Bob Kozar is seated on a couch on the first floor of the Youngstown Playhouse when he spies a cast picture from an old show, and he’s in it. Next to that is another cast photo from a show he did. And next to that, a third.
Yes, the retired Brookfield High School teacher has a lot of history in this place – he’s done 29 shows here – but he hadn’t acted here – or anywhere else, for that matter – in 12 years.
“Mamma Mia! The Abba Musical” brought him back.
While Lois and David Schneider of Brookfield haven’t been absent from the stage as long as Kozar, they have been away from what, for them, is a long time, about five years. “Mamma Mia!” brought them back, too.
Kozar had stepped away to concentrate on his commitment as an English and journalism teacher, which included directing 14 plays at the school.
“One of the reasons I stopped was because it was too hard getting up for work in the morning,” the Hubbard man said. “You’re here until 11 o’clock and then you’re waking up at 5:30. The whole thing of coming home from work and rushing and getting into the briefcase and getting stuff done and trying to grab a bite to eat, let alone trying to get grass cut or go shopping or whatever you have to do before rehearsal, it was getting tough.”
If Kozar is going to do a show, he’s totally committed to the show, he said.
The Schneiders, who have appeared in Trumbull New Theatre, Greenville Area Community Theatre and Sharpsville Area Community Theatre productions, had family issues to deal with.
“It’s too much of a commitment when you have other stress in life,” Lois Schneider said.
But, with Kozar retired since 2015 and the Schneiders having more free time, they decided to jump back in.
“You get keyed up for it,” said David Schneider, a fourth-grade teacher at Brookfield Elementary School. “It’s fun to be looking forward to doing a performance and working on a project.”
“Mamma Mia” takes place on a Greek Island where a 21-year old woman is about to be married and wants her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is, she doesn’t know who her father is, and she invites the three men who could be her father to the island.
Kozar plays one of the men, Lois Schneider the young woman’s mother, and David Schneider is in the chorus.
“It’s a good role for a mature person, frankly, and the music is fun,” Lois Schneider said. “It’s one of those things where you tell people you’re doing it, they light up. It’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t like this show because it’s such a feel-good (show), fun, it’s fluffy. It’s like the 1930s, when people went to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing. It was fun escapism.”
“It’s great music,” Kozar said. “I saw it in New York, and it’s a real crowd pleaser. Saw the movie and the sequel and they’re crowd pleasers. I thought, ‘Oh, that would be a fun one.’”
It’s been fun for all three, being back on stage, and the Schneiders said they plan to perform more regularly.
“Time flies when you’re doing a show,” Lois Schneider said. “Winter just, poof, it’s gone.”
Kozar is not ready to commit to more shows.
“I gotta wait and see how the memorization goes,” he said. “I don’t have a very big part in this, which is good. We’re testing the waters.”
Youngstown Playhouse, 600 Playhouse Lane, Youngstown, stages “Mamma Mia! The Abba Musical” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8; and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 8 and 9. Information and tickets are available at www.youngstownplayhouse.com or call 330-788-8739.