What: “Mamma Mia!”

When: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday; additional performances at 2 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21

Where: Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: $32-$47 plus fees

Contact: towertheatre.org or 541-317-0700

Imagine the challenges that come with staging a well-known musical such as “Mamma Mia!”

David DaCosta, Thoroughly Modern Productions’ founder and artistic director, certainly has: DaCosta is at the helm of TMP’s production of “Mamma Mia!” in performance this weekend and next at the Tower Theatre in Bend.

The whimsical jukebox musical is constructed around the ear-worm tunes of ’70s Swedish pop hit generators ABBA, and includes such tunes as “Mamma Mia,” along with “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes it All,” “SOS” and “Super Trouper” and others, performed by a live band. The story is set on a Greek isle, where Sophie, a young woman, is all set to get married — and discover which of her mother’s three male companions 20 years earlier is her father.

It may not come as a surprise to those who have seen other productions, or the 2008 film version starring Meryl Streep, to hear DaCosta say that the script reads very campy. So DaCosta, fresh off of last month’s “Newsies” and “Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” asked this cast to play their roles a little straighter than scripted.

“I wanted them to play things seriously. I believe that there’s a lot of meat to the characters in the story. I like the story, and I didn’t want to play the shtick. … I cautioned them, ‘Let’s not go for the laughs and the shtick. Don’t play these people as caricatures. Play them as real people.’ These guys have totally responded to that.”

That said, DaCosta also believes that such a well-known show has a responsibility to hit certain notes.

“These are the kinds of shows — like ‘Rocky Horror Show’ and ‘Evil Dead’ — where people are coming to see what they want to see. “You gotta walk a fine line. You gotta be careful that you don’t have some crazy take on it, or reinterpretation,” DaCosta said. “And at the end of the day, it’s about the ABBA music, really. And the story. People love the story. It’s this independent woman who has this daughter, and she’s looking for her dad. There are some universal themes there.”

Then there’s the pitfall of too much similarity to past iterations, but one way to avoid that is simply making smart use of the talent on hand.

“You start from the approach of, ‘OK, this is who we have. Let’s play to our strengths. Let’s play to the people that we have, the talents that they have.’ That certainly gets you off on the right foot, creating your own show, your own production.”

He had plenty of talent to put to use with his cast, featuring notable musical theater regulars and a few relative newcomers.

“They’re a fun cast,” DaCosta said. “We have a real diverse group, age-wise and that.”

Former Las Vegas performer Mollie Tennant is Donna, mother to Sophie, who’s played by Isabella Torrance, a 17-year-old senior at Summit High School making her first appearance in a TMP show.

You can break much of the cast down into trios. Donna’s pals are her former bandmates Tanya (Christie Capucci) and Rosie (Lindsay Burden).

“The ladies are fantastic as the trio there. Lindsay is hilarious, and Christie Capucci is fantastic, as always,” DaCosta said.

Sophie has her two bridesmaids, Lisa (Natalie Manz) and Ali (Dana Thomas). Jarod Gatley is Sophie’s fiance, Sky, and his pals include Pepper (Dan Schimmoller, back from his stretch in the Southwest) and Eddie (Dakota Weeda). Ryan Klontz, Gary Loddo and Stephen Wagner are Sam, Harry and Bill, the three possible fathers, respectively.

Loddo’s not only playing Harry — he’s also the set builder.

“Gary’s done double duty. The set’s going to be incredible,” DaCosta said. “This is going to be his first time on stage for TMP, second time on stage altogether. So I think he’s done a pretty admirable job.”

Klontz has appeared in many TMP presentations, among them “Shrek the Musical,” “Rock of Ages” and “Evita.”

“Ryan is killing it,” DaCosta said of Klontz’s work as Sam. “He’s a super-talented guy. His voice is unlike anybody’s in town, and he’s just great to work with.”

DaCosta also considers Klontz a kindred spirit.

“We’re both knucklehead football fans. … We were both athletes in high school and college, and were both kind of dragged into theater around the same age, and have both made our hay with it, so to speak.”

23974343