Actor Mark A. Harmon is convinced fans of the Broadway musical "Mamma Mia!" rank in dedication and enthusiasm at a level comparable to no other stage show following.
"When I talk to our audiences, I meet people who are sometimes driving five hours or more just to see 'Mamma Mia!' when it comes to the nearest city to their home," said Harmon, who plays one of the fickle could-be fathers-of-the bride in the musical tale of weddings and what ifs set to the songs of ABBA.
Broadway In Chicago is hosting this week's limited engagement for Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus' "Mamma Mia!," playing through Sunday at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.
Seen by more than 54 million people around the world, "Mamma Mia!," is celebrating 5,000 performances on Broadway and ranks as the 9th longest running show in Broadway history. The original West End production is now in its 15th year and has celebrated more than 6,000 performances in London and the international tour has visited more than 74 foreign cities in 35 countries and been seen by over 4.3 million people. The blockbuster 2008 feature film adaptation of "Mamma Mia!" is the most successful movie musical of all time grossing $600 million worldwide.
However, Harmon admits he's still among the ranks of those who have not seen the movie version.
"I am going to see the movie, and I know I'm way overdue to watch it," said Harmon, who lives near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and has logged more than 200 performances with this tour, which will end its U.S. run on June 15.
"Mamma Mia!" is the tale of independent, single mother Donna, who owns a small hotel on an idyllic Greek island, as she prepares for her daughter Sophie's dream wedding, with some help from gal pals, the practical and no-nonsense Rosie and the wealthy, multi-divorcee Tanya, who were part of her past life as the singing trio Donna and the Dynamos. When Sophie secretly invites three guests of her own, three possible dads as the final puzzle piece of her parentage, the walk down the aisle becomes a wait-and-see mystery set to the memorable songs and music of ABBA.
All of the favorite hits like "Dancing Queen" and "S.O.S." to "Money, Money, Money" and "Take a Chance on Me,"keep audiences returning to the fun and fantasy of musical romance. This tour is produced by Work Light Productions
Harmon said he auditioned for his role after some urging from the tour's casting director.
"About a year earlier, I had auditioned for the national tour of 'Catch Me If You Can' and didn't get a role," said Harmon, whose only other national tour was playing the role of Wilbur Turnblad in "Hairspray" in 2010.
"But when it came time to cast this tour of 'Mamma Mia!,' the same creative team remembered me for this role. I've been able to put my own stamp on this character and I think audiences notice Harry as I play him is someone who grows and changes by the final moments of the story."
"Mamma Mia!" is written by Catherine Johnson and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It features choreography by Anthony Van Laast, production design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken.
Harmon said he's also found this tour has served as his stage inspiration to stay fit and trim.
"Besides the now infamous spandex costumes in tribute to ABBA, I also have a scene in my bathing suit," Harmon said.
"Fortunately, I've been blessed with a metabolism that is very forgiving so I don't gain weight easily."