By Richard Schultz, December 2016 Issue.
Although Andrew Tebo was a latecomer to pop culture phenomenon of ABBA, he’s now a fan of the music and its impact on audiences.
In what he considers his dream role, Tebo will portray Harry in the national farewell tour of Mamma Mia!, which hits the stage at ASU Gammage Dec. 6-11.
“I actually grew up without ABBA, but once I got to college and discovered the musical, I really fell in love with this energetic show,” he said.
As the tour crisscrosses the country, ABBA fans are afforded the chance to reconnect with the story and the music of this global smash hit that has been seen by an estimated audience of over 60 million people.
This sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise on the eve of a wedding. The bride’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.
The musical score combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All,” with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship.
For Tebo, it’s the pinnacle of his theatre career to date.
“I’m living the dream. That’s all I can say,” he shared. “I currently make my living traveling the world performing and making people laugh. What more could I want? Yeah, sometimes the migrant life is hard, but I look around at my tour family and friends and think about how fortunate I am to be doing what I love!”
Having grown up in the small town of Wentzville, Mo., (about 50 minutes west of St. Louis), Tebo’s high school had a thriving music and theater program where he first appeared in the chorus of “State Fair.” From that point on, Tebo was hooked. From there he attended college at Southeast Missouri State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting/directing. Since graduation, he has traveled the country performing in shows such as The Fantasticks and A Christmas Carol.
As Harry, the English banker formerly known as “head banger,” he’s one of three suspected fathers to the bride-to-be Sophie. Tebo describes Harry as an uptight banker who’s back to relive his wild side and has a secret that he needs to get “out” in the open. As the musical progresses, Harry reveals that he is gay and in a relationship with Nigel.
When asked about the status of Sophie’s father, Tebo observed, “I believe the father is different for everyone! That’s what’s so great about this show. It has something for everyone. Every audience member has a different perspective on who they like best and think is the father. We’re all a little bit her father.”
For Tebo, the finale is his favorite moment of the show.
“We mash up three of ABBA’s hits and rock out the last eight minutes of the show,” he said. “The audience goes wild. You actually feel like a rock star!”
When asked about the show’s appeal to the LGBTQ community, Tebo said he believes that show has a universal message.
“Mamma Mia! Is all about finding out who you really are and what makes you happy,” he said. “I think everyone has a little coming out and coming of age story within the musical.”
For him, touring with the show has been the greatest quest.
“I love adventuring around in new cities,” he said. “Tempe, we’re coming for you!”
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Tickets: $20-$190; 480-965-3434