The Front Row Blog

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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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      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.

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      “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.

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      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 info@encorestage.org 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

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      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.

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      “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.”

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      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.

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      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.

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      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:

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      Photos by Larry McClemons and Aileen Pangan.

Encore Presented its First Collaborated School Production

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      This week was a special one for Encore! For the past few months, Encore Stage and Studio participated in its first collaboration with an Arlington elementary School to direct a performance in conjunction with their PTA. Earlier this week, the story of Dorothy in Wonderland came to life on stage at Ashlawn Elementary, presented this past Tuesday, March 24. Encore Executive Director, Sara Duke, directed the show, with the help of Ashlawn’s PTA.

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      Somewhere over the rainbow, the worlds of Oz and Wonderland collided in this fantastically fun romp, cleverly and carefully adapted from the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. Dorothy’s friends try to help her find her way home, meeting many other interesting characters along the way, including Alice, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and many more. They also must face a dangerous new foe — the Queen of Hearts! During intermission, the cards and chess pieces danced along with the audience, giving them a chance to get out the wiggles! The cast performed a matinee show in front of their peers, and an evening performance. Thank you to all who were involved in the success of this production. Thank you to parents and supporters! Well done cast and crew!

      Photo credit: Christine Lyons

D’Artagnan Tells All: Meet Kris Heaton

      Now last but not least for our three-stories-series today, let’s meet the narrator of our Three Musketeers production, the older D’Artagnan, Kristopher Heaton. Over the last two seasons, Kris has played many roles and boy does he have many stories to share. Check out Kris’s interview of his Encore Experience!

      Older D'Artagnan (Kristopher Heaton) shares his past, untold adventure to the guards. Guards from left to right: Xander Tilock, Jack Beckerman and Abi Burkholder. Photo by Aileen Pangan.

      Hello. My name’s Kristopher N. Heaton, but most people just call me Kris. I’m eighteen years old and loving every minute of it, attending Yorktown High School as a senior, and outside of theater, I enjoy writing, be it poems or the books I’m working on, voice acting, hanging out with my friends outside of and in Encore, playing video games, playing with my dogs, martial arts, long walks, comfortable drives, and much more.

      Encore: What productions and programs have you been involved with Encore?
      Kris:
      So far, [other than The Three Musketeers] I’ve done four shows with Encore, my ruling thought besides the love of it all being that I wish I’d taken up acting and discovered it much earlier in my life. My friend Hugh, an Encore actor himself, introduced me to it as they were getting ready for Twelve Dancing Princesses, and my audition to that show was my inception to the Encore family that I’ve come to know and love. After having a blast playing an impoverished, conflicted, but well-meaning and valiant amnesiac named Peter, I came back for the summer show, Once Upon a Mattress, where I played goofy, happy-go lucky ensemble knight Sir Bedivere. I most recently acted in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, playing the unsuspecting Farmer Anderson and his spectral masquerade, the Headless Horseman.

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      Encore: What motivated your interest in auditioning for a show at Encore?
      Kris:
      Well, long story short, my interest in acting and the fun I’ve always had with it motivated my interest in auditioning for Encore. My friend Hugh told me about it and how they were looking for tall guys to fill certain parts, so I stepped right on it and looked up their upcoming show, Twelve Dancing Princesses. The story got me very interested: twelve princesses mysteriously leave the castle every night, returning with torn shoes and a secret to keep, a secret that a certain soldier is tasked with bringing to light. I’ve always liked seeing mysteries adapted into plays, so put together with that and the certain brand of tall young guys I heard could give me a good chance, I looked up times for auditions and went to the first one I could fit myself into, ready for my first brush with Encore Stage and Studio.

      Kristopher Heaton ("Peter")

      Encore: How did you become interested in theatre in general?
      Theatre in general has always been something I’ve enjoyed ever since I signed up for it in the seventh grade with some of my friends. I have experience with acting on film and behind a mic as either a character or a narrator, but there’s something in theatre that you just can’t find in film or voice acting. It’s hard to explain, but there’s this magic that overcomes you when you go out for an audition or step out onto the stage. When you’re doing theatre, you’re living in a way that you just don’t get to in the real world. You can draw from deeper parts of yourself that you don’t bring up in the day-to-day, be it heavier emotions or thick reservoirs of energy, and you can just throw them out there with all your power. With other kinds of acting, they’re definitely fun, but there’s always this lingering reminder that you’re doing it for a good take to be edited and played with later on; you’re always going to know that you’re acting. But in theatre, there’s a genuine feeling that you’re living as another character in a whole different setting and it’s a beautiful, fascinating feeling that you can only find on the stage, with or without the flash photography.

      Encore: What is your most memorable experience at Encore?
      Kris:
      It’s definitely hard to say, but if I really have to pick, my most memorable experience at Encore would definitely be my time acting in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I think a lot of that has to do with the time convenience. When I acted in Twelve Dancing Princesses and Once Upon a Mattress, I had a great time with a wonderful cast and crew that I would definitely keep coming back for. But back then, I was dealing with the toughest year of high school with plenty of stress and sleep deprivation out to get me. Now when I acted in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I was going through a much better time. Senior year’s a lot less of a burden than junior year; there’s a lot more freedom and maneuverability and, best of all, more of a beauty sleep to make you feel better the next day. I would always come to Sleepy Hollow rehearsals feeling great and ready to have a great time with one of the best and most fun casts I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, and that’s saying something! Every single one of the cast and crew of Sleepy Hollow was a boat load of fun who made for a wonderful show to be in and a very heartfelt cast party when it was all over; they’re the kind of people who remind me of why I love Encore so much in the first place.

      Encore: What skills have you learned from your experience at Encore?
      Kris:
      There’s definitely been a thing or two I’ve learned from Encore. One aspect of theatre, and acting in general, that I’m so glad I learned from Encore is how to be more physical with characters. I’ve always loved getting to put my physicality into roles, but I never knew how to do it as well as I did when Encore gave me the delightful challenge of playing roles filled to the brim with that requirement. I think the most memorable example has to be my time playing Peter in Twelve Dancing Princesses. A lot of his motions had to project masculinity and strength, so putting that in everything from his posture to his walk was a nice little learning experience. There was also the swordfight at the end with Adam (Phanteous) and Court (Terius) (who were wonderful partners, by the way), where we all had to coordinate our movements in rhythm with the soundtrack while still making it all look real and relatively intense. I think that was the first experience of that kind for all three of us, one which we all enjoyed immensely.

      Another valuable thing I learned from Encore was developing characters. Not that I never did it with other characters I played as well, but the productions at Encore really push you to develop a character of your own to stay with in the first place. No other productions I’ve been in have stressed the importance of that aspect as well as Encore has, so it’s definitely something that made it a true learning experience, as well as a fun part of playing all three of my characters in the Encore ensemble. But it was more than just a job assignment. Encore knows how to get you motivated in regards to the characters you play and you can channel that motivation into thinking them up, making them real characters that you give life to rather than just simple roles. We were even assigned with writing character bios for our Sleepy Hollow characters, which, as a writer, you know I got to have my fun with. Other productions can teach it too, but I don’t think any of them have hit the point as well as Encore has so far.

      Encore: What is your favorite Encore role yet?
      Kris:
      That’s easily the hardest question here. I’ve loved all of the roles I’ve played in Encore for their own respective reasons, but if I really had to pick one, I think that I’d have to choose Farmer Anderson as my favorite Encore role yet. As stated above, the great and lovable people that comprised the show’s cast and crew were part of made for arguably the most fun I had in an Encore production, but another great part of it all was playing Farmer Anderson, a seemingly good samaritan with plenty to hide and many a scheme up his sleeve. I think that a good deal of the fun I had with him comes from the development I got to take with him. I was given the role with the information that he was a simple farmer to the eyes of Sleepy Hollow, but wore the disquise of the Headless Horseman by the time he was motivated to go after Ichabod Crane. With that, I was left with such a juicy character who I could gnash my teeth into, creating a motivation for him, a plan and mindset to go with that motivation, but then we were assigned the character bios, and that’s when I was pretty sure Anderson was the most fun I’d ever had with an Encore character.

      I was even allowed to add a lot of props and physical quirks to him too, such as a cane for the leg injury that he faked to further cement his good samaritan charade and a piece of hay in his mouth. But what was truly interesting about him is that you get to combine two personas into one character and play them both at their respective moments. Anderson’s quiet, but polite, gentle and loyal as far as the town knows. That kind of calculation and feigned courtesy is fun to play. But then you’ve got the Horseman, who I would always shake in excitement for. Getting to project like that, play with voices, it’s all a lot of fun. The fact that Susan let me improvise so many of my lines just made it all the more enjoyable. And both of those roles track back to the third, true character, the manipulative and ambitious Farmer Anderson. What actor doesn’t enjoy playing a good, old-fashioned villain?

      Encore: Any other favorite moments at Encore?
      Kris:
      I definitely think that every show that I’ve had with Encore has had that golden moment, that great time that highlights the experience and leaves you knowing that you were in a show that’s been worth the whole of your time with it. For Twelve Dancing Princesses, the great moment that I always think back to is definitely the sword fight that Adam, Court, and I had. It’s basically Court and I going two-on-one against Adam, who’s taking us with a staff and black magic, in a final battle for the fate of the princesses. And the whole experience was something we all enjoyed. We were at it for weeks in rehearsal, with Matt making for a great and patient choreographer. The energy and the adrenaline felt great and we would always agree that it was probably the thing we would remember most about the show.

      During Once Upon a Mattress, we were having one of our last rehearsals. I forget what led up to it, but I think it was Will (one of the knights) who brought a radio and we were singing along to a remorseless number of songs. Eventually, it led to us getting into a congo line and just going throughout the entire set dancing, laughing, and just having a good time. I think that was a moment where we all felt the cast bond that we’d all enjoyed throughout the entire show and just enjoyed being together. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments with one of the best and friendliest casts I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.

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      For Sleepy Hollow, the experience that I’m always going to look back on with utter fondness is definitely our cast party. There have been great cast parties before, but most of them have been kind of casual compared to this one. You know, usually we would just enjoy our time together, laugh about the good times we had and look toward more during the next show. We pretty much did the same thing, but there was something different about it this time. There was really this great sense of harmony and togetherness building up toward the end of it, and what was originally just casual conversations, jokes, playing on Instagram and all of the other stuff you’d expect from us, became something more heartfelt than I think any of us expected. As everything started to wind down, we all just started reminiscing, talking about the good times we had on the show, giving each other pats on the back, saying we looked forward to seeing each other in other shows or on Broadway, and telling each other how much fun it was to work together. Of course, some of us were a little more laid back about it (I can’t say I was one of them.), but I think I can safely say that we all felt something powerful that I still can’t quite explain. I haven’t been without the heartwarming cast party, but we’d all just bonded so much during our time working on the show and I think that during the party, we were all realizing what we had, what we’d made besides just another show. It was really just one of the most heartfelt moments I’d ever had in a show and it was just such a beautiful note to end such a great show with a wonderful cast on.

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      Thanks Kris for your awesome Encore stories! Happy Strike cast and crew!

      Photos by Larry McClemons

“The 3 Musketeers…And D’Artagnan!” | Meet Topher Wagner

      March 5, 2015

      DSC_0333 Moving along in our special snow day story series, let’s meet more of the cast members of The Three Musketeers! Up next is the former Gander-turned-Prince-turned-Detective-turned Musketeer: Topher Wagner!

      Hi, I am Topher Wagner and I am 15 years old in 10th grade at Yorktown High School. Outside of theatre I enjoy running cross country for my school and playing Recreational basketball with friends.

      Encore: What is your role in The Three Musketeers and what was your reaction when you received the part? Topher: In The Three Musketeers I play the role of D’Artagnan, the young apprentice and friend of the three musketeers on their mission to escort the king’s dog to Spain. I was surprised and very excited when I received the role to be able to play a funny and interesting character like D’Artagnan and work with the rest of The Three Musketeers and the cast on a great ensemble production.

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      Encore: What other roles, productions, programs have you been involved in with Encore? What is your most memorable moment in this show or other Encore programs?
      Topher:
      Before at Encore I started out as the gander in Charlotte’s Web in my first show and have also participated in Sleeping Beauty as Prince Alexander and Sherlock Holmes as Sherlock Holmes. During the shows at Encore I don’t have one specific favorite memory because every show is unique and a great experience. As you prepare for the shows the entire cast bonds so much together and that’s why all the shows are such good experiences.

      Encore: What can our audiences look forward to in this show?
      Topher:
      Along with some very comedic scenes and jokes and the [guest appearance of a furry friend] in the show, their are many entertaining fight scenes throughout the show. These realistic wooden swords provide some great fights between the musketeers and evil henchman alike.

      The musketeers are caught in the hands of Captain Rochefort (Angus Long). Will they escape? Find out at Encore's production of The Three Musketeers.  From left to right: Aramis (Brody Karton), Porthos (Colin Meek), Athos (Zach Longsworth) and D'Artagnan (Christopher Wagner). Photo by Aileen Pangan

      Encore: What are some tips you can share to families about being in the audience?
      Topher:
      In the audience, you participate as much in the show as the actors do so it is important to laugh and enjoy yourself while not disrupting the actors on stage either. After the show is over, be sure to get all the actors’ autographs in the lobby and ask questions to the actors once the play is over.

      Thanks Topher for sharing your Encore journey and tips for the audience! Join us in this weekend for great laughs and an amazing adventure with an Encore twist! The Three Musketeers will be playing this weekend. Click here to buy your tickets today.

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      Photo by Larry McClemons and Aileen Pangan. Graphic Design by Aimee Pangan. Click here to read Maggie Keane’s Encore experience.

Meet Cardinal Richelieu | Brian MetCalf

      Next up is one actor whose maniacal laugh is just as loud as Milady De’Winter. He’s clever, he’s devious, he’s Cardinal Richelieu! This is Brian MetCalf’s first production with Encore and he’s happy to introduce himself. DSC_0105

      Hello my name is Brian Metcalf, I am 17 and in 11th grade, I am home-schooled. I previously lived in Texas where I performed in several productions, albeit as dead bodies but never the less performed. This my first show with Encore. When I heard them announce that I would portray Cardinal Richelieu a feeling of great relief washed over me, for you see that was exactly the role I wanted.

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      Enough said! For those who missed the show, here’s the summary of Encore’s debut of its original script:

      In 17th-century France, a poor young nobleman named d’Artagnan leaves home to join the famous Musketeers of the Guard–defenders of the King and masters of the rapier! On his journey, D’Artagnan befriends three famous Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. As the foursome roams the countryside, they encounter a dastardly plot to kidnap the King’s favorite dog…and realize they’ll need the help of three swashbuckling ladies to save the day. This new Encore twist on the classic Alexandre Dumas adventure is recommended for children ages 6 and older.

Meet Musketeer Aramis: Brody Karton

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      In honor of our final show for The Three Musketeers, we’ll share three Encore stories with you today on the “Front Row” blog! Let’s meet one of the musketeers and learn about his Encore journey: Brody Karton!

      Hi my name is Brody Karton. I am 14 years old and in 8th grade at Kenmore Middle School. I enjoy playing many sports including basketball and baseball.

      Encore: What is your role in The Three Musketeers and what was your reaction when you received the part?
      Brody:
      In The Three Musketeers I play Aramis. I was really excited when I got the part because I wanted to be one of the musketeers and I thought Aramis was the most like me.

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      Encore: What other roles, productions, programs have you been involved in with Encore? What is your most memorable moment in this show or other Encore programs?
      Brody:
      My two most recent shows with Encore were Sherlock Holmes where I played the Sergeant and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow where I played Brom Bones. The most memorable moment of this show was probably the first time we were given swords and learned the very basics of fencing. I was really excited for all the stage combat with swords which I never experienced before.

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      Encore: What can our audiences look forward to in this show?
      Brody:
      There are lots of funny scenes and lines in the show and it’s also very interesting seeing a [furry friend] on stage.

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      Encore: What are some tips you can share to families about being in the audience?
      Brody:
      Feel free to laugh as much as you want. It’s really fun when you’re on stage and the audience shows they’re into the show by understanding the jokes and laughing at them.

       From left to right, D'Artagnan (Christopher Wagner), Porthos (Colin Meek), Aramis (Brody Karton), Athos (Zach Longsworth). Photo by Larry McClemons

      There you have it! Get ready for some laughs, swash-buckling and a good time this afternoon. Tickets are $12 for Adults, $10 for Children, Students, Military and Seniors.
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      Photo by Larry McClemons and Clarence Chan. Graphic Design by Aimee Pangan.

Meet Milady De’Winter: Maggie Keane

      March 5, 2015


       Milady de Winter (Maggie Keane) and her lady-in-waiting (Adelina Hartley) Photo by Larry McClemons Snowed in? Well speaking of winter–meet the actress who plays Milady De’Winter and really puts the “maniacal” in that loud maniacal laugh in Encore’s The Three Musketeers: Maggie Keane! From Sleeping Beauty, to Sleepy Hollow, and now the musketeers’ worst nightmare–Maggie tells all of her Encore roles past and present with tips for our audience members in the theatre! So pour some hot chocolate, grab a seat and practice your maniacal laugh as we learn about Maggie’s Encore journey!

      Hi, my name is Maggie Keane. I am fifteen years old and I’m in ninth grade at Yorktown High School. Theatre is my primary activity outside of school. Once I started Encore, I stopped playing sports because I enjoyed Encore so much more and I wanted to dedicate more time to that. When I’m not participating in theatre related activities, I enjoy singing loudly and off key, telling bad jokes, watching cheesy romance movies and, spending time with my friends and family.

      Encore: Tell us about your role and what was your reaction when you received your role?
      Maggie:
      In The Three Musketeers, I play the role of Milady De’ Winter, Cardinal Richelieu’s evil spy. When I received this part, I was ecstatic. I have never played an evil role until now. I was thrilled to finally have been given this opportunity to branch out from my usual protagonist type roles and finally play the villain. I knew that it would be a challenge but it was a challenge I was extremely eager and ready to take on.

      Encore: What other roles, productions, programs have you been involved in with Encore?
      Maggie:
      I’ve participated in eleven shows with Encore, including this current one. I started when I was eleven years old in Darius The Dragon/Rap-punzel where I played a “Dozer-Bull” and a cabbage. Next, I played the Mother Duck/Reporter in Charlotte’s Web. After that, I played the role of Jaybird in Honk Jr. My fourth show was Sleeping Beauty where I played Princess Briar Rose. In the fall of 2013, I played the Centaur in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. After that, I played Dr. Sydney Freudley in The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes. The next show I was in was 12 Dancing Princesses where I played Princess Penelope. I then did my first show on tech in Once Upon a Mattress in the summer of 2014. In the fall of 2014, I played Katrina Van Tassel in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I then did a second show on tech for Cinderella. Now, I am playing Milady De Winter in The Three Musketeers. Each role that I’ve played with Encore has been tons of fun and has made me grow so much as an actress. Vegetables


      Encore: What is your most memorable moment in this show or other Encore programs?
      Maggie:
      My most memorable moment from this current show is probably learning to fight. The Three Musketeers is different from all of the other Encore shows I’ve been in because it incorporates multiple fight scenes and everyone in the cast got to learn some fencing skills.
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      Encore: What can our audiences look forward to in this show?
      Maggie:
      I think that this show appeals to many different audiences. It has humor, action, romance and a lot of adventure. There’s something in this show for everyone which is really unique. My favorite part is the humor. Even after six weeks of working on this show, I still find myself cracking up at many different lines every time we do a run through.

      Encore: What are some tips you can share to families about being in the audience?
      Maggie:
      A tip for families in the audience is definitely to try to listen closely. The show is filled with hilarious jokes so they can easily be missed when you’re not completely listening. I’d also recommend to come in with an open mind. I hope that the audience has as much fun watching this show as I do being a part of it. :)

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      Thanks Maggie for sharing your #EncoreExperience! More #SnowDayStories to come…stay tuned!

      Tickets are still available for The Three Musketeers playing March 6-8. Tickets are $12 for Adults, $10 for Children, Students, Military and Seniors. This production is located at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Click here to buy your tickets today.

      Photos by Larry McClemons and Aileen Pangan. Video by Sarah Strunk.

Magical Transformations | Meet Encore’s Cinderella, Malena Davis

      December 15, 2014

      Happy #MusicalMonday everyone!

      We’re looking forward to presenting the musical production of Cinderella in January. In this fairytale, Cinderella receives a magical transformation from her fairy godmother to go to the ball. Meet our very own Cinderella–Malena Davis, as she shares her Encore journey and transformation from once having stage fright, to now taking the lead in Cinderella.

      Charlotte's Web Encore: What productions and programs have you been involved with Encore?

      Malena: I have been in the cast for eight shows at Encore and I have been on tech for one (though I plan to do more in the near future). My first show with Encore was Charlotte’s Web; I played the old sheep. One of the main reasons I tried out was because my good friends Maddy and Laura W. convinced me to go with them (I used to have extreme stage fright!). Then over the summer I attended Encore’s Scenes for Teens camp, where I made a lot of friends and discovered how much I really enjoyed acting.

      The next show I was in was The Hobbit (which is also one of my favorite books) and I played the role of an elfin guard. This play allowed me to realize how much I enjoyed playing characters with mean qualities. My third show was Big Bad (I played the reporter) followed by Sleeping Beauty. I played the False Princess, another evil role (this show had my favorite makeup!).

      After that season came The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where I was the majestic unicorn. That show really helped me develop how to play a non-human characters. My first musical at Encore was The Little Mermaid. I played Andrina (one of Ariel’s sisters) and a few other roles. This helped me utilize my talent for singing and dancing. My role in The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Imogen, is one of my favorites because I loved how sassy and independent she was. I finally worked on the technical crew in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I really enjoyed being the lighting person and working with the many talented crew members. Now I am working on Cinderella and I cannot wait to show everyone what an amazing show it is!

      Encore: What was your first reaction when you received the role of Cinderella?

      Malena: When I received the role of Cinderella I was ecstatic! As a child I loved Cinderella because she was positive even through the roughest times.

      Encore: What you looking forward to the most in the show–is it the glass slippers, the magical pumpkin carriage or the happily-ever-after ending?

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      Malena: I am looking forward to Cinderella’s transformation, and all of my animal friends. Who doesn’t love a beautiful party dress?
      Encore: Are you a fan of fairytales? If so, what’s your favorite fairytale story/princess and why?

      Malena: Like most little girls, I love princesses! I love them most for overcoming adversity and of course getting the prince in the end. My favorite fairytales came from Aesop’s Fables and the Grimm stories. My favorite princess is probably Ariel because she really followed her heart to accomplish a goal.
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      Encore: What is your most memorable experience at Encore?

      Malena: I have enjoyed making so many friends and working with talented directors and staff. They all really motivated me throughout the process.

      Encore: What are some tips you can share to families about being in the audience?

      Malena: Clapping and laughing highly motivates many actors and gives us energy. Girls dressing up as princesses are always especially adorable!

      Encore: What skills have you learned from Encore, or what is the biggest take-away students can gain from their experience at Encore?

      Malena: I have found Encore has helped me with speaking in front of people and making new friends. Encore has also helped me memorize things and work in a group to have a great finished product.

      Encore: Will Cinderella make it to the ball and get her prince?

      Malena: You will have to come and find out if Cinderella makes it to the ball and gets the Prince!

      There you have it, come see Malena and our talented cast in Cinderella Tickets are on sale now. $12 for Adults; $10 for Children, Students, Military and Seniors.

      (From left to right) Cate Davis, Maggie Keane, Liza Harold, Ellie Wilkie, & Malena Davis

      (From left to right) Cate Davis, Maggie Keane, Liza Harold, Ellie Wilkie, & Malena Davis

      Want to meet Cinderella at the Ball? Join us for Cinderella’s Ball on January 10th, featuring tea and treats, waltz lessons, make your own fairy godmother wands, and a chance to meet your favorite Cinderella characters! Tickets are $60; ticket includes admission for one adult and one child to the 11 am performance of Cinderella and the ball. Click here to purchase your tickets today!

      Graphic Design by Aimee Pangan.

      Photos by Larry McClemons