ABBA S.O.S.: Mamma Mia! Pops Over to Houston

John-Michael Zuerlein, John Bisom and Paul DeBoy
John-Michael Zuerlein, John Bisom and Paul DeBoy
Joan Marcus

Veteran actor Paul DeBoy has been on the road for the last seven months in Mamma Mia!, the musical that a good portion of the musical-theater-loving public has already seen in at least a dozen languages around the world. Obviously, there's strong belief in the global theater community that the show still has room for new fans as well as people determined to see it again.

Armed with the intriguing promise that "anything can happen in live theater" (but an unwillingness to be specific about any mistakes), DeBoy doesn't care if people have seen the movie version with Meryl Streep and Colin Firth.

The musical version is different, he says. This is an ensemble of real singers revisiting all those Swedish pop group songs such as "S.O.S.," "Dancing Queen" and "Take a Chance on Me." "It feels like a rock concert when you're watching it," he tells Art Attack.

This will be the first visit to Houston for DeBoy, who plays Harry, one of three possible dads of Sophie. Mamma Mia! is scheduled for a brief six-day run starting May 10 sponsored by Gexa Energy/Broadway Across America.

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DeBoy grew up with ABBA's music and says: "If I have to be on the road with just one type of music, ABBAs not a bad group to listen to for a year. I'm having a good time."

One of the reasons he got the part, DeBoy says, is that he's "made a sort of career of making British plays and British accents. I tend to play a lot of Brits." Harry is a conservative British banker who had a brief fling with Donna, Sophie's mother, during an earlier time of his life.

In fact, DeBoy's two favorite roles ever involve Harrys or Henrys. Besides this one, he loves the Henry Higgins role he played in My Fair Lady. "There's nothing like taking the last bow in a musical, watching the whole entire company turn upstage by you," he remembers.

Mamma Mia!'s last scene, in which the dads come out in their special costumes, gives him another kind of thrill. "I feel like a rock star," he says.

Mamma Mia! opens May 10 and runs through May 15 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For ticket information go to www.thehobbycenter.org or call 713-315-2525 or go to www.broadwayacrossamerica.com/houston.

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