The Front Row Blog


5 Things That Happened at Rehearsal Last Night That Will Get You Even More Pumped for “Shrek”


Hello again, Front Row Readers!
This is your Arts Management Intern, Rosemarie and I just wanted to let you know what’s up at Encore, specifically with Shrek the Musical.
So, I had the pleasure to sit in on a dance rehearsal last night and I was ridiculously impressed. The dancing was spectacular to watch but, the energy from the cast was really the highlight of the rehearsal.

5 Things That Happened at Rehearsal Last Night That Will Get You Even More Pumped for Shrek

1) Donkey and Dragon showed everyone exactly why they were cast.
2) The knights/guards learned some new choreography that sets up a Farquad worthy entrance.
3) The Three Blind Mice came in and were not afraid to show off their moves and killer attitude.
4) The fairy tale characters “let their freak flag fly” and set the bar even higher for the rest of the cast.
5) Everyone walked away with more energy then when they walked in.


This cast is working amazingly hard to put on a show that they obviously love. Whether it’s the people, the dancing, or the show itself, there is definitely reason to get pumped for <Shrek the Musical.
Performance Showtimes and Dates:
Fridays, July 17 & 24 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, July 23 at 7:30 pm
Saturdays, July 18 & 25 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sundays, July 19 & 26 at 2 pm

Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig. Music by: Jeanine Tesori Book/Lyrics by: David Lindsey-Abaire. Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions.

In a kingdom far, far, away, a beautiful and feisty princess is locked up in her tower waiting for her one true love to rescue her. Countless attempts by handsome princes all fail this mission, however one ugly ogre and his talkative sidekick Donkey rise up to the challenge. With Princess Fiona, a gang of fairytale misfits, and the bad Lord Farquaad, Shrek becomes the unlikely hero of the kingdom in this must-see musical comedy! Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Film Shrek and William Steig’s 1990 book Shrek! Like the film, this musical contains irreverent humor and action sequences; we recommend this production for ages 8 and older.

Ticket Prices
$15 for Adults, $12 for Children, Students, Military and Seniors
Click here to purchase tickets online, or call our box office (703) 548-1154. Please e-mail for additional questions and information.

If you want more behind the scenes shenanigans check out our Tumblr: It’s launching this coming Monday, June 29th.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!


We’d like to take the time to congratulate Encore’s seniors! Thank you for being a part of Encore’s community for multiple seasons, and allowing us to take part in your theatrical journey. We wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors! Check out our senior recognition video:

Encore Seniors Recognition Class of 2015 from Encore Stage on Vimeo.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

Maddie Ashton
Thomas Boudreaux
Gabriel Brown
Jake Bucks
Andrew Burkholder
Paddy Clancy
Caroline Culberson
Sarah Fahrenkrug
Carly Greenfield
Kerry Hackes
Kristopher Heaton
Abby Huston
Perry Kaufman
Brandi Moore
Meghan Mack
Hannah Murphy
Meghan Pierce
Katelyn Sparks
Sean Willner

The Other Encore Intern! Welcome Back Olivia Hammermaster!

Hey! I’m Olivia Hammermaster and I’ll be working at Encore this summer.
(There’s a fun picture of me as Oin in The Hobbit. Fun fact: That was the show where I feel like I learned the most and really grew as an actor.)

First of all, I don’t live here anymore. I moved to Vienna, VA when I was 11, found Encore at 14, and then moved to Georgia last August. With some hardcore pleading and a very convincing number of service hours, my parents let me come back to work here for the summer.

I used to attend Marshall High School over in Falls Church before moving to Marietta, Georgia. I’m a full IB student and no, I don’t know where I’m going to college yet. I can tell you that I’m potentially looking at majoring in psychology, but I have plenty of time to figure it out and change my mind!
The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes
(I’m the one in the white sweater- I stage managed Sherlock, working alongside this lovely tech crew.)

I’ve been involved with Encore since I was in eighth grade, and I’m now a rising senior in high school. I’ve done everything from cast to crew to stage managing to working at summer camps. My favorite productions, if I really had to choose, were 12 Dancing Princesses and Honk! Jr. For 12 Dancing Princesses, I played Stumble: the comic relief. I had so much fun developing that character and running around onstage. I worked on crew for Honk! Jr. and learned ALL of the music and choreography in the process. This summer, I’m splitting my time between our Stage Door camp and the Encore office.

Encore has always been a great experience for me– so great that I drove ten hours (I was the only driver in the car!) to continue working here. I’ll be running around helping with a lot of things, so you’ll probably see me at some point.

Thank you for reading! Come see our Stage Door production, Beauty and the Beast, and Act III, Shrek!

7 Encore Students Receive Awards for Excellence and Achievement

Star Awards and Encore Crew-ton Award were presented on June 12, 2015.

After participating in at least six Encore Stage and Studio productions: two onstage, two backstage on tech crew, and two more in either capacity, six Encore Stage & Studio students joined an elect group of Star Award honorees on Friday, June 12, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Four present members received their awards from Sara Strehle Duke, the Executive Director of Encore Stage and Studio.
“The Star Award is an important milestone in the Encore experience,” said Duke. Duke continued saying “these six students should be proud of their accomplishments.”

From left to right Thomas Schindler, Erin Poplin, Colin Meek, and Maggie Keane

The Encore productions that these Star Award Winners participated in Encore production include Hansel and Gretel, Charlotte’s Web, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and many more. Malena Davis, Maggie Keane, Colin Meek, Erin Poplin, GG Richmond, and Thomas Schindler accepted their awards during the intermission of Encore’s latest production Alice in Wonderland.
Kristen Jepperson, the company’s Technical Director, presented high school senior, Thomas Boudreaux, the “Crew-ton” award for his consistent work and dedication to the technical crew at Encore for the past four years. While the other tokens were shaped like a star, Boudreaux received a gold hammer.
DSC_0088 (2)
Thomas Boudreaux (left) and Kristen Jepperson


Maggie Keane as Malady DeWinter in The Three Musketeers 2015

GG Richmond in Sleeping Beauty 2013

Thomas Schindler (left) and Colin Meek (right) in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 2014

Colin Meek in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 2015

Cinderella4 (2)
Erin Poplin in Cinderella 2015 on the far left
Malena Davis in Cinderella 2015

Photos by Larry McClemons and Aileen Pangan

Meet the Arts Management Intern: Rosemarie O’Connor



Why, hello there Front Row readers! Seeing as I will be here at Encore for the summer, it’s just polite to let you all know a little bit about me.

I am a rising senior at Marymount University in Arlington, which is fitting because I’ve lived in Arlington my whole life. I’m studying Communication with a focus in Public Relations with a business minor. I still can’t tell you exactly what I want to be when I grow-up (or graduate next year) but, a summer at Encore is a way to help me sort that out. I mean, in an ideal world I could make a living wage as an actress in New York but, I love doing public relations type stuff in class and for different organizations that I’m involved in at Marymount.

Once Upon a Mattress has been my only Encore credit thus far. Apparently that one summer production last year was enough to have me apply for this job. I do a lot of work with the theatre club at Marymount and was even the president this past school year. It is amazing to be here at Encore and see a group that has been putting on productions and so much more for almost fifty years. (Marymount Actors’ Guild just had its fourth, so far so good as far as I know.)

As far as the summer goes, I’ve already had a weekend in the box office for the second weekend of Alice in Wonderland. That was actually a lot of fun. There were times where there were tons of people who wanted to get tickets at the door and I was still new to the system, but it was a good time. Trust me. I also got to work different tables and interact with lots of the Encore patrons. I can’t wait to meet and see more of you at Shrek. The toughest part of this weekend was doing all the things that needed to get done on crutches. I’ve got this lovely boot on my right foot and it makes moving or rather, hopping or crutching around a little more complicated. DSC_0215

This summer on top of learning all that I can from the amazing Encore staff, I will be working on a few projects: helping with the Encore Tumblr, adding to the past show database, adding pictures from past seasons to the website, and helping to get some things going for the upcoming 50th season. Also, I am just looking forward to being here.

Thanks for reading and you just might be hearing again from me soon.

Curiouser and Curiouser–Find out our 2015/2016 Season at Encore’s Alice in Wonderland!



This year, we added our new Bard in the Box program presenting Much Ado About Nothing, giving a chance for our students to perform Shakespeare in the black box theatre at Theatre On The Run. In addition, we had our world-premiere of our original Encore script of The Three Musketeers by Matthew Heap.

Larry McClemons5

Just as Alice experiences many surprises in her journey through Wonderland, Encore has many surprises in store for the upcoming 2015/2016 year!

Will there be more Shakespeare? Will there be more shows and more locations? All the more reason to come find out this weekend as we unveil our 2015/2016 season! Our 2015/2016 Season subscriptions will be available for purchase in the lobby. See you there!

Photos by Larry McClemons

Top 5 Reasons to Audition for Shrek The Musical!

      We can’t wait to present Shrek The Musical this summer! Tonight is the last chance to audition and take part in this musical comedy. Rising 10th graders and older, college students and adults are welcome to audition for this production.


      Directed by Susan A. Keady and Stage managed by Rebecca Pfeil. Technical directed by Kristen Jepperson.

      Tonight, Wednesday, May 27 | 7-9 pm
      Located at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre (125 S. Old Glebe Road Arlington, VA 22204)

      Our staff has compiled our Top 5 reasons to audition for Encore’s Shrek The Musical:

      1. All of your favorite fairytale characters are brought to life in one place! The Gingerbread Man, the 3 Little Pigs, Pinocchio, the Sugarplum Fairy and more. The fairytale characters from your childhood are back with a new attitude, and with a reason to “believe!” Band with the rest of the beloved and never-forgotten characters and join us in “what makes us special makes us strong!”

      2. Why not spend your summer with Encore? “The summer I spent working on [an Encore musical], made it clear to me that I am the happiest when I am working on a show and growing as an artist.” -Encore Participant

      3. When else is a boy going to belt out a riff from Wicked?

      4. The variety of music styles in this show is more than awesome, it’s spectacular! From Mo-Town to rock, to power ballads, this show holds a wide range of music, there’s truly something for everyone (onstage and in the audience) to enjoy!

      And last but not least…..
      5. Just like Donkey riffs, “We need you We need you We need you We need you We need you!” donkey

      Click here to download a cast audition form.
      Click here to download a crew audition form.
      Visit our auditions page to learn more.

      Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig. Music by: Jeanine Tesori Book/Lyrics by: David Lindsey-Abaire. Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions.

      In a kingdom far, far, away, a beautiful and feisty princess is locked up in her tower waiting for her one true love to rescue her. Countless attempts by handsome princes all fail this mission, however one ugly ogre and his talkative sidekick Donkey rise up to the challenge. With Princess Fiona, a gang of fairytale misfits, and the bad Lord Farquaad, Shrek becomes the unlikely hero of the kingdom in this must-see musical comedy! Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Film Shrek and William Steig’s 1990 book Shrek! Like the film, this musical contains irreverent humor and action sequences; we recommend this production for ages 8 and older.

      Come ready to sing and dance. See you at auditions!


      Meme credit: Youtube video from MusicalesyOpera.

Meet Alice in Wonderland Director, Chuck Leonard


      Happy Friday! Before we head off into holiday weekend mode, we can’t help but get excited about presenting the land of Wonder in just a few weeks! When curious Alice falls down, down, down the rabbit hole, she discovers the magical world of Wonderland where cats can talk and cards play croquet. But, Alice is sure to miss her tea if she can’t convince the Queen of Hearts to let her go! With the help of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and a whole cast of wacky companions, Alice must unleash the full power of her imagination to find her way home. Join us for Encore’s theatrical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Alice in Wonderland, and discover all there is to wonder about.


      We are excited to announce Chuck Leonard as director for this production. Leonard currently teaches for the Honors College at George Mason University. Leonard has served as the Director of Theatre for Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Director of Education for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Maryland, and has directed several musicals for the Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks. Joining Leonard on the production team are, Kristen Jepperson (Set Designer and Technical Director), Debra Leonard (Costume Designer and Make-up Designer), Marji Jepperson (Props and Set Dressing), Gary Hauptman (Lighting Designer), and Matthew Heap (Composer/Sound Designer). Here to talk about Alice in Wonderland is our Director, Chuck Leonard.

      Encore: First off, welcome back to Encore! Your last show with us was The Magical Lamp of Aladdin. The stories of Aladdin and Alice both bring magic and adventure, can you describe any similarities/differences in your experiences with the two productions.



      Encore Stage & Studio's production "The Magical Lamp of Aladdin" in 2012

      Chuck: Thank you for the welcome. It is wonderful being back with Encore. Aladdin was a terrific show to direct, but the biggest difference was that it was presented at Kenmore Middle School, because the county was fixing damage at Thomas Jefferson after the earthquake. So we were on a stage in a building we were unfamiliar with. Fortunately for me, we had a team of designers and producers who bent over backwards to make it work and Aladdin topped attendance records with its performances. I am delighted to tell you that some of the same team members are onboard again for Alice.


      Encore: This year marks the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland! What scenes/characters in this story are you excited to direct or see come alive?

      Chuck: There is a brief moment I have designed for the top of the show when Alice first spies the White Rabbit that I hope helps set up the story. I am very much looking forward to trying it out onstage to make it as strong as possible. There are also a number of scenes that will rely on excellent timing from the stage crew, and that will be a cool challenge.


      Encore: What do you enjoy most about directing children’s theatre?

      Chuck: When one of the actors is working on a scene and I hear them gasp as they realize how they might play their character. Those “Aha!” moments, when the light bulb turns on are so wonderful for me. It means the creative juices are flowing and that child is taking ownership of the part.

      Encore: What can the audience expect/look forward to when they come to the show?

      Chuck: If the audience members are familiar with the wonderful stories by Lewis Carroll, they will see some of their favorite scenes and characters. For instance, Alice meets and has adventures with the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Mock Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat, to name but a few.




      “For 150 years, this show has been bringing joy to audiences as it transports them to Wonderland. A child’s sense of wonder is a fantastic gift and adults need to be reminded sometimes how important and joyous that moment of jaw-dropping discovery can be.” -Chuck Leonard

      Thank you Chuck for sharing! Buy your tickets today for Alice in Wonderland playing June 5-14 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre.

      alicecomingsoondesignonlyPerformance dates and showtimes:
      Fridays, June 5 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.
      Saturdays, June 6 and 13 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
      Sundays, June 7 and 14 at 3 p.m.

      Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online or by calling our box office (703) 548-1154. Adults $12; Children, Students, Military and Seniors $10. Group discounts and birthday party packages are available.

      In addition to the show, we’re delighted to host a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on Sunday, June 14 at 2 p.m. This special event features tea and treats, fun activities, and a chance to meet your favorite Wonderland characters! Tickets for Mad Hatter’s Tea Party are $30 which includes admission for one to both the tea party and the 3 p.m. performance of Alice in Wonderland.

      mad hatterslide

      Encore is delighted to provide an accessibility matinee performance on Saturday, June 13 at 3 p.m. This matinee performance will provide accommodations for children and families with special needs. Accommodations include ASL interpretation and assisted listening devices as well as Braille and large print programs to allow the performance to be accessible to all audiences. An exclusive backstage tour will be provided for children to make meaningful connections with the story and to experience theatre in a new way. Interested patrons needing these accommodations must e-mail in advance.

      We wish you a fun Memorial day weekend and we’ll see you at the theatre!

Encore’s 2015 Benefit Breakfast: Largest Attendance Yet

      It was a sunny and vibrant day for Encore Stage & Studio on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, as our organization celebrated 48 years of “Theatre by Kids, Theatre for Kids” at our fifth annual Sunny Side Benefit Breakfast. The breakfast was held at the Washington Golf and Country Club in Arlington, VA. Over 135 guests attended the benefit breakfast, our largest and well-attended breakfast event to date. Among the guests this year included Virginia Senator Barbara Favola, Outreach Representative from the offices of Senator Mark Warner Anh Phan, and Arlington Arts Commissioner Wanda Baez.



      “It’s a great way to start off your day by showing support for outstanding children’s theatre!” stated Executive Director Sara Duke.

      Malena Davis, Zoe Rocchio, and Maggie Keane

      We kicked off the breakfast with a guest appearance of the White Rabbit (Maggie Keane), announcing the start of the breakfast program. Ashby Rushing, a member of Encore’s Board of Directors, introduced our participant speakers, Carla Astudillo, Thomas Boudreaux, and Paddy Clancy. Carla Astudillo shared “Encore’s greatest asset, in my opinion, is the way that they genuinely and organically see something special in every single person who walks through their doors. They find what makes each student sparkle, and do everything they can to continue the growth of this spark.”



      Performances included a musical number from Encore’s “Cinderella” with Malena Davis and Zoe Rocchio, a short scene from “Much Ado About Nothing” with Caleb Dunham, Kennedy Cawley, Henry Hubbard and Annie Wood.

      Malena Davis and Zoe Rocchio

      Annie Wood, Kennedy Cawley, and Henry Hubbard

      Board President, Jerry Gidner shared his Encore journey and highlighted Encore’s recently published strategic plan to chart the next five years for Encore’s success and growth. Last year, Encore touched the lives of over 14,500 children and their families, including the organization’s record-breaking attendance of 4,432 patrons at “The Little Mermaid” in January 2014. This year, Encore Stage & Studio continues to grow its programs with additional educational and production opportunities such as a new Shakespeare production and expanding their spring break and summer camp programs. Encore Stage & Studio honored Laury Sendek as the 2015 Celeste Groves Award recipient for outstanding volunteer.



      Lastly, Encore participants (Adelina Hartley, Taryn Green, Grace Koppelman and Xander Tilock) shared the Top 10 Reasons to Donate to Encore:

      Number 10: Encore is growing to serve more kids! We added a sixth production this year, Bard in the Box, which you saw a scene from earlier today. 8,715 kids and their families have seen an Encore production so far this season – that’s a lot of concessions during intermission! We plan to add a seventh show next season. Your donation will allow more kids to participate!

      Number 9: We’ve added new education programs and expanded existing ones to engage more kids! Just three years ago our mini-camp program started with 19 students it’s now grown to over 500 students this season. We’ve also added a session to our Stage Door summer conservatory program – and it’s sold out! This would not be possible without donors like you!

      Number 8: Students engaged in theater score high on tests The CollegeBoard reports that students who have been part of a play or musical score, on average, 91 points higher than the overall mean SAT score.

      Number 7: Encore’s productions are accessible to kids of all abilities! Since last spring, we have been hosting accessibility matinees that include sign language interpretation, braille programs, and a special sensory-friendly backstage tour. We’ve been working closely with Arlington’s special education department to make this happen. Three students with low-vision even participated in camp last summer!

      Number 6: Encore gives back to the community. Encore has donated over 750 tickets to non-profits and schools this year alone. We are on track to give out more than $12,000 in scholarships and we have great partnerships with the Nauck Community Services Center and many other great organizations.

      Number 5: Creativity is a career skill. Did you know that 72% of business leaders say creativity is the number one skill they seek when hiring?

      Number 4: Production quality. We’re constantly updating our productions with new equipment and technology – remember the great special effects you’ve seen this year? Or the impressive stage combat? We have an awesome production team that works with kids backstage on technical theatre. Encore wants students to have the most professional and exciting experience as possible!

      Number 3: Participating in live theatre has critically important benefits for young people. Students have learned teamwork, leadership, creativity, literacy, and problem-solving skills, as well as self-confidence through our programs. Encore provides a stage where students like me can use our creativity to discover our potential.

      Number 2: Encore has been an important member of the arts community since 1967. We are preparing to celebrate our 50th anniversary – that’s fifty years of “theatre by kids, for kids!”

      All together our participants shared the number one reason to give to Encore…

      Grace: “Because when I win a Tony award…”
      Adelina: “Because when I win an Oscar…”
      Xander: “Because when I win a Grammy…”
      Taryn: “Because when I win the Nobel Prize…”

      “You’ll want me to remember you in my acceptance speech, right?” Seriously, your donation today will make a world of difference to our organization.

      Click here to make your donation today. Your support for Encore students helps us to achieve our dreams, both on and off stage.



      Click here to check out our breakfast featured on the Arlington Sun Gazette.

      Thank you to our speakers, performers, volunteers and guests for making this event a success! Thank you to our Board of Directors and staff for your dedication and hard work!

      Encore Stage & Studio’s staff:


      Photos by Larry McClemons and Aileen Pangan.