Katie Liepelt knew she wanted to play the role of Donna in the popular musical "Mamma Mia!" since she was 6.
Watching the 2008 movie version of the musical, Liepelt said, she remembered thinking, "That woman knows what she wants."
Now a 17-year-old senior at Dublin Jerome High School,
Liepelt will join other Jerome students in their production of "Mamma Mia!" debuting March 12 at the high school.
Donna Sheridan-Carmichael is the mother of Sophie in the musical and is a great role model for women, Liepelt said, because "she's able to stand her ground."
Additionally, Liepelt said, she can identify with her character wanting what's best for her daughter because she feels similarly about her younger sister, Megan, a 15-year-old freshman.
Liepelt said this is a special show for the sisters because it's the first one they are in together; Megan is a member of the production's ensemble.
Liepelt said her senior class wanted to do this show because the big ensemble offers roles for a large number of students.
"It's very inclusive of a lot of people," she said.
Fellow senior Caroline Bossa, who serves as the production stage manager, said her classmates have been waiting since they were freshmen to perform the musical.
"We've been asking and asking, so it's been fun that we've actually got to finally do it," she said.
The musical's songs are familiar, and the story is a true representation of how family often can transcend biological relationships, she said.
Zack Pytel, director of the show and choir director at Jerome, said he wasn't aware how much this year's seniors wanted to perform "Mamma Mia!"
He arrived at the school for the 2019-20 school year after teaching at Brunswick High School near Cleveland.
The show is extremely popular right now, he said, because licensing rights were released last year.
The music is accessible for vocal ranges of typical high school students, and songs are familiar to them, he said.
Many of the students also grew up with the movie.
The production is the first of freshman Meredith Walsh's high school career.
Walsh, 15, plays Sophie (Donna's daughter).
She said she loves her character's vocal range and her songs, as well as the opportunity to portray the different types of relationships she has with other cast members.
Even though this is her first show at Jerome, Walsh said, she has participated in community theater.
"This is a really cool transition for me," she said. "It's better than I could have imagined."
"Mamma Mia!" will be performed at 7 p.m. March 12-14 and 2 p.m. March 14 at Jerome High School, 8300 Hyland-Croy Road.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Go to showtix4u.com for more information.