The Front Row Blog


Hang Ten with Twelfth Night Stage Manager: Liam Clancy


Meet Liam Clancy, our Twelfth Night Stage Manager, who has been making waves throughout the Encore season! From his first time on stage, to his many roles backstage, Liam Clancy has been nothing less than awesome.

Hello, my name is Liam Clancy and I am the stage manager for Encore’s production of Twelfth Night. I attend Trinity school at Meadowview, where I am a sophomore. I was first introduced to Encore a couple of years ago when Act 3 was doing Pirates of Penzance. Although I hadn’t auditioned to do tech for that show, my brother had and I was working in the scene shop helping out. After pestering from my brother, I Auditioned for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I got in with the role of fly-man and have been on tech ever since. I still remember during intermission for that show I would have to sweep up all the fake snow I showered on the actors during one of the scenes.

Skip forward a few years and I had my first acting role for Encore. I had acted before with my elementary and middle school but I had never acted for Encore. Receiving the role of Dr. Livesy (described in the script as “mildly ineffective doctor”) I remember thinking “Great, since I’m not a doctor myself I think I can be a mildly, or even a very ineffective doctor.” Rehearsals for that show certainly had their obstacles, but with the help of our Director and Stage manager, we were able to get through them and put the show on stage. I suppose I’ll act again eventually, but you’ll have to wait and see when.

Liam Clancy ("Dr. Livesey")

From left to right: Captain Smollett (Annie Wood), Dr. Livesey (Liam Clancy) and Squire Trelawney (Brian Metcalf) board the ship to Treasure Island

Last December, I was the Set Designer for Fairy Tale Christmas Carol. I never really had learned how to set design, but I had built so many set pieces that I had a good idea what I was doing. What I didn’t realize is that I had been building for the large stage of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, not the small black box at Gunston. In the end, I had built a set almost too large to fit in the small wings we set up in the theater. During tech week we faced that problem and figured out the storage of the set pieces, and the show looked good and ran smoothly.



From all of my Encore experiences, I have learned the skills to build objects from scratch, to speak in public, and to manage stress. For the first skill, I remember having to build a large round picnic table and benches for my backyard with my brother. We had both built sets for Encore, so we easily planned and built the picnic table and benches in about 6 hours. The second skill, public speaking, is one of the most useful that I have learned. The skill to be able to speak to other people and have your point be clearly understood is rare, and the fear of public speaking often ranks higher than that of death. To have and be able to use this skill is invaluable. Finally, the skill of dealing with stress is the most important thing I have gained from my Encore experience. Theater is stressful. So is school, or a job, and being able to manage it is a skill that everyone needs. Working in a theater, you need to react quickly and effectively when something goes wrong, and stressful moments like that make or break a show. Once you can deal with things like that, you can deal with anything. I love Encore for all that is has done for me, and I stongly encourage anyone reading this to come see William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. I’ll certainly be there.

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Hang Ten with Twelfth Night Set Designer: Kara Fagerstrom

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This season, we’ve been enjoying sets designed by students themselves! Twelfth Night’s final show is today, and to celebrate the run, we’re excited introduce you to our student set designer, Kara Fagerstrom!

Kara Fagerstrom ("Crew")

My name is Kara Fagerstrom and I am a rising high school junior. Outside of Encore, most of my time in the last few years has been devoted to two youth circuses. I especially enjoyed performing on trapeze, aerials and stilts.

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Encore: Describe your experience as student set designer for Twelfth Night. What are your responsibilities and how long is the process?
I was first asked to be the student set designer about a year ago. It was so exciting to help design the show sets and see them fully completed and used on stage! My responsibilities before the show opened included going to production meetings, drafting sketches of scenery pieces and ideas, conferring on the final design, and helping to build, paint and transport the set into the theater. During tech week I was responsible for helping the crew plan and practice running scene changes. During the show’s run I am watching each performance closely and noting where the movement of pieces and props is not on cue and then giving feedback to the tech crew, so that the audience gets the best experience we can give.




Encore: Can you describe your first involvement with Encore? What motivated you to audition?
I have been attending Encore shows for as long as I can remember. As a little kid, I loved that after each show I would have the cast sign my program. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing ever. As I got older my parents told me that I could crew (I like crew better) when I was old enough, so I auditioned for crew when I was 13.

Encore: Throughout the years you’ve played many roles and positions for Encore on cast and crew. What would be your favorite role/responsibility yet?
I have been a part of 13 shows with Encore 12 of them on crew. My first show was The Little Mermaid on props and I have been on pretty much every show since then. I acted in Alice in Wonderland as Swallowtail. I enjoyed that I a lot and I will probably audition for cast again. One of my favorite shows was Shrek and I was running flies. The fly system moves set pieces and curtains up and down vertically. In this way, we can “fly” scenery, curtains, backdrops and even people into a scene.

Encore: Can you share a memorable moment you had at Encore?
During Cinderella, the lead actress, playing Cinderella, had to hold a mask over her face so that the guests at the ball wouldn’t recognize her. The actress badly injured her right shoulder during the show’s run and the mask was held up with her right hand. She could not hold the mask, but this was discovered only minutes before the scene. We had to quickly come up with a solution. The solution involved ripping the handle off the mask and gaff taping it on to the other side. Voila! We made a left-handled mask with only a second to spare!

Thanks Kara for sharing your Encore experience!

Surf’s Up! Hang Ten with Twelfth Night Director: Elizabeth Pringle

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We are growing near to the opening of the Twelfth Night! During a fierce storm and devastating surfboard accident, twins Viola and Sebastian are separated. Viola surfaces on a beach, and, believing her brother disappeared, finds acceptance by disguising herself as a man named Cesario. In a classic case of mistaken identity and unexpected love, hilarity ensues as we meet this 1960’s beach movie cast of characters. Let’s hang ten with show director, Elizabeth Pringle!

Elizabeth: I have been working as an actress, playwright, director, and teacher in DC in theatre and media since the last century when I moved here from Minneapolis and Chicago where I grew up dancing and doing theatre. I have always worked in theatre but at the start of the 21st century I began working in international broadcasting creating arts and media initiatives and programing for children and educators. I’m fascinated by storytelling in all media and the intersection of digital media and tools and the mind. With MHz Networks I created one of the first classroom filmmaking programs that aligned with and international film festival for the original film created by young people. Recently, I worked with the In Series adapting Mozart’s 1st opera, Bastian and Bastiana as well as creating a show around the work of Latina composers. I’m also working with the Kennedy Center on the 25th anniversary of the New Visions New Voices celebrating and supporting the creation of new plays and musicals for young audiences and families as well as teaching and acting this spring with Theatre Lab in DC.

Encore: Can you describe the era for Twelfth Night and what inspired that decision?
Shakespeare’s plays are so perfect for adapting to other contexts. It is not really about a specific place or time but about love and how it affects different kinds of people. So, why not set it in another seaside community? Why not California in the style of a 1960s beach movie? All of the same elements are present.

A Fairytale Christmas Carol

Encore: This is your second show with Encore in a black box theatre this season! What can the audience look forward to in a theatre such as this, and what does it provide for your cast or show?
The black box is such a wonderful place for theatre and for young actors to really connect with an audience. With the audience on three sides the actors have to be aware of sharing the play with the audience sitting all around them.

Photo by Larry McClemons(Photo from A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol (2015), Directed by Elizabeth Pringle)

Encore: What do you enjoy most about directing Shakespeare?
Shakespeare had embedded in his text all kinds of clues about character and movement and meaning. The plays are just waiting to be unpacked. And still there is so much room to add your own context and connect to more contemporary meaning.

Encore: Can you share a memorable moment you had at Encore?
It is always so much fun to see what the design teams have devised for a play. I’ll be in rehearsal and as we get closer to tech week and performance, design elements will add to the production. It’s wonderful to have the input of other artists on the production and to see what the adult and student designers have created for the show.

Encore: Can you describe what makes children’s theatre and Shakespeare special?
The language of Shakespeare is very imagistic and physical. You see young actors connect with the text and understand the meaning and how they can express both the poetry and the plot. It is so amazing to see 400 year old scripts come alive through young actors to a modern audience. And suddenly, we’re connected – thanks to theatre – to our shared humanity, no matter what age or experience.

There you have it! Catch the waves and join Encore for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, running May 13 through 22 at Gunston Arts Center (2700 S. Lang St. Arlington, VA 22206). Buy your tickets today!
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(Photos by Larry McClemons and Susan Keady)

Cul de Sac | June 3-12, 2016 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre

CDS Announcement

Encore Stage & Studio presents Cul de Sac on June 3-12 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
Play by Amy Thompson
Adapted from the Comic Strip, Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson

Four-year-old Alice Otterloop and her older brother, Petey, learn about friendship and the importance of being yourself in this world premiere play adaptation of Richard Thompson’s nationally syndicated Cul De Sac comic strip. When Alice decides to help Petey become more exciting she risks sending Petey further into his shell. With the help other their parents, teachers, and new and old friends the Otterloop children just might be able to learn something from each other. We recommend this production for ages 4 and older.

Performance Dates and Times:
Friday, June 3, 2016 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 11am and 3pm
Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 3pm
Friday, June 10, 2016 at 7:30pm
Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 11am and 3pm
Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 3pm

5 Reasons to Sign up for Encore’s Summer Camps!

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The weather this week is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and we are counting down to summer! Together let’s count down 5 reasons to sign up for Encore’s Summer Camps!

#5 Explore the World of Theatre: Our mission is to build a life-long appreciation for live theatre by involving young people in all aspects of theatre arts. It’s Elementary is a great introductory to theatre, and getting a well-rounded experience onstage, backstage, in the classroom and in the audience! Our students at Scenes for Tweens will dive deeper into character study, movement, improvisation and scene work. Students in Stage Door and Tech Camp will present a fully staged musical in three weeks. One-Act Wonders will hone both their performance and technical theatre skills. Lastly, Summer Stories campers will have a chance to experiment with playwriting, turning their favorite stories into memorable scenes and skits into a one-week camp. We’ve got a great line up of camps with fun and exciting themes to make it a theatrical summer to remember!

“I love the great variety of camp themes that Encore offers. Whether you want to dive into a classic musical, sharpen your costuming skills, learn to write a scene, focus on physical comedy, or just try out acting for the first time, there’s something available this summer for you!” -Caroline Schreiber, Camp Director for Stage Door

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#4 Discover Your Creativity Drama is a great place to let your imagination soar! Students will explore their creativity in a number of ways throughout the camp day, whether it’s dance, improv and theatre games, and crafts/building props. We encourage imagination and having an open mind to sharpen your creative skills!

“Every summer I look forward to seeing what my tech students will design each year for the set, props, and costumes. They are always coming up with creative ways to build or design something new.” -Rebecca, Camp Director of Tech Camp

#3 Build Confidence Our camps build towards a final performance. We focus on the journey of page to stage. Through the process, our amazing teaching artists and camp staff guide our students towards finding their individual interests and unique strengths, sharpening their skills, and gaining the confidence to perform in front of an audience!

“It’s exciting to see our students break out of their shell and grow into confident young artists in just a matter of days!” – Aileen Pangan, Dance Instructor

“I look forward to the growth of our campers. Every year our campers return, I get a sneak preview or a snapshot as to who they will be as an adult. I am just as eager to meet our new campers and watch the process begin a fresh and anew. Its like “the circle of life” to quote the title from a very well known musical.” -Madaline Langston, Camp Director of It’s Elementary

#2 Flexibility Our It’s Elementary sessions offer full day and half day options! Full day for It’s Elementary begins at 8:30am through 5:30 pm. Morning half day is from 8:30 am through 12:30 pm, and afternoon half day is 1:30 to 5:30 pm. All other Encore camps (Scenes for Tweens, Summer Stories, One-Act Wonders and Stage Door/Tech camp) offer optional morning and afternoon extended hours. Find an Encore camp that works best with your family’s schedule! Click here to visit our summer camp page for full schedules.

#1 Lasting Friendships! The theatre is all about teamwork! We all collaborate together towards a final performance and in the process, we make friends along the way. One of our values at Encore is inclusiveness. In a fun and safe environment, moments of learning together turn into memories and friendships that last a lifetime.

“This year will be my fourth year teaching tech camp. There are a few kids who have been there since the first session four years ago. It’s great to see them return every year and greet old friends and make new ones. Working on putting a show together, especially in a short amount of time, really bonds people together and helps foster friendships that last.” -Rebecca, Camp Director of Tech Camp

“It’s exciting to see campers return year after year and keep growing with our programs. I also love seeing students “graduate”–either to the next level of camp (going from It’s Elementary to Scenes for Tweens, or Scenes for Tweens to Stage Door), or from camper to camp aide. It’s a really wonderful thing when students are eager to join our staff and share the fun they had as campers with the next group of children.” -Caroline Schreiber, Camp Director for Stage Door

Don’t miss another minute! Enroll for Encore’s summer camps today!


5 Ways To Greet the Spring Season at Encore!


Spring is in the air! The flowers are blooming, the sun is out, and we’re shining a light on 5 ways to greet the spring season with Theatre by Kids, for Kids!

#5 – Sign up for Encore Stage & Studio’s Spring Break Camp (Private School) next week! While school is on a short vacation, Encore will take its students on a vacation of lifetime–into popular stories and musicals! Students in grades K-5 will enjoy a day of theatre activities and games, crafts, a movie, and fun in a safe and supportive environment. Camp hours are 9am-3pm with extended hours of 8-9am, 3-5pm. Camp is located at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (4000 Lorcom Ln Arlington, VA 22207).

Dates and Themes include:
Monday/Mar 28 – Tangled
Tuesday/Mar 29 – Peter Pan
Wednesday/Mar 30 – Beauty and the Beast
Thursday/Mar 31 – Lilo and Stitch
Friday/Apr 1 – Cinderella

Here’s what families are saying about our spring break camp:

Click here to sign up today!

#4 – Sign up for a theatre class this spring! Spring classes for students in grades K-8 begin Wednesday, April 6 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (4000 Lorcom Ln Arlington, VA 22207). Saturday spring classes start April 9-30 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Become a World Traveler, explore your comedic side with Saturday Stooges and Classic Comedy and more! Click here to check out our class schedule.


#3 – Buy your tickets for Musical Theatre Intensive’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on April 22-24, at Gunston Arts Center (2700 S. Lang St. Arlington, VA 22206). Get ready to sing, dance and SPELL your heart out along for a great time! Seven young spellers come together at a local school to use their talents to decide who will represent Putnam County in the national bee. Their zany personalities shine as they take on words that most people have never heard of, let alone can spell. Words fly as this fun, modern musical tells a tale of growing up while competing for prestige and bragging rights. We recommend this production for ages 8 and older.

Click here to buy your tickets online!


#2 – See our Twelfth Night cast perform at Bowen McCauley’s Move Me Festival on April 30! Drawing in over 1,200 attendees annually, Move Me is a FREE family-friendly celebration of arts and culture, promoting healthy lifestyles through movement and the arts and featuring performances and interactive activities provided by over twenty Arts Partners from the D.C. Metro area. The event is Saturday, April 30, 2016, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Rd. Arlington, VA 22204.)

#1 – Last but not least, help us celebrate Encore Stage & Studio’s 49 Season of “Theatre By Kids, For Kids” at the Sunny Side Up Benefit Breakfast. Learn about Encore’s 49 years of serving and inspiring children in our community with special performances by Encore Stage & Studio participants on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at Washington Golf & Country Club.

Encore Stage & Studio will also present the 2016 Celeste Groves Award to recipients Pat Kobor and Betsy Lohmann. There is no cost to attend the breakfast. Click here to RSVP today!

Benefit Breakfast 2014. Photo credit: Clarence Chan.

Meet Encore’s Education Programs Manager: Madaline Langston

You may have seen her friendly face during the summers at It’s Elementary–and we’re so thrilled to have her back throughout the season! She’s fabulous, she’s wonderful, and she’s ball of sunshine! Meet our new Education Programs Manager, Madaline Langston!

Madaline Younger Langston has been with Encore Stage & Studio’s It’s Elementary program for over a decade. Madaline is a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC. She began developing her improvisation and classical skills performing with the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Madaline went on to perform with the Shakespeare Theatre Company under the artistic direction of Michael Kahn, and has performed in two national tours with the Kennedy Center’s programs for children. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA, she has worked in films, industrials, and regional and national commercials. Madaline is also a member of Actors Equity Association. She is CPR and First Aide Certified.

Encore: What will you be working on this season with us?

Madaline: This season I will be working on projects for our youngest campers and students. My plan is to energize our current programs by re-designing our after school, mini and summer camps. With the collaboration of our Executive Director Sara Strehle Duke, there is a strong possibility that we may create a new program for Encore.

What are you looking forward to this season with Encore?
Madaline: We have so many ideals…I can’t wait until they become a reality.

Encore: You are a creative artist! What inspires your ideas for theatre games, lesson plans, etc?
Madaline: I have many sources of inspiration. I always prepare when I go into a classroom. At the first meeting, I spend time getting to know the children. Based on our conversation ideals begin to flow like a river. I capture my thoughts and then input them into the lesson plan, so that everyone grows and has a wonderful experience.

Encore: What do you enjoy most about working at Encore Stage & Studio?

Madaline: I enjoy working with children, the Encore staff is awesome, the board is supportive and I am allowed the privilege of being creative. I thank the Lord daily for the wonderful people he has placed in my life.

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We are so fortunate to have Madaline Langston join our administrative staff! Be sure to sign up for It’s Elementary this summer, running June 27 through September 2. Click here to enroll today!
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Encore offers Job Opportunities for Summer 2016

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Work for Encore Stage & Studio! Encore offers paid summer internships, development and teaching positions as well as camp aides positions for high school students.

Opportunities include:
-Arts Management Intern
-Dance Teachers
-Development Manager
-Education Intern
-It’s Elementary Teaching Artists
-Scenes For Tweens Teaching Artists
-Production Stage Manager

Opportunities for High School students include:
-Summer Camp Aides
-In Season Stage Manager

Ahoy! Join us for the Pirate Party | Feb. 27, 2016

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Join us for this special event featuring treats, arts and crafts, stage combat demonstrations and a chance to meet your favorite pirates!

Saturday, February 27, 2016
Pirate Party takes place immediately after the 11am Treasure Island performance.
Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre (125 S. Old Glebe Rd. Arlington, VA 22204)

Tickets: $20 | Ticket admits one. 11 am performance of Treasure Island is sold separately. Click here to purchase your tickets today!

Exec Director Sara Duke is Chosen as an Honoree of Leadership Arlington’s Forty Under 40!


We are delighted to share exciting news! Encore Stage & Studio’s Executive Director, Sara Duke, has been chosen as an honoree of Leadership Arlington’s Forty Under 40! Today, December 4, 2015, Leadership Arlington celebrates the 40 impressive trailblazers in the 2015 Forty Under 40 honorees at the Army Navy Country Club. Forty Under 40 is an initiative that builds social and intellectual capital for the DC metro community amongst this leadership group as they move into key decision making positions. The under-40 demographic represents a large segment of the area’s population. Leadership Arlington and the community as a whole have the responsibility to empower and celebrate this civically-minded, future leadership. We are proud to honor our Executive Director, a remarkable leader and a great contributor to the youth’s performing arts in Arlington! Congratulations Sara Duke!

“I am so happy that Sara was awarded this honor,” Encore Board member Jerry Gidner stated, “she has not only transformed Encore Stage and Studio, but the world of children’s theater in Northern Virginia. I can’t wait to see where she leads Encore next.”