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Join Us at the Arlington County Fair!

August 8, 2014

It’s here! The moment you’ve all been waiting for! Today is the first day of the Arlington County Fair! Come visit Encore Stage & Studio’s table in the indoor portion of the fairgrounds to learn about performances, auditions and classes for our upcoming season, grab a piece of free candy, and take a picture with some of our funniest costumes and props! I’ll be there, enjoying my last days as Encore’s Marketing Intern. I hope I’ll see you there, too!

Our table will be open from 4pm-10pm today, 10am-9pm on Saturday, and 11am-7pm on Sunday. See you there!

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And they lived happily ever after…A Recap of “Once Upon A Mattress”

August 1, 2014

Here’s What’s You Missed On…”Once Upon A Mattress”!

Once Upon A Mattress

Princess Winnifred felt the pea under the mattress and passed the princess test so she and Prince Dauntless can get married. Dauntless stood up to his mom so now she can’t talk but the King finally can. Sir Harry and Lady Larkin are getting married and having a baby, and everyone lived happily ever after. And that’s what you missed on…

Once Upon A Mattress Princess Winnifred is played by Carla Astudillo in Encore Stage & Studio’s “Once Upon A Mattress” (2014)[/caption]Last weekend was the the final performance of Encore’s summer musical Once Upon A Mattress (a Broadway musical version of the classic story of the Princess and the Pea), bringing in over 1,600 audience members! There has been no shortage of fancy dance moves, quirky princesses, and pesky peas this summer, but if you missed any of the fun, Carla Astudillo–our very own Princess Winnifred–can fill you in.

Carla is a college student and has worked at Encore for the past 3 seasons, including at our Encore summer camps this year. For more information on Carla–when she’s not playing Princess Winnifred–check out her Front Row feature from last year. Here’s what she had to say about the role of Fred, and her summer at Encore:

Encore: How did you enjoy the role of Princess Fred?

Carla: I absolutely loved playing Winnifred. It is so refreshing to play a princess who is wild and free.

E: Do you and Fred have any similarities/differences?

C: Fred and I definitely have a lot in common. We both love nature and where we come from, are loud, and love making people laugh. It was fun and challenging to play someone that I felt such a strong connection with.

E: This was your third summer with Encore, what made you return?

C: I love Encore so much. It really comes down to the community. The people here are so kind, and I have made lifelong friendships. Aside from the great people, Encore offers a fun and educational theatrical experience. I cannot imagine a summer without Encore.

E: What was your favorite scene in the show or moment this summer at Encore?

C: It’s pretty difficult to pick just one, and I cherish every scene where I get to interact with the ensemble, but my favorite scene (song) in the show was probably Happily Ever After. It was always a challenge, and I loved hearing how different audiences reacted to it each night.

E: If you can describe Encore in one word, what would it be and why?

C: Community. Encore has created such a tight knit, yet all-inclusive community, and I cannot express enough how happy I am each time I walk into a rehearsal/performance. These people have become my family, and I am so grateful to be a part of this community.

We had a great time working with Carla and the entire Once Upon A Mattress cast and crew this summer. Congratulations to each and every one of them on their fantastic performance! If you weren’t able to come see Once Upon A Mattress last weekend, never fear! Encore isn’t going anywhere. Our next production, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, opens on November 7, 2014. We have a great 2014/2015 season lined up, so be sure to get your discount ticket bundles this season and sign up for our e-newsletter for updates on everything we have in store this season.

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Meet Our Friendly Neighborhood Minstrel: Padraig “Paddie” Clancy

July 27, 2014

Once Upon A MattressToday 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?

The 12 Dancing Princesses Crew (2014)

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!

A True Musical Connoisseur | Meet “Once Upon A Mattress” Actress Lowry Palmer

July 17, 2014

DSC_0095For 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?

L: 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.

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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.

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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.