July 27, 2014
Today is your last chance to Encore’s summer production of “Once Upon A Mattress” (our last performance starts at 2pm today at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre)…which means it’s also your last chance to see Padraig Clancy (also known as Paddie) in his debut performance as the loveable Minstrel. Here’s some information about Paddie (or so he says):
Padraig Clancy was abandoned in the Russian wilderness as a child, where he was taken in by a pack of wolves. At age eight he was discovered by a Serbian farmer and raised by their family for a year before being sent to America for schooling. In America, he graduated from Stanford summa cum laude with a S.J.D in law, a Ph.D. in astrophysics, and a bachelors degree in the culinary arts at age 13. Eventually he became bored with these fields of study and turned to theatre tech.
After receiving this biography from Paddie himself, we were very intrigued. So we sat down with Paddie to get a little more intel on his true life both at Encore and offstage, as well as the character he plays in Once Upon A Mattress:
Encore: What school do you attend, grade (and any other truths about you)?
Paddie: I attend Trinity School at Meadowview and I am a senior
E: How long have you been involved with Encore Stage & Studio?
P: I’ve done every show at Encore since Pirates of Penzance 3 years ago
E: This is your first debut on Encore’s stage! Working on crew for so long, did you ever think you’d want to be onstage? What made you decide to audition for cast rather than crew?
P: Although I’ve been prodded in the direction of the stage for a couple years now, I never thought i would actually do it. My debut on cast came about by accident really. My dad heard that they were short a few tenors on the cast and told me about it ( he actually had no idea that I was a tenor at that time). I mentioned to Susan Keady that i was a tenor and the next thing I knew I was at the first rehearsal.
E: What’s your favorite moment so far with Encore, any fun stories to share?
P: It’s really difficult to say what my favorite moment at Encore has been because there have been many memorable ones. The ones that come to my mind first are the mistakes that have been made and then the “disaster management” (for lack of a better word) to keep the audience from noticing that anything has gone wrong. One of my favorite examples of this was during Pirates of Penzance. For the set we had built a massive false proscenium across the entire stage that was 16 feet high and 40 or so feet across. During a couple scenes there was a boat that was supposed to spear at the dock in the arch of the proscenium. One performance the castors on the bottom of the boat skidded and the boat went straight into the braces for the proscenium. We spent all of intermission running around fixing it. In the end, intermission was not delayed and the audience had no idea what had happened. Despite all of these “disaster” moments, there are really fun moments that have nothing to do with things breaking. Opening night was full of unbelievable fun as a cast member and when you reach the climax of the play, the energy you get from the audience is fantastic.
E: What other interests do you have outside the theatre?
P: Outside of theater I don’t do a whole lot. I go to school and participate in two varsity sports, soccer and lacrosse.
E: Can you describe the character of the Minstrel in this show?
P: The Minstrel is an interesting character in Once Upon a Mattress. Although he opens the show by breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, he is never given a name and I never really read him as instrumental (no pun intended) to the plot, nor does his character develop over the course of the show. To create the character, I drew from my most recent experience of playing Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as watching my counterpart Sarah Conrad as the Jester to determine small character traits that the Minstrel and the Jester might have in common.
E: What’s your favorite scene in the show?
P: My favorite scene in the show….. That’s a tough question. I would answer probably any scene with Sean Hackes as the King. Every show he does something different and I have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud on stage, especially in the last scene when he finally talks. Every night he uses a different voice and I always laugh.
E: Any advice for students interested in tech?
P: If I were to give advice to anyone interested in tech, I would simply say try it, and even if you don’t get on the crew the first time you try out, try out again. When the Technical Director sees people who have tried out before, she knows that they really want to be on the crew and they usually turn out to be some of the best techies.
To see more of Paddie, and the whole cast of “Once Upon A Mattress”, come see the show! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!
July 17, 2014
For my first interview as an Encore staff member, I chose to talk to an old friend (we’ve gone to school together from the time we were in kindergarten), who is currently a member of the Once Upon A Mattress cast. Lowry Palmer is a rising sophomore at the College of William & Mary, and a seven-time Encore alum. Five of the seven Encore shows she’s been involved with were summer productions, so she’s no stranger to a good musical. She’s also pretty familiar with princesses and peas after playing the Queen in Encore’s spring production of Princess and the Pea in 2010. Lowry has also worked at all of the Encore camps. Just before she headed off to the first tech week rehearsal of Once Upon A Mattress, we sat down to talk about the production, which opens this Friday, and what makes an Encore summer so special.
Maddie: You’re currently part of the cast of Once Upon A Mattress. Can you tell us a little about the production (without giving any spoilers) and your role in the show?
Lowry: I think the show is really cute. It has a little something for everyone. It’s one of those shows that parents can watch with their kids and go, “That was so funny,” but it also has that princess aspect that kids love. There’s nothing like a princess show, I think—the way that kids react, and they dress up and do they whole thing. [It’s a princess show] with a little bit of a twist. It’s not your normal princess story, because we did this story a couple years ago. I was actually part of that cast, too.
M: Oh, yes! I remember seeing you in Princess and the Pea. That’s so funny.
L: [Once Upon a Mattress] is a fairytale with a little bit more of a modern and exciting twist. I think it’s going to be fun! During the show, I’m part of the ensemble for a lot of it—one of the ladies in waiting—and I get to do a ballet part, which is interesting. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that. I’m also dance captain with Sarah Conrad this year, which I really enjoy doing.
M: Right, you were a dancer for many years. I still consider you a dancer, but you’re not taking dance classes or doing recitals or anything anymore. What is your dance background like?
L: I started dancing in first grade, with a company that was loosely called Youth Dancers of Arlington. It was a small company run by one lady, and kind of one of her friends. Her name is Judy Calogero. I did that for eleven years, and then she moved away. I was also doing jazz with Susan Brock. So, small, little things—we would just do a performance at the end of the year. And that actually taught me how to dance. I had no natural ability, at all. Not even a little bit. No rhythm, no flexibility, so that set the foundation.
M: And now you’re dancing in Once Upon A Mattress! How did you transition from dance to theatre, or how have your theatre and dance experiences come together?
L: When it came time to audition for my first show at Encore, I remember I was coming home from a dance class with a friend and she said, “Oh, I’m auditioning for this,” and I said, “I want to do that, too!” Dance came in handy when auditioning because I didn’t realize that not everyone has that dance background. It was really cool to be able to pull that out. I’ve taken that a step further because most of the shows I’ve done through Encore are that princess-y kind of fairytale show. I’ve been doing a lot of research online, watching Disney movies, and watching the princesses in Disney parks, and applying my dance background to learning how they move. I think that’s helped a lot with shows like [Once Upon A Mattress]. It also helps, just in general, with picking up the dances fast, and I think that’s part of the reason I’m dance captain for this show. I’ve learned every dance so I can teach them to people when they are missing, or I step in when we have an injury [like we just did this summer]. So I’m going to be stepping in and performing a part that I originally was not, but it should work out well.
M: Once Upon a Mattress is a musical. Do you have a preference, between plays and musicals? What makes one more enjoyable than the other?
L: I think both are great, and they both bring different things to the table, so they are equal on levels of fun, etc. But I love a musical. I love the cheese, I like how all of a sudden everyone breaks out into song and dance. Actually, this year at school I joined show choir because it’s basically just that moment of “We better sing a song and dance to it right now,” over and over again. I think there’s something really special about that, and something captivating about it. But you need a play on both sides because otherwise you don’t have a good story to follow.
M: I like that. You’ve done a ton of musicals with Encore, but what makes Once Upon A Mattress different from other shows you’ve been in? What’s your favorite part about it?
L: Something I think is really different about this show, and made it really different to work on this summer, is that it’s a show filled with a lot of physical comedy. A little bit of that has happened in past summers, but this summer it’s really hit on the head. There’s a lot of pantomime, a lot of falling and all that kind of stuff, and crazy, almost-stage combat (but in a funny way). I think that really sets this [show] apart. Plus, there’s a double meaning to everything, which is always fun. There’s something for all different age groups. I think that’s really cool.
[Pause for technical difficulties]
L: Welcome back!
M: Yes, welcome again to this interview with Lowry Palmer! So, double meanings?
L: Yeah, I actually asked my younger sister Faith to make of note of the jokes she picked up on that the kids around her didn’t when she comes to see the show.
M: This show does a really good job of hiding a lot of adult humor.
L: Oh, yeah, watch the King for that especially.
M: Once Upon A Mattress is the summer production for Encore’s 2013/2014 season, but Encore does shows during all four calendar seasons of the year. I know you have been a part of shows at other times of the year, so what makes the summer productions unique?
L: It’s really cool to work with an older crowd, because during the year there’s an 18-age limit. I think there’s a lot of mentorship that goes on during the regular season productions, where you have older kids and younger kids collaborating. I think that’s taken a step further [in the summer] because you have people who are, for example, our parents’ age and you learn to work with people of all ages. I always like the adults in productions. I feel like I learn a lot from them. We’ve had equity actors before, which is really cool to see. [The production team] really treats us like adults [during the summer], and they made a big point of that this summer, especially of being like “We’re going to treat you guys like pre-professionals, and not just like most of you are under 18.” I think that makes a big different, and really adds to the experience.
M: You have been involved in summer productions at Encore since you were old enough to audition, right?
M: So, that was when you were 15?
L: Yep, 15.
M: What first prompted you to audition for a summer show versus a regular season show?
L: Actually, it’s funny. The summer before I auditioned the show was Beauty and the Beast, and I wanted to be in Beauty and the Beast so badly. I loved that show, I loved seeing it. That was summer I couldn’t drive, and I actually did an Encore camp (I was a camper before I was in shows). When the camp ended, I had nothing to do. I was so bummed, I wanted to be doing anything. Then, when it came time to actually be able to audition for a [summer] show, I thought I’d love to be doing something like this, something I really love. It was a straight-forward musical, and I’d only been doing musicals up to that point—I’d always made sure to pick those ones out—so it just worked out well. I just had lots of fun. That was Anything Goes. I was the baby of that cast—the youngest person—which was very strange looking back now.
M: You worked with Sarah Conrad [who plays the Jester in Once Upon A Mattress] in that show right?
L: Yeah, that’s where I met Sarah Conrad.
M: How was working with Sarah? And what’s it like working with her again for Once Upon A Mattress?
L: I’ve worked with Sarah every summer I’ve done Encore shows. We’re tight, and she’s been doing them longer than I have. I always have to think about it because I always think that she’s my age, and she’s actually a real adult—older than me. She’s great to work with, I love her. She works really hard, and we both have a strong dance background so it’s nice to work with somebody when you have that same kind of train of thought. Right now, doing the dance captain thing, we kind of split it where I’ve learned all the dances and she watches all the dances, and then when we stage it, she’s going to be spacing everything and I’ll be watching it. So we have a nice little team going. She’s just the hardest worker. I remember during Wizard of Oz, between shows she had an allergic reaction and we were all like, “Oh, no, don’t go on. We’ll figure something out,” and she said, “It’s okay, you guys.” She was sick, but she went on and it was phenomenal. So much respect.
M: What advice would you give to other actors auditioning for a summer production at Encore for the first time? Is there anything in particular you wish someone had your 15-year-old self before you auditioned?
L: One thing: Just go for it! Really put everything into that audition because you can’t regret it if you put in everything. I remember, for my first audition, I came in wearing jean shorts and flip flops—which your not supposed to do. Don’t do that. I didn’t know what to expect. I walked in and they said we were going to dance, and I thought, now you’re going to have to do something special. They asked us to improv the last part of the dance routine and I told myself, “You better improv your face off right now.” I worked really hard on that and I think something like that helps, when you put everything into it. You never know how it’s going to end up. And always just be yourself. Everyone at Encore is really nice and really chill about the way they audition, so as long as you go for it, put everything into it, and show them what you can do, it normally goes well and it’s well perceived.
To see more from Lowry Palmer, and the whole Once Upon A Mattress cast, be sure to come see our show! Once Upon A Mattress opens Friday, July 18 at 8pm at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. You can buy tickets on our website or by calling our box office at (703) 548-1154.
July 9, 2014
There were lots of laughs to be had today when some pretty hilarious characters took over Encore’s summer programs.
This morning, Matthew Pauli of Faction of Fools Theatre Company (company in residence at Galludet University in Washington, DC) taught a workshop for Scenes for Tweens about the “art” in Commedia dell’Arte. For those of you who aren’t familiar Italian Renaissance theatre (as our campers now are), Commedia dell’Arte is a style of improvised comedy theatre that employs a set of classic character types (and their unique physicality). Commedia is often associated with the expressive masks (pictured below, on Paul) worn by the actors to partly distinguish their characters. The other important element of Commedia characters is their physicality. Just as each character has his or her own personality, they each have their own way of standing, moving, and resting. With the help of Faction of Fools, Scenes of Tweens learned how to move like a Zanni (the servant), a Pantalone (the miser), a Doctore (the intellectual), a Capitano (the soldier), and a lover.
Fun Fact about Commedia: The Commedia troupes in 16th century Italy were the first theatre groups to allow women on the stage (at this point in history, young boys were still playing the famous heroines in other parts of Europe. That’s right—a boy played Juliet!).
While Scenes for Tweens was transported to Italy, the campers at It’s Elementary were learning a little French with some classy clowns from Happenstance Theater. Happenstance Artistic Directors Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell graced the Taylor Elementary School as the clown duo Pinot & Augustine. The show included impressive mime work, reminiscent of Jaster’s famous teacher Marcel Marceau, and a musical hacksaw performance.
Another amazing day at Encore Stage & Studio is at an end, but if you want to get in on the summer fun, be sure to check out Stage Door and Tech Camp’s upcoming performance of Peter Pan Jr! (Thursday, July 10 at 7:30 pm and Friday, July 11 at 2 pm)
- June 27
Now that I’ve finished my first two weeks as Encore’s Marketing (or Community Engagement) Intern for Summer 2014, I thought it was about time that I introduced myself to the blogosphere.
A little about me…
I am a rising sophomore at Barnard College in New York City, fulfilling my ultimate destiny of living in the Big Apple (and right on Broadway, no less). Even though I spend most of my year out of town, I am a native Arlingtonian, and a Yorktown High School alum. I am also an Encore alum!
Once upon a time (i.e. 5 years ago), I was cast in Encore’s production of Snow White. Since then, I’ve been on the cast or crew for five Encore productions. I’ve missed Encore so much, and I’m ecstatic about being back!
At Barnard, I am an English Major, with a specialization in Theatre and Creative Writing. My love of theatre and the community it fosters led me to seek out opportunities to get involved in theatre groups at school, where I am a stage manager with King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe at Columbia University. Although I have been in my fair share of productions as a performer, my most cherished aspirations with regard to theatre are more focused behind the scenes. I love being a stage manager, and I hope to direct productions someday soon, but my real dream is to be a playwright. I may never would have come to that realization had Encore not been a part of my life. If anyone is wondering why I’m working at Encore this summer, I hope that answers your question…
…at least in part. I’ve also been looking forward to this opportunity to come back to Encore as way to explore my interest in arts education (especially theatre programs). I think that youth arts programs are the most important part of any kid’s journey to adulthood. Whether those programs will lead them on a path towards a career in the arts, or just provide a vital outlet in the present, exposure to the arts can change a child’s life. The arts programs I participated in during my childhood, which include Encore, definitely changed mine.
What I’m Working On…
-Did you know encore will be coming up on it’s 48th season this fall? No? Well, part of my job is to connect with those 48 seasons of alumni, and rekindle their love of all things Encore…just in time for Encore to hit 50!
-Writing letters to local businesses who can advertise in our 2014/2015 Season playbills
-Visiting our amazing summer camps and Once Upon a Mattress rehearsals (you can see some of the pictures I’ve been taking here. Keep an eye out for more in future social media posts)
-Bonding with the other interns while tie-dying our super awesome Encore Staff t-shirts
-Managing Encore’s social media presence (the blog, our many Facebook pages, etc)
-Attending meetings and seminars such as “On Ardent Public Support” for Nonprofit Marketing Strategy
(Our Executive Director teaching improv at Stage Door)
What I’m Looking Forward to This Summer…
-ONCE UPON A MATTRESS!
-Seeing all of your beautiful faces at the Arlington County Fair in a few weeks
-All the amazing activities going on at our many summer camps
-Writing more blog posts ☺
(I took some pretty funky photos at Once Upon A Mattress rehearsal)
Well, that’s all folks! I hope your summer is off to an awesome start. I know mine is! And I’m looking forward to great things to come, so look for more posts from me soon!
Thanks for reading!
- June 6, 2014
Graduation season is here! We’re very proud of our Encore seniors and all their hard work onstage, offstage, in the classroom and beyond! Best wishes on your future endeavors! Encore will always be cheering you on!
William Westray IV
We were very fortunate to sit down and hear from a few of our seniors on their Encore adventure.
Encore: What productions and programs have you been involved with Encore?
Olivia: I have done at least 13 shows with Encore (both on tech and in cast) along with attending Stage Door, and working at the summer camps, It’s Elementary and Teens and Tweens, for a couple of summers.
Hugh: I started with Robin Hood, when I was a sophomore, and that was the first play I ever did. I played the Sheriff of Nottingham and I had a blast, so I really wanted to do another one after it ended. After that I would do The Magical Lamp of Aladdin and then do crew for Charlotte’s Web, and I had a ton of fun being involved with those. During the summer I was a pirate in Pirates of Penzance and I got a lot out of working with adults and doing a musical (or, in this case, an operetta) for the first time. After that I did The Hobbit and Sleeping Beauty. Most recently I portrayed Grimsby in The Little Mermaid Jr.
Sean: I was in Pocahontas, Little Mermaid, Dracula, The Best Haunted House Ever, Princess and the Pea (tech) and Brother’s Grimm Out of Order (tech).
I also performed in the summer shows including Pirates of Penzance and Wizard of Oz
Encore: What is your proudest moment while participating at Encore?
Olivia: I have done at least 13 shows with Encore (both on tech and in cast) along with attending Stage Door, and working at the summer camps, It’s Elementary and Teens and Tweens, for a couple of summers. My proudest moment would probably be getting my STAR award back in 8th grade! I was actually in The Velveteen Rabbit, which was the show they were handing the awards out at that year, and I was the Toy Fairy. I wore this huge wedding dress and I decided to wear it to accept the award before the show started because I didn’t want to change out of some fancy outfit into my costume after I received my award. My costume was, like I said, a huge wedding dress that had 27 buttons and no zipper to be seen. I remember walking up onstage when they called my name and everyone just kind of let out a confused gasp and thought that I had just worn the wedding dress to accept just because. It probably took them awhile before they realized I was in my costume for the show! It turned into a funny story along with my proudest moment here… whoops!
Hugh: I remember getting recognized when I did Robin Hood. During its opening weekend, I went to a restaurant and a guy there gave me a fist bump and was like “I saw you! I took my kid! Great job!” It was stupendous. I got recognized a lot when I did The Magical Lamp of Aladdin that year as well. I played Jammal (basically Jafar), who was this evil magician, and it was a very big part. I was really nervous about it. I guess something about that performance was very memorable, because for months afterward a lot of people recognized me as “the dude from Aladdin.” On more than one occasion I’d be going somewhere, and see a kid with their parent, and they’d point and go “I saw you in Aladdin.” That was pretty cool.
Sean: My proudest moment at Encore was when I was in Dracula. All hope seemed lost, but then I broke free of the vampires and stabbed Dracula in the heart with a stake. I really felt like the hero and it felt nice to be the one to finish off the villain.
Encore: What skills or lessons do you find most helpful from your experience at Encore?
Olivia: I honed a lot of basic theatre skills which I guess is fairly important when it comes to collaborating in a show. I developed my ability to cheat out, to project, and to listen to the tech crew and respect them because they have the show in their hands and are very vital to keeping the show from crashing down around the actors. I also learned a lot about collaboration and being there for others. I learned the importance of showing up because it’s a real hassle when you’re not there at rehearsal to practice your part. Everyone else has to adjust to you not being there. I learned that always being friendly gets you a lot more places than closing yourself off. This is all going to help me when I want to find a job because I know how to collaborate and be respectful and to be responsible.
Sean: One of the biggest lessons I learned was that even when you are not the focus of the scene or are just a character in the background, you need to keep acting. It is important to stay in the scene, and remaining your character even when someone else is the main focus is what brings the world to life and creates the illusion of acting.
Encore: What do you think makes Encore Stage & Studio unique?
Olivia: What makes Encore unique is that the shows are basically almost all run by kids. The Stage Manager is a high school student and they are calling the cues and tell the crew what to do during the show. They run the whole thing. There are really awesome adults who help here and there but it’s the kids show. The kids feel like it’s their’s to perform and their’s to execute. You definitely learn a real sense of responsibility for the show and for others.
Hugh: Encore is a really fun environment. I really like that because it helps you learn to be professional as an actor, but of course have fun with it at the same time. Shows can become stressful if people are too uptight, and at Encore everyone I have worked with has been really laid back and easygoing. It’s a great way to make friends and has been very welcoming from the start.
Sean: Encore is unique in that kids from all ages and experience levels can come together to put on a show. People who have never acted before can learn from the ones who have done multiple shows, and the more experienced kids can teach the new generation.
Encore: How has Encore impacted your life beyond the stage?
Olivia: Encore has helped me be a much friendlier person and to put myself out there. I mean I’m a pretty friendly person in general but Encore definitely helped me become even more. Encore was a place where I found so many new friends and I’ve kept contact with a lot of them. Susan and Sara became references for jobs and wrote recommendations for me that helped me get important jobs and get into other things. And there is so much other stuff that I probably don’t even realize that Encore has done for me. Encore has just made such a large contribution to my life, I just don’t know how to measure it.
Hugh: Doing Encore shows definitely helped me to become more social. I was kind of awkward and afraid before I did a play, and had trouble making new friends. I didn’t talk to a lot of people. Doing a show taught me to become more outgoing, and I’m really glad I decided to do it in the end. I’ve made a lot of really good friends from that, and I don’t know where I would be today without them. They’ve been the best friends I’ve ever had. There are a lot of really outgoing people in this type of field, and they just live to make others happy. A lot of them come up to you and talk to you when you’re lonely or unhappy, and it goes a long way. I’m thankful that I get to work with them.
Encore: What are your plans after you graduate?
Olivia: I’m attending UVA in the fall and I plan to major in History and then Teacher Education. I’m going to get my Masters and then I plan to go into teaching. Preferably Secondary Education in History I think. Either middle school or high school.
Hugh: After I graduate, I plan to study acting at Shenandoah University. I want to learn to become a better actor and hope that I can get a lot out of it. I look at acting as a big game of make believe, in a way. You get to escape reality and be something that you’re not, really getting to try all different sorts of things at times. When I learned that you could do that as a career, I was like, “That’s for me, mate. Sign me up.” I’ve also considered going into film and television production or something having to do with writing, if it doesn’t go to plan, so hopefully all goes well.
Matt: After graduating high school I will be attending Furman University.
Sean: I plan to attend Roanoke college in the fall to study computer science and possible econ. I do plan on participating in the theater program there to continue my acting career.
Encore: What advice can you give to students interested in theatre for the first time or rising seniors who want to be involved in Encore/theatre in general?
Sean: For kids who are new to theater, it is very important to figure out who your character is. What is his back story? Why does he do what he does? Why is he in this scene? Is there anything special about him, like the way he walks, or how he interacts or knows the other characters? Thinking about this can make your character more then what is in the script.
Hugh: First, I’d say that you’re never too old to start. I was a sophomore when I did Robin Hood, and that was my first show. I’m glad I decided to do it, because it was a lot of fun and I got a lot out of it. Second, have fun with it! It’s important to be professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let loose a little and have fun with your role. I personally feel that the best shows I’ve been involved with were the ones where everybody involved could bring out the best in each other and have fun. You really bond with the cast that way. Lastly, I’d say respect everyone involved. Everyone plays a significant part, regardless of what they do or where they stand, and nobody is more superior than anybody else. That is a very important aspect; it’s about the group as a whole.
Olivia: GO FOR IT. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. Don’t let your self-consciousness prevent you from doing something so fun and so useful in life! The skills you learn in theatre are some of the most important ones. Just try and believe in yourself or let Encore/theatre help you believe in yourself. Just open up, it’s never too late to join and enjoy theatre.
Photos taken by Larry McClemons