The wildly popular musical opens Thursday

Ocala Civic Theatre wraps its current season Thursday night with a rock romp into unknown ancestry on a tiny Greek island.

One of Broadway’s most-popular musicals — it boasts the ninth-longest run — “Mamma Mia!” is scheduled for 28 performances at the OCT through June 17.

“We’re very excited,” said Executive Director Mary Britt. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get the rights to it. It’s a real feel-good show.”

The show is a “jukebox musical” filled with ABBA songs. The rights opened to community theaters just last year. Before its Broadway closing in 2015, “Mamma Mia!” racked up 5,758 performances and five Tony Award nominations.

ABBA is the pre-disco glitter Swedish quartet who flooded the 1970s and ‘80s airwaves with more than 100 songs. These included a handful of Top 10 hits, most with upbeat melodies, tight harmonies and unforgettable lyrics.

Just try walking away not humming “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo” or “Mamma Mia!”

And wouldn’t you know, the sequel to the 2008 Golden Globe-nominated film starring Meryl Streep — “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” — premieres in July on the 10th anniversary of the first film.

“That scheduling just happened,” Britt said. “We’re hoping 10,000 see this show; it would be our fourth to hit that mark.”

Instead of a typical orchestra, Music Director Philip King is employing multiple keyboards, electric guitars and drums.

“That’s the ABBA style,” he said. “This is not your traditional, old-fashioned musical.”

This is his second go-round with “Mamma Mia!” He was music director when Theatre Winter Haven performed it in January.

“This is high-energy music,” he added.

A jukebox musical is a vehicle comprised of all previously released songs.

Singing along is neither encouraged nor discouraged. “Just be sure it’s OK with the people sitting around you,” Britt said.

The story: Young Sophie Sheridan is getting married and wants her father to walk her down the aisle.

She has no idea who he is, but suspects he’s one of three men her mother, um, “dot, dot, dot” about the time she was conceived. She found the names in her mother’s diary from those days.

She invites all three, sure she’ll just know when he shows up. But when all three arrive — stirring her mother’s long-forgotten memories — Sophie still has no idea.

Sophie’s “a bit of a mess,” said Shannon Guinn, the effervescent teen playing Sophie. “Her hair’s always on fire about something.

“She’s out there with a purpose. She wants the fantasy wedding, what she’s seen in the movies, the fairy tale. She finds out things aren’t always perfect. Things don’t always turn out the way you’ve planned them. Sometimes they’re better.”

Guinn said she grew up listening to ABBA in the back of her "sister’s car going to the beach. This is sort of a dream come true for me.”

OCT regular Gina England heads an ensemble of 25 players as Sophie’s mother, Donna.

“I grew up listening to ABBA. My brother used to play it all the time,” she said, adding she set her sights on the role as soon as she heard it was OCT's schedule.

It’s a meaty 40-something role; Donna is “all into the empowerment of women,” England said, raising Sophie on her own while running a charming-if-aging inn on remote Kalokairi.

“She never worried for a moment that she didn’t have a man. She found a way to make it happen, every day.”

Yet, it’s all for fun. “I can see groups of friends coming to hang out,” England added. “If they don’t leave with a smile on their faces, we’ve done something very wrong.”

Director Katrina Ploof agreed.

“This has been the first year it’s been out in the real world,” she said.

“All the great poets from the Greeks to the present have said love is the paradise of the young. The older we get we know how crazy that is. And what I love about this play is everybody’s hair is on fire about love. That’s so rich and true.

“I love telling a story this way,” she continued.

Tensions in the nation right now are such that we could use some levity, Ploof said.

“You’ll laugh and sing and dance,” she added. “You’ll take the ride and have a little vacation from all the stress and negative energy out there.”

NOT-A-SPOILER ALERT: Don’t leave before or during the curtain calls; there’s another 10 minutes of music to follow — just like in the movie. “It’ll be worth it,” Ploof said. “That’s where we want you to sing along.”