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Music of the Heart: Meet Encore MTI Alum, Lauren Monsivaiz

      September 11, 2014

      Over the summer, we got a chance to chat with an alum of Encore’s programs, Lauren Monsivaiz, before she headed off to college! Learn about how Lauren found confidence and boldness with her passion for the performing arts and her experience in Encore’s Musical Theatre Intensive(MTI)!

      Encore: What productions and programs have you been involved with Encore?
      I have done 6 shows with Encore (Robin Hood: Old Widow; The Magical Lamp of Aladdin: Genie of the Lamp; The Hobbit: Elf Guard; Big Bad: crew; Legally Blonde the Musical: Court Stenographer/ensemble; The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: Susan) and I have also participated in every session of Show Choir/Musical Theatre Intensive except for the first one. I also attended one of their workshops on accents.

      From left to right: Aslan (Sean Hackes), Lucy Pevensie (Isabel Tate),  Peter Pevensie (Richard Bew) and Susan Pevensie (Lauren Monsivaiz).

      From left to right: Aslan (Sean Hackes), Lucy Pevensie (Isabel Tate), Peter Pevensie (Richard Bew) and Susan Pevensie (Lauren Monsivaiz). Photo by Larry McClemons.

      Encore: What are some of your school involvements and activities outside of theatre?
      Besides theatre with Encore, I’ve also been involved in 7 school productions and participated in Chorus for 3 years. I have also co-directed a summer neighborhood drama camp with Olivia Hammermaster (also an active Encore member) for the past 5 years.

      Encore: What is your proudest/memorable moment while participating at Encore?
      I don’t know how I could pick a proudest moment from my time with Encore, but one of the most memorable and honorable experiences was actually very recent. I was asked to speak at the annual Encore Benefit Breakfast as one of two graduates who got the opportunity to share about their time with the organization. I felt incredibly blessed and emotional while giving my brief speech, unable to adequately express my love for the people and the activities that I have worked with over the years. That was probably my greatest moment, not due to my words in and of themselves, but purely for the chance to share and try and give back in words what Encore gave me in so many other ways. 7Q9C7280-3198224365-O

      Encore: How has Encore impacted your life beyond the stage?
      Encore has impacted me in many ways, but the biggest and most obvious way has been my confidence. More often than not, you’ll find me dancing and laughing loudly in most situations. I’m no longer as quiet or reserved or shy as I was at the beginning of high school. Encore Stage & Studio introduced me to people with the same interests, gifts, and aspirations that I possessed, and beautifully portrayed the ways in which I could follow those dreams. Encore opened up a world of opportunities that I had never imagined possible.

      Encore: What sparked your interest in joining Musical Theatre Intensive (MTI)?
      I’m almost always dancing in some way, shape, or form. Going right along with that, I love to sing. And of course, acting has always been a passion of mine… So put them all together and you get MTI! I had actually been looking for an outlet for a show choir-type program for awhile, so when Encore started it up I got really excited to join.

      Encore: What is your favorite number you performed with MTI?
      Tough question… I think my favorite pop number was “I Forgive You” by Kelly Clarkson (I jam out really hard to this song), and then my favorite show tune was “Lady’s Maid” from Titanic the Musical, where I got a lot of opportunities to put more acting into the musical number.

      “I love the broad spectrum of music we’ve covered, knowing I’ll become more cultured each time I enter the rehearsal room.” -Lauren Monsivaiz111_7198

      Encore: What was it like to work with Doug Ullman and Kelsey Meiklejohn? How did you enjoy their styles of teaching?
      Doug and Kelsey are two of my favorite directors, ever. Doug is one of the greatest and most talented musical directors I’ve ever had. His confidence and knowledge of his field is incredible, and he is always willing to help out his students with anything. He and Kelsey are both constantly pushing us to go beyond whatever limits we’ve created for ourselves, knowing our abilities stretch so much farther than we think they do. Kelsey is the tiniest ball of energy I’ve ever met. I love her way of choreographing, because she incorporates so many different styles into our repertoire. The best thing about these two directors is how well they work together. Often times, they don’t even have to use words in order to be on the same page. Their cohesive and understanding (and hilarious) relationship creates a perfect environment for us to learn and explore and ask questions. I will never forget the skills and laughs that I’ve gained from working with Doug and Kelsey.

      Lauren MonsivaizEncore: What made you stick to the program for all these years?
      Well, I guess I could just say see above! The directors and the way the program is run just keeps me interested. I love the broad spectrum of music we’ve covered, knowing I’ll become more cultured each time I enter the rehearsal room. I’ve never learned so much and had so much fun all at the same time before in my life, so I stuck around.

      Encore: You have great stage presence! How has the program shaped your performance skills or appreciation for musical theatre?
      Thank you! I can say with certainty that how MTI has been a significant contributor in that area. As I alluded to, I have not only gained confidence, but boldness in the field of musical theatre. I’m more willing than ever to try a new dance move or attempt to reach a new high note. I know that “my voice is higher” and “if Kelsey’s arms can reach that high, so can mine!” I now know about so many different shows and types of music and dance styles that I would’ve never heard about otherwise. I’ve developed an interest in musicals that runs much deeper than just what’s popular on Broadway at the time, and I am so thankful for that.

      Encore: What are your plans after you graduate high school?
      I am headed to Texas A&M this fall, where I will be majoring in Theatre and hopefully minoring in languages. My passion is theatrical performance, so if Broadway doesn’t happen then we’ll see… My plans other than college are not all that specific, but I’m ready for some great adventures!

      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 and theatre in general?
      Take a deep breath and jump. One of my favorite quotes is “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong” (Joseph C. Pearce) and I have tried to live by that since discovering the concept. Fear of failure is often one of life’s biggest pitfalls, so jump over it! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

      We thank you Lauren for sharing your Encore experience and we wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors! Your Encore family will always be cheering you on!

      Do you have a passion for music and performing just like Lauren? Explore musical theatre and sharpen your skills in Encore’s Musical Theatre Intensive program! This challenging opportunity is designed to put vocal and dance skills into action. Bring your friends and enroll this fall!


      This top notch group is open to students in grades 8-12. Best for students with previous choral and dance experience. Regular attendance is expected.
      FALL SESSION: September 22 – December 3, 2014
      TIME: Mondays, 7:00-9:00 pm
      LOCATION: Theatre On The Run (3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr. Arlington, VA 22206)

      For more details about the program, click here to check out the Musical Theatre Intensive page.

      Click here to enroll online today!

      Photos by Clarence Chan, Larry McClemons, Aileen Pangan and Caroline Schreiber

      Sept. 22 – Dec. 3 | Theatre On The Run

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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!