Lori Haley Fox, Lauren Mufson and E. Faye Butler
Joan Marcus

Let's come out and say it: Musical theater can be really goofy. It is, after all, a genre in which individuals -- regardless of situation -- will abruptly break out in song at any given moment.

But the charming, tongue-in-cheek Mamma Mia! revels in the goofiness with its raucous ABBA classics. (Can anyone truly question the ass-shakin' power of "Dancing Queen," "Super Trouper" or "Take a Chance on Me"?) "I've definitely worked on the music from an actor's approach," says Lauren Mufson, who plays the lead character, Donna. "But when you get on stage, you feel like a rock star. You're singing these songs that everyone loves to a huge house."

And while a large percentage of the maniacal audiences who attend the 11 worldwide productions are there for the disco, there's a plot, too. On a fictional Greek island, Sophie, a beaming bride-to-be, has the perfect wedding planned, except for one catch: She has no daddy to walk her down the aisle. Digging through her mom Donna's stuff, Sophie comes up with three possible fathers. She invites the men to the wedding, which annoys the hell out of Donna, a hotel manager who used to front a dazzling trio called Donna and the Dynamos.


Mamma Mia!

Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana.

Opens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, and runs through March 27. For tickets, showtimes and information, call 713-629-3700 or visit $21.25 to $71.25.

What happens next is a kooky, disco-infused story line that playwright Catherine Johnson penned as an excuse to weave the musical's 22 ABBA tunes into the plot. "This show isn't going to a very deep place," explains Mufson. "But the music is so memorable and the story is sweet and something that everyone can relate to -- I don't know why it works, but it does."

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Mufson promises some "ridiculous" costumes and a lot of camp. "I think a little camp goes a long way. I'd love the show to be campier," she says, envisioning a different version of "dancing queens."

"In 15 years when I'm older and doing the community- theater version," she says with a laugh, "maybe I'll make some of the women men!"

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