Pappa Mia: StL Native Andrew Tebo Talks Ted Drewes, Imo’s and His Role in ‘Mamma Mia!’

10

Celebrating the “Mamma Mia!” farewell tour with its final stop at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Wentzville native and cast member Andrew Tebo is thrilled to return to his hometown.

“[St. Louis] is a very special community and such an amazing city,” says Tebo, who currently lives in New York City. “It’s gotten even better as I’ve gotten older. I come back regularly and go run around the city; I get to be a tourist.”

Although he’s been working as a professional actor for the past decade, Tebo was a relatively late bloomer in realizing his passion. “For some people, they start singing and dancing classes when they’re 5 years old and figure out that they love it,” he says. “I started much later. I was a jack-of- all-trades kind of kid.”

As a child, Tebo was involved in youth groups, student council and sports, but it wasn’t until high school when he experienced his first time singing and performing in front of an audience. “I just fell in love with it,” he says. “I love being in front of people, and that kind of energy and experience helped me in becoming a leader.”

After high school, Tebo says, he “fell into” theater when he got to Southeastern Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. “They had a budding theater program,” Tebo says. “They had auditions for a musical called ‘Guys and Dolls,’ and I went on a whim to audition for it. I got the role of Nathan Detroit, who is one of the lead roles in the show. It was a bit of a shock to me. I basically dove in head rst and hit the ground running.”

Originally majoring in public relations, Tebo fell in love with the ne arts and switched gears, receiving his bachelor’s degree in musical theater. “I started working professionally in the region during my summer sessions in college,” he says, adding that he worked in Chicago for a few years after graduation.

Although Tebo has spent much of his time on the road, he has called Manhattan home for the past six years; however, nowhere feels as much like “home” as St. Louis and the Fabulous Fox Theatre. “I don’t think St. Louisans know how special they have it,” he says. “The Fox is one of the most ornate, largest theaters; it takes your breath away. The fact that I grew up in St. Louis and get to perform on that stage is extremely special to me.”

One of the things Tebo misses most about his hometown is Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. “It is a Missouri staple,” he says. “Traveling the country, you’ll find some Ted Drewes pints in grocery stores, but there’s nothing like Ted Drewes fresh ice cream. I also can’t wait to take some of the cast members and friends to Imo’s Pizza when we get in, followed by some Ted Drewes, of course.”

Tebo portrays Harry Bright, one of the suspected fathers of Sophie Sheridan, and an ex-lover of Donna Sheridan. “Playing one of the three suspecting fathers, we call ourselves ‘the dad track,’” he says. “In ‘Mamma Mia!,’ there are a lot of shirtless men and women in tight clothing. The dads are mostly up there in comfy clothes living the dad dream — slouchy shirts, linen pants. We are constantly joking that we are working on our ‘dad bod,’ but my favorite costume — if you haven’t seen the show, I can’t spoil it — I look like a rock star, and it’s extremely tight. I didn’t know they made Spandex that strong.”

With 30 actors, six musicians and over 20 technicians, the cast and crew work tirelessly on the production. “It is a beautiful, spectacular show,” Tebo says. “We are full of energy and have a blast every night.”

With a full lineup of hits from ’70s pop group Abba, Tebo says, “I challenge the audience members to not be dancing by the end. … There is a very iconic Abba song — ‘Fernando’ — that is not in the show, but almost everyone will know it. It’s not written in, but it’s secretly put in the show: Donna hums it at one point. That’s a good little treat for the audience to listen for.”

Although this is the farewell tour of “Mamma Mia!,” Tebo says there will likely be a revival of the show in about five years. “Just like everything, they’re taking a moment to take a breath,” he says. “They’ll do a reboot and then restart it again.”

Don’t miss your last chance to see this “no-expenses-spared” rendition of “Mamma Mia!” July 28-30 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. M