Grandview Heights High School is offering a perfect excuse for dusting off those leisure suits, bell-bottom pants and platform shoes.

The school's theater-arts program will present "Mamma Mia!" as its spring musical Feb. 28 through March 2.

"It's a really dance-heavy show, which is something different for us," said director April Olt. "We try to change things up to give students different play experiences during their four years."

"Mamma Mia!" features the songs of ABBA, one of the top bands of the 1970s and among the most successful pop groups of all time. The original stage show was adapted into a movie that became the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2008. A sequel followed last year.

"It's a real jukebox show," Olt said. "The plot isn't as sturdy as a lot of shows. It's just designed to take you from one song to the next one."

Those songs include classic ABBA earworms such as "Dancing Queen," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Take a Chance on Me," "SOS" and "Money, Money, Money."

"It's such a fun show," said Mary Beth Kauffman, who plays Rosie.

"You can't help but love the songs," she said. "I think the audience will be dancing and standing up in their seats."

If so, they will be echoing what the performers are doing on stage.

The catchy songs and dynamic dance numbers help make "Mamma Mia!" a high-energy show, Olt said.

"We're not used to doing a show with so much dancing, but we have such talented kids at this school, we've been able to take it in stride," Kauffman said.

"There's been a lot of reaction of 'I didn't know you could dance,' or 'I didn't know you couldn't dance,' " said Sally Hofmans-Currie, who plays Tanya.

For the cast, the chance to perform ensemble songs is the most fun, said Aria Cadeau, whose character, Donna, reunites with her old friends and singing partners, Rosie and Tanya, at her daughter's wedding.

"Interacting with each other as you perform a song is a lot more satisfying than just doing a solo piece," she said.

"Mamma Mia!" puts a spotlight on family in its story and songs, and that feeling carries over to the cast, said Aidan Young, who plays Sam, one of the three men whom Donna's daughter believes might be her father and thus invites him to the wedding.

"That always happens with our shows," he said. "Everybody comes together as a family backstage and that affects what happens onstage."

This year is the first time "Mamma Mia!" is available for schools and small groups in the central Ohio region to perform due to previous professional productions, Olt said.

"There are a number of schools in our area that are doing 'Mamma Mia!' as their musical this year," she said. "It's kind of interesting."

The show offers a mix of strong female and male characters, Olt said.

"That's sometimes a problem for high school productions, because so often you have more girls participating than guys," she said. "But this year, we have an evenly matched group -- the same number of boys as girls in the cast. It allows us to have some really good ensemble work."

Although most of the cast were not directly familiar with ABBA, as part of the preparation for the show, "we did some research and talked about the influence they have had on many of the singers and bands that came later, like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Duran Duran," Olt said. "And they were so ahead of their time, doing music videos with stories long before anyone else was doing that on MTV.

"I think that helped our students relate to the music much more, because they could see the impact they had on the culture," she said. "And they knew the songs from the movie, even if they didn't know they were by ABBA."

"Mamma Mia!" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 through March 2 in the auditorium at the high school, 1587 W. Third Ave. A matinee will be presented at 2 p.m. March 2. The daytime performance will be interpreted by Artistic Sign Language Services.

Tickets for center seats are $15; side and balcony seats cost $10. Student tickets cost $5 for the Thursday-night show or matinee only.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the "performing arts" page under the "departments" tab at ghcsd.org.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman