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Here we go again! Feel good musical returns to South Coast after being postponed since 2020 by pandemic

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Veronica Slavin
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Kim Huber and Eric Martsolf star in 5-Star Theatricals production of Mamma Mia!

After a year and a half of cancelled performances, theaters are welcoming audiences again. A musical theater favorite has opened on the South Coast.

Infectious music, a funny story, and high energy dance numbers – it’s hard to think of a musical with a sunnier disposition than Mamma Mia.

But…it’s been a long time coming. The show was originally scheduled to open in March 2020, but was postponed by the pandemic.

Richard Israel, the show’s director, told KCLU it was "devastating" to close down around a week and a half before they were due to open to the public.

"We were working on it prior to the pandemic and we shut down about a week and a half before we were supposed to open, so that was a little bit devastating for us.

"I always knew we were coming back," he added.

"It was great to know that there was something to come back to and not the indefinite, 'Will I never be working again?' Knowing this was a touchstone was incredibly helpful during those nasty 18 months," said Israel.

Kim Huber plays Donna Sheridan in the show – she says being back on stage in front of a live audience is emotional for the cast – who have been waiting for this moment for over a year and a half.

"I didn't sing for a year," said Huber. "Singing has always been my touchstone and I didn't sing for year because it's too connected to too many feelings, too many hopes. There was a time it felt scary to hope."

She added: "I'm almost scared I might start crying in this happy show! What's so fun about Mamma Mia is the audience is an extra character in the show, they know what's coming, they know the show and we love that."

Eric Martsolf, plays Sam Carmichael – no spoilers but he’s one of the possible FOUR dads - in this high-spirited, feel-good story of what it means to be family.

"It's really never determined who the dad is - that's the interesting thing," Martsolf told KCLU.

Martsolf – who is a Thousand Oaks local - has also been playing Brady Black in soap opera Days Of Our Lives for 13 years.

"Everything paused [in the pandemic] but soaps were one of the first mediums to come back. We found a way to do it.

"We tested regularly, and we took precautions. We are not allowed in each other's dressing rooms, we have to run lines virtually. The only time we can be unmasked is on set.

"People need to have their soaps, especially during a pandemic - people got nuts without their stories, I went nuts not being able to tell them," he said.

Martsolf said that performing live on stage is something he looks forward to.

"I've always been a fan of musical theatre and have done it since high school. It's been my love for so long.

"The fear of getting in front of an audience, is the greatest high in the world because anything can happen.

"In television if you screw up, you can go back and do it again. Out there [on stage] there's no going back."

Mamma Mia plays at the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center until Sunday.