The story follows Sophie on the eve of her wedding in the Greek Isles as she sets out to uncover the identity of her father. The quest brings together three men from her mother’s past and a cast of characters who turn her world upside down.
Yael Reich returns to the “Mamma Mia!” tour for a second year as part of the ensemble and as the understudy for Sophie. Reich is no stranger to musical theater: She has played Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha,” Anita in “West Side Story” and Lily in “Annie,” to name a few.
The New York native and University of Florida graduate talked to the AJT while hanging out in New Orleans.
AJT: This is your second year as a cast member of “Mamma Mia!” Why did you come back to the show?
Reich: I started the journey in 2012 with “Mamma Mia!” and it’s such a highly heartwarming, enthusiastic show that anyone who leaves the show is elated.
AJT: How has being a member of the ensemble stretched you?
Reich: They gave me the privilege of being a dancer. I never felt more comfortable in my dancing than I do now. It’s been a humbling experience and challenging for me, but I am grateful the director and choreographer trusted me enough to give me that part.
AJT: What’s your favorite song in the musical?
Reich: “I Have Dream” is a huge blast at the end of Act 2; everyone goes wild as the curtain comes down. I love the singing, and there are 28 songs in the show, and we perform all 28 songs. “Thank You for the Music” is also a fun, singsongy, kumbaya song for the cast.
AJT: Musicals and Broadway are a big part of the American Jewish culture. What are some of the musicals that influenced you growing up?
Reich: Growing up, my grandmother would watch all of the classics with us, like “Singing in the Rain,” “Funny Girl,” “My Fair Lady” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Barbra Streisand was a huge influence. We actually saw her perform in Israel during her last tour, but she says every tour is her last tour. But we saw her perform.
AJT: What is your favorite “Fiddler on the Roof” song?
Reich: I would have to say “Tradition” because it starts off the show in such a full way. One thing I like is a full chorus and an orchestra because that’s what I grew up with in synagogue at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. They have an amazing Friday night service, and you get a slice of the community and togetherness and what it means to the Jewish community.
AJT: When did you know you wanted to do musical theater professionally?
Reich: I think I always really knew. The first show I did was a version of “The Little Mermaid.” It was cool to start my journey with a song I knew, but I really knew when I accepted the manager position in the musical theater at my high school. There was no doubt in my mind once the decision was made.
AJT: How do you see your career evolving?
Reich: I think everyone in the industry has goals of Broadway and producing shows. I want to get to a point where I can create a show with people I’ve met while working and the people I love. I want to create it with the people I love from the ground up. You want to work with your friends because you know what they’re capable of creatively and intellectually.
AJT: What’s it like traveling with a full musical cast?
Reich: It’s incredible. Once you’re living, working and traveling with the same group of people, they become family. Our production company put together a good group of people who are just lovely. The traveling can be tough, but everyone handles it pretty well, and they are amazing.
AJT: What has been your favorite place to visit so far?
Reich: I really loved Arizona. … There was great hiking in Tucson, and Tempe was a great city. New Orleans may hit No. 1. It’s very cool to do some traveling while working and doing the things I love to do.
AJT: Have you ever been to Atlanta?
Reich: We come to Atlanta next. I’ve actually never been, but I have a bunch of friends that migrated to Atlanta from Florida for the film scene. I’m excited to see something.
What: “Mamma Mia!”
Where: Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Midtown
When: Eight shows from Tuesday to Sunday, June 13 to 18
Tickets: $30 to $115; foxtheatre.org/mammamia