Malachowski on Dec 21, 2016 10:30am | comments
Calling all “Dancing Queens”! The Broadway musical Mamma Mia is headed for Philadelphia, and it’s coming to the Merriam Theatre December 27th through the 31st. Andrew Tebo, who plays Harry Bright in the show, talked a bit about the musical, his role in it, and his life in the performing arts and as a gay man.
Ralph Malachowski: Can you tell us something about this touring company of Mamma Mia headed to Philadelphia?
Andrew Tebo: Sure thing. Right now, we’re enjoying some beautiful weather in Tempe, Arizona. We’re here on tour, and the audiences are great. Mamma Mia has been going strong for sixteen years now, fueled by great songs from ABBA and a fun story that’s full of plot twists and full of secrets. By this time most people think everyone has seen the show at least once, either on stage or as a film, but we find that’s not the case. There are always people who come to the show not knowing what to expect. With that said, I really shouldn’t give away the plot, since my character, Harry Bright, has at least one secret of his own. Harry is the uptight English banker who (spoiler alert) comes out as gay at the end of the show. Colin Firth played Harry in the film.
This is Mamma Mia’s farewell tour. After this tour is over next year, so far it’s planned for July 30, 2017, the curtain will come down! This production won’t be seen again after fourteen years on Broadway. I believe that Mamma Mia opened on Broadway shortly after 9/11, so it filled a need for people at the time for a feel-good musical. It is still doing just that. There might be revivals, but it won’t be the same production, so this is your last chance.
RM: Andrew, how did you find your way into the performing arts, and how did the role of Harry Bright find you?
AT: I grew up in a small town outside of Saint Louis, Missouri, and attended Missouri State University where I loved performing. I have been so lucky professionally in that I have worked steadily since graduating, about a decade, which is not always the case with actors, dancers, and singers. I have worked in some wonderful places which have allowed me to meet wonderful people and experience others from all over the United States and from abroad. I worked six summers for Princess Cruises, and had many opportunities to see Denali National Park and the majesty of Alaska. I spent many Christmas holidays in Omaha, Nebraska, performing in The Christmas Carol. I also was part of a theatrical group in Colorado for years, too. All told, it has been a great life.
I’ve been a part of the Mamma Mia tour now for the past two-and-a-half years. This is now the third cast. I began in March 2014. Right now, the cast is about half the same as when I began and half new casting. This is a four-year tour, so cast changes are to be expected. I’ve had a great time with Mamma Mia. I think Philadelphia will be in for a treat with this cast. Our Donna is a dynamo.
RM: In your travels, you’ve seen many cities. Which city stands out for you?
AT: I think one of the most interesting cities for me, hands down, has been Anchorage, Alaska, in January. The food, the people, and our audiences for Mamma Mia were incredible. There were only five to six hours of sunlight in January, and contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't frigid. We enjoyed some mild weather during our stay. For a city in our future, I am anticipating playing the Denver Center in Denver, Colorado.
RM: All Philadelphia men want to know the answer to this question: Married, single, or attached?
AT: (Laughing.) I have a lovely partner named Rob living in New York City. He’s a Muggle.
RM: A what?
AT: (Laughing.) The Harry Potter books had a term for an ordinary mortal without magical powers, a Muggle. Rob isn’t in show business, so he’s a Muggle.
RM: Oh … Okay. I notice you said you read the books, not saw the films. So what happens to you on your way to Philadelphia and in the new year?
AT: Well, I’m really excited to revisit Philadelphia. It’s such a great place with wonderful food, people, and excitement. I’ll be looking for some micro-breweries during my time off. Before that, though, the entire cast has a week off for Christmas, so I’ll be happily spending some time with my man in New York. After Mamma Mia wraps, I’ll be in New York City in August. I have a few things waiting for me professionally, and I am always the optimist.
Mamma Mia will be at the Merriam Theater, 250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, from December 27 through December 31. For more information, call 215-893-1999, or visit their website, https://www.kimmelcenter.org/pdp-pages/201617/broadway-philadelphia/mamma-mia/
photo credit: Kevin Thomas Garcia