Mamma Mia musical bringing ABBA’s big hits to Canberra

MUSICAL PHENOMENON: The cast of Mama Mia! ahead of their Canberra Theatre Centre performances later this year. Picture: Supplied
MUSICAL PHENOMENON: The cast of Mama Mia! ahead of their Canberra Theatre Centre performances later this year. Picture: Supplied

It is an Italian phrase made popular by fictional video game character Mario, and Swedish pop group ABBA.

Mamma Mia!, the “jukebox musical” based on the songs of ABBA grossing billions of dollars worldwide since 1999, is set to tour Australia. The production will run for three weeks in Canberra, beginning on November 24.

Josef Ber, known for his role as Dominic Wales in the television show Rush, will star in the production as Bill Austin.

Ber was introduced to musicals at the age of seven with a role in an amateur production of Gypsy.

After experiencing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “magical” Cats, he was sold on the world of professional big-stage musical productions.

By the age of 12 he began singing lessons and quickly picked up work at shopping centres, Australia’s Wonderland and the production of Grease.

During his time at Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, Ber fine tuned his stage acting.

“I hadn’t had any exposure to straight acting stuff, it had all been singing and dancing before that, so I’m a classically trained actor I guess now. It taught me a lot of the theory and history behind theatre, and playwriting I was completely ignorant of before,” he said.

“It’s like any craft where you actually get to make projects each year, which is invaluable.”

Ber loves the way acting exposes him to new ways of thinking, and different perspectives.

“You might have to play a character you completely disagree with politically, or something like that, so it’s good to take the time to see things from that angle, the motivations of this person and why they would make that decision, why would they do that? It teaches you about yourself usually, every job you find out another bit about yourself,” he said.

“You learn to question your own beliefs and thoughts at times, because we fall into patters at time, but when you have to challenge them it can really teach you a lot about yourself.”

A big part of forging a career on stage is nailing the audition.

“You learn what’s best for you as a performer,” he said.

Like any job interview you have to be prepared, know your lines so when you go in there you’re not worrying about remembering because you’ll be so nervous. It can be scary.”

Preparing for productions and sharing his days with talented people is something Ber really enjoys.

“On there’s so much talent in the room, they’re just fun people. I mean we sing and dance and jump around and play for a living,” he said.

“I’m really living the dream at the moment.”