Mamma Mia!


Mamma Mia! | St. Louis’ Michael Aaron Linder Comes Home to The Fox 

One of the possible dads, Harry Bright, is played in this tour production by native St. Louisan Michael Aaron Linder. I caught up with Linder, a new father, to chat about his homecoming and first national Broadway tour.









Photo: Joan Marcus 2008  


The Broadway sensation that is Mamma Mia! makes its way back to The Fabulous Fox next week for a limited run. Since its debut eight years ago, the smash hit musical based on the songs of ABBA has literally taken the world by storm with 11 global productions and over $2 billion in

ticket sales. Due most likely to the broad and international appeal of its music and story, Mamma Mia! has premiered in more cities worldwide faster than any other musical in history.

Mamma Mia tells the story of a single mother, Donna, and her spirited daughter, Sophie, who is about to wed on an idyllic Greek island. Sophie discovers that there are three possible men who could be her father – and she embarks on a weekend-long quest to find the right man to walk her down the aisle.

One of the possible dads, Harry Bright, is played in this tour production by native St. Louisan Michael Aaron Linder. Linder has had a bright career in Chicago theater including productions of The Producers, Sweeney Todd, The Secret Garden and The Full Monty. I caught with Linder, a new father, to chat about his homecoming and first national Broadway tour.

So you have St. Louis roots. Where did you grow up?

When I was a kid I lived in the Manchester/Ballwin area. I attended the New City School in the city, where my dad taught first grade. Then we moved to Edwardsville when I was in sixth grade. I went to school there at Edwardsville High School, then I went to SIU Carbondale to get my degree in musical theater. That’s where I met my wife. We got married in 2000 in St. Louis and lived there for about a year before moving to Chicago, where we live now. She tours with me with our four-month old son. My folks now live in North County (Florissant), which is where they grew up, and are both teachers in the Hazelwood School District.

When did you start becoming interested in theater and acting?

My folks loved theater and really encouraged me. They were actors themselves. I did shows in junior high and high school, then decided to go to college for it. My parents were avid opera and theatergoers. I think the first thing I ever saw was Annie at the American Theater. My parents took us to every show at the Muny every summer, and of course The Fox is where I really grew to love Broadway musicals. That theater is just remarkable. Even more than being on Broadway or anything, for me, the big thrill about this whole thing is to play The Fox Theater. As a kid you just sit there and get dizzy looking up at the ceiling, and I just cannot wait. It’s going to be really cool to play The Fox.

What was your first big "break" as far as making a careerof musical theater?

I had a lot of success doing regional theater in Chicago. But I suppose my big break was when I won the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for Sweeny Todd in 2005 and that sort of helped me get known around town and helped me land this tour, which is the first big Broadway tour I have been a part of.


Tell me about your character, Harry Bright.

The show is about a young woman who is getting married and wants to find out who her dad is. She finds her mom’s diary and finds out that it is one of three possible guys, and invites them all to this tiny, Greek island for her wedding. One is an American, one is an Australian and one is British – and that is the guy I play, Harry Bright. He has no idea why he’s been invited, but he’s eager to leave behind his stuffy day job and have a little adventure on this island.

What do you think it is about this show that makes it so appealing to such a wide audience?

When I got cast in the show in January of this year, I hadn’t even seen it. We rehearsed in New York and they let us go see it. I really didn’t know what to expect. I just knew it was ABBA, and those are sort of the songs that have always been in the background – ones I’d never really put on the CD player. But I was just totally blown away by the show. The goal of this show is just to give you a good time and it completely accomplishes the task. It makes you smile the whole time. It’s just fun entertainment and people love it. No matter what, by the end of the show, people are up on their feet dancing in the aisles.

What is your favorite number from the show?

I really like "Under Attack," which I think was from one of ABBA’s last albums, when Disco was coming to an end. The number opens Act II and is sort of a dream sequence. That number is great because they just took the song and didn’t change anything, but it just tells the story so well. It’s such a novel, well-executed use of that song. I also really love "Slipping Through My Fingers," which is a beautiful song. It’s really moving.

The film version of Mamma Mia! comes out this summer. Any word or thoughts onthe movie?

Yeah, from everything we’ve heard, it’s supposed to be really good. It will be fun to be a part of the show when the film comes out. From what I’ve seen of it, it looks like it is staying true to the original material.

When you come home to St. Louis, what are some of your favorite spots?

Blueberry Hill definitely. I love Forest Park, walking through there.  I used to love seeing bands at Mississippi Nights.


Mamma Mia! at The Fox Theater

June 3-8

Tues.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets on sale at the Fox Theater box office and all MetroTix locations.

Order by phone at 314-534-1111 or online at


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