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2014 Sunny Side Up Benefit Breakfast

      April 17, 2014

      Last Tuesday, April 8, 2014, friends and supporters celebrated together in honor of Encore Stage & Studio’s 47 years of Theatre by Kids, for Kids. With great food and good company in the beautiful ballroom of the Washington Golf & Country Club, benefactors enjoyed an entertaining program hosted by Encore Board of Directors Secretary, Ashby Rushing, while learning about Encore’s great accomplishments and vision.

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      During the program, high school seniors Walter Lohmann and Lauren Monsivaiz shared their Encore journey, reflecting on their personal growth from the impact of the organization.


      “Every person at every step of the way has helped me get where I’m going in my journey…”
      stated Walter Lohmann.


      “It opens up a world of opportunity: confidence, people skills and leadership…”
      stated Lauren Monsivaiz.

      Followed by their testimonials was an exciting number performed by Encore’s Musical Theatre Intensive class, “New York, New York” from the musical, On The Town. This exciting and challenging program is offered to students grade 8 through 12 and is designed to put vocal and dance skills into action. Students work once a week with choreographer Kelsey Meiklejohn and Music Director Douglas Ullman, Jr. to sharpen their musical skills both in the classroom and onstage.

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event
      Encore Stage & Studio also honored Robin Baxter with the 2014 Celeste Award for outstanding volunteer. Robin Baxter served as Board President from 2006-2009 and as a Volunteer Executive Director 2009-2010, and is currently a member of Encore’s Programing Committee. Robin’s early life was enriched and formed by children’s theater participation, beginning with playing “Widget” the elf in The Elves and the Shoemaker in community children’s theater here in Northern Virginia. Through three other community and children’s theater productions, and then in high school (Madison, in Vienna) joining Thespians and playing Anne Frank (in The Diary of Anne Frank) and Puck (in Midsummer Night’s Dream), Robin learned all the great things that Encore provides its participants: teamwork, confidence, literacy, public speaking, history, culture… the list goes on.

      During her time as President of the Encore Board, Robin and a great team of officers, board and staff members contributed in achieving the following accomplishments:

      - Development/increased public support

      - Educational opportunities for Board and Staff

      - Moved Board towards Governing Board from Working Board

      - Development of Strategic Planning

      - Celebrated 40th Anniversary of Encore

      - Procured & produced original drama, The Jamestown Adventure

      - Modernized Bookkeeping & began process to hire professional bookkeeper

      - Increased offerings of programs

      - Result: Passed along a much healthier Encore to the next generation of leaders!

      Ashby continued to share the accomplishments from Encore’s 2013/2014 season and the impact of donations for our programs:
      -Since September: 9,179 people have seen an Encore production!
      -Encore’s new partnership with Nauck Community Services Center in South Arlington, dedicated spaces for these students for camps and classes, as well as tickets for productions and a backstage tour
      -Encore is on track to work with PTAs to donation 500 tickets to low income students at schools in Arlington this year alone–an approximate cost of $4,000.
      -200 children and youth have participated in our productions this year – at no cost to them. Our productions typically cost about $30,000. Ticket sales only cover approximately 45% of this cost. We rely on donations to cover this gap.

      Check out the video highlighting some of Encore’s 2014 seniors:

      2014 Encore Seniors from Encore Stage on Vimeo.

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event
      Meanwhile, our guests traveled back in time to our fall production of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe with Encore participants Isabel Tate and Laura Wade as Lucy Pevensie and Mr.Tumnus, performing a short scene recognizing Encore’s programs and how to donate.

      “Oh, Mr. Tumnus, I think all of Narnia will want to donate to an organization this great.” -Lucy
      “You know, Lucy, I think even the White Witch might be convinced to get involved.” -Mr. Tumnus

      Thank you for supporting Encore Stage & Studio. Click here to donate today.

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      Encore Stage Breakfast Event

      View more photos from the 2014 breakfast:


      Photos by Larry McClemons.

      2014 Encore Seniors Share Their Experience

      Category: Slider Categories · Tags:

      Sunny Side Up, Coming Right Up!

          April 4, 2014

          Spring has finally sprung and we are more than thrilled for the upcoming sunshine! It’s also time for Encore Stage & Studio’s annual Sunny Side Up Benefit Breakfast! This Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the Washington Golf & Country Club, Encore Stage & Studio will be celebrating 47 years of Theatre By Kids, For Kids! The Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a special program featuring Encore participants and a special performance by Encore’s Musical Theatre Intensive class. We’re pleased to present the Celeste Groves Award to Robin Baxter for outstanding volunteer. We’re excited to share with the community our latest programs and our great history!

          breakfast slider 20141

          Here are 5 reasons to donate to Encore Stage & Studio!

          Top 5 Reasons to Donate to Encore! from Encore Stage on Vimeo.

          Can’t make it to the Breakfast this year? Share our organization with your friends and click here to make a meaningful donation.

          Click here to read about last year’s breakfast, hosted by Helen Hayes Award-Winning Actress Erin Driscoll, with special remarks from Mark Longo, Chair, Arlington Commission for the Arts and Encore Stage & Studio participants.

          breakfast attend

          Thank you for supporting our programs and we hope to see you at the breakfast!

          Photos taken by Larry McClemons.

          Home Sweet Encore: Meet Olivia Hammermaster

              March 28, 2014

              Olivia Hammermaster - Crew

              Stage Managers are responsible for assisting all production staff and is an essential link for the cast and crew. From beginning to end, the stage manager is involved in the entire production process. Meet one of our 2013 STAR Award recipients and stage manager from Encore’s most recent production, The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes: Olivia Hammermaster. Always with positive attitude, this high school sophomore shares the joy of stage managing and being apart of a home away from home.

              Encore:Your first show with Encore Stage & Studio was Robin Hood (2011). Why did you decide to audition and what brings you back to Encore?

              Olivia: I decided to audition for Robin Hood because I had a friend at the time who was very involved with Encore. He convinced me to audition, and soon with one show, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving any time soon. I signed for crew for the very next show, Darius the Dragon and Rap-Punzel.

              Encore: Can you describe your experience as stage manager for The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes?

              Olivia: It’s been a lot of fun stage managing Sherlock. Since this is my ninth show, I’ve done four on cast and four on crew, and it’s really cool to see a different side of Encore. I get the opportunity to work and bond with both cast and crew for the entire show.

              The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes

              Encore: What do you enjoy most about working on crew?

              Olivia: I love being up in the booth during shows and being able to monitor the cast and crew. The headsets allow us to communicate with almost everyone and we get a great view during the show!

              Encore: The show involves mystery and chaos, what do you like most about this show and do you yourself enjoy mysteries?

              Olivia: I have always loved mysteries. As a kid, I would go to the library and check out about six Nancy Drew books to read during the week. My favorite part of Sherlock is seeing all the humor worked into the mystery. A lot of the characters have little quirks that they’ve all been playing up. It’s not only interesting because of the mystery, but hilarious because of the humor.

              Encore: What was your favorite role to play and why?

              Olivia I’ve really enjoyed all the characters I’ve played, but I think my favorite was Oin, a dwarf in The Hobbit. Even with a smaller role, I did the most acting I ever have. My director, Susan Keady, taught me so much and really helped me learn about my acting abilities. She taught me one of the most important lessons in theatre: the smaller roles are often more fun to play than the leads because you can develop your character to your heart’s content, since a lesser known role doesn’t have strict rules to abide by.

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              “Encore is like a second home to me…”

              Encore: How has your involvement with Encore influenced you beyond the theatre?

              Olivia: Encore has changed me as a person. As cheesy as it is, Encore is like a second home to me. I always joke about living in the basement of TJ. Tech week is my favorite part of the show and results in me being happier in general, not just tired and stressed out.

              Encore: What is your most memorable experience with Encore?

              Olivia: Actually, during the second Sherlock show, the sound system went out right in the middle of the first act. All of us up in the booth were leaning back and relaxing, just watching the show when all of a sudden we realized our headsets were dead silent. We soon found out not only our headsets but also the sound board were dead. One ASM ran upstairs to talk to us, but the sound ended up working after about five minutes anyway. It was probably the most stressful five minutes of my entire life.
              Encore: Any advice for future stage managers?

              Olivia: My only advice to future stage managers is to remain calm. I was told countless times that I would freak and be completely stressed out, but that never hit me. It’s important to know what’s going on, but to not let the pressure get to you. Let loose and enjoy the show!

              Thanks Olivia for sharing your Encore experience! We hope you’ll continue your theater journey with us.

              Interested in being a stage manager for the 2014/2015 season? Click here to learn more.

              Olivia was involved in the following productions:


              Photos by Larry McClemons

              Meet Our Partners in Crime: Marji & Kristen Jepperson

                  March 5, 2014

                  Our winter production of The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes is off to a great start! Encore Stage & Studio had a fantastic opening weekend with over 1,000 patrons who came to see this fun and comical mystery show, starring the famous partners in crime, Dr. Watson and Detective Sherlock Holmes. Watson and Holmes are one great team, but we have a stellar pair and our own partners in crime behind the scenes we’d love for you to meet: Director Marji Jepperson and Technical Director Kristen Jepperson (or as we’d like to call, the mother-daughter dream team!).

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes
                  Marji Jepperson, Director for the show and Props and Set Dressing Designer for our season, has been active in theater all of her life. Marji has worked in theater in both the DC area and in California as an actor, choreographer and director. As an actor, her favorite roles include: Aunt Eller in Oklahoma (Act III), Touchstone in As You Like It (Act III), Kate Keller in All My Sons (Great Falls Players), Aunt Martha in Arsenic and Old Lace, and Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady with various companies.

                  Kristen Jepperson, our Set Designer/Builder and Technical Director, is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, with a BFA in Harp Performance. Since graduation she has toured nationally as a member of the New Christy Minstrels and with Ragtime, the Musical (Emma Goldman). Theatrical credits include: Daisy, The Adding Machine, Studio Theater; Reno, Anything Goes, Olney Theater; Agnes Gooch, Mame, Toby’s of Columbia; Reverand Mother Mary Regina, Nunsense, Toby’s Baltimore. Costuming credits include: Rapunzel, Miss Electricity, the 25th…Spelling Bee at the Workhouse Theater; Pirates of Penzance, Legally Blonde, Encore Stage.

                  Encore: Marji, can you describe the rehearsal process, what our cast go through during rehearsal and what’s different during tech week?

                  Marji: After auditions which, of course, got delayed a week thanks to Old Man Winter, we spent the first rehearsal reading the show aloud. We do it Round Robin style, sitting in a circle, with each actor reading just the next line. We cast the show so that the kids could start looking at the script, and thinking about their character. During the break I asked them to to write a biography about their character. It was easier for the actors who only had one character, but I asked the patients to write about their real character, and what caused them to turn into their “grandiose delusion.” There is nothing in the script about this so it was pure imagination. And they did a terrific job! Then we started to block the play, one scene at a time. I asked them to memorize each scene after it is blocked so that we can work on more extensive blocking and character development, and work on relationships with the other characters. During rehearsals we also do improv scenes and games which are not only fun, but help develop acting skills and relationships with the other actors.

                  During tech week we have speed runs of lines, especially any spots that were troublesome, go over notes from the previous rehearsals. We got to do an entire run of the show on Monday night, first week of tech, which is unheard of usually (thanks awesome tech crew!) These first rehearsals are mostly for spacing since we have been rehearsing in much smaller classrooms. Then each night we add a new element – props, costumes, sound, lights, and make-up.

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes
                  Encore: Kristen, how would you describe tech week and the training for the technical crew?

                  Kristen: This one was so much easier than the last show (Little Mermaid Jr. with about a gazillion sets and scene changes!). Basically we spent time putting the set together then figuring out the timing on who would change what during the scene changes. Unfortunately, a lot of tech week ends up being a “hurry up and wait” kind of situation because there are so many aspects of the tech that don’t involve all of the people (lighting prep and design, arranging for sound, etc.) Even now that the show has opened, we still do a “dry tech” before each show, which is basically to do all the technical aspects of the show without the actors, just to refresh.

                  Encore: Marji: The show is about “the world’s greatest detective”, Sherlock Holmes. What do you think makes a mystery come to life and what do you enjoy about mystery theatre?

                  Marji: I love mysteries, they are my recreational reading. The puzzles are intriguing. Our play has several red herrings, which makes it that much more fun. Sunday, some people from the Sherlock Holmes society came to see the show. They really liked it, even though they were adults, they were well versed in Sherlockian lore.

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock HolmesEncore: Kristen, the set looks fantastic! What are some of your favorite set pieces and can you describe the process it took to design and build it?

                  Kristen: I knew that we would have a lot less stuff to build in this set, so it was fun to get to do a bunch of detail on this set that isn’t always possible. I consulted with my mom, who had very definite opinions about what she would like the set to look like, and took it from there. I was very proud of all the kids who helped me to build the set. The walls look like they have wallpaper, but each of those designs was actually stenciled in by hand by one of the kids! She has so much more patience than I do, and the time machine was built from many pieces of random stuff lying around including a day bed we got free from CraigsList. :-)

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes

                  Encore: As a mother-daughter team of Director and Technical Director, how do you like working together for this production? What have you learned from each other and do you have any favorite moments you’d like to share?

                  Marji: We love working together. It was fun to help develop the set as it went along, and having a good grasp on what it was going to be, and the floor plan. This script calls for the Time Machine to be off-stage, but neither of us wanted that. It’s the coolest thing, why wouldn’t we want to see it? We enjoy working together in the shop, which we basically do for all the shows. Sometimes it’s the only time we see each other during the week. It’s good to meld our ideas. I mostly only get to paint the boring stuff, and I’m not allowed to use power tools. She does a lot of the prep work at home, before we have shop hours (actually our house was full of blue tinsel for the longest time, for Little Mermaid‘s water curtain, and now we already have the chandelier for the upcoming show, The 12 Dancing Princesses). We are both creative people, but she thinks so entirely differently from me that I am just amazed.

                  Kristen: My mom is great to work with. She is communicative, has ideas, but is very willing to be flexible and collaborative. Some people might have trouble working with their mom because some moms like to keep themselves in the “I’m in charge” roll. But my mom and I have been able to work on a more equal footing, each respecting the other’s input.

                  About two or three years ago, I saw my mom making a prop for something. It was very intricate and involved and I asked her why she spent so much time and effort on something that the audience really wouldn’t see from a distance. She replied that she was doing it for the actors. That having props that were special lent a lot to what they did in the play. I’ve carried that with me ever since, and even though I know that the audience won’t be aware of some of the smaller things I’ve done with the set, I know that it will help the actors in the building of their characters. I’ve learned a bunch from my mum. :-)

                  Encore: You both make working as a team come naturally, which isn’t always the case for family members. Can you share with us your secret tips to working alongside your mother/daughter?

                  Marji: I don’t really have any tips, I’m afraid, it’s just always been that way. Of course we have differences of opinion, but if they’re technical she always wins!

                  Kristen: I think the thing that makes it easiest is that we both like and respect each others abilities. We have slightly different perspectives, so it is great to bounce ideas off of her. One of our favorite things to do (unrelated to theater, but indicative of how we work together) is pass a crossword puzzle back and forth, because with our different strengths we make a great team and that Sunday Post puzzle is toast!

                  Encore: What do you enjoy most about working for a theatre by kids, for kids?

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes

                  Marji: I enjoy working with kids because it is so incredibly rewarding. They get excited about every aspect of theatre, unlike many adults. I love, most of all, watching them evolve from children into actors with a professional attitude and performance.

                  Kristen: They are there because they want to be. I’ve been doing a lot of professional theater over the years, and it can get to the point where you treat it like a job. It is so nice to see so many young people who are just so excited to be a part of the theater.

                  Encore: Using just three words or phrases, what can our audiences look forward to when they come to the show?

                  Marji: That’s a hard one. I’d say ‘Sit back. Relax, and I know you’ll enjoy the show!’

                  Kristen: Intrigue, great characters and a Time Machine!

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes runs through March 9. Tickets are available online or call (703) 548-1154. Be sure to check out the trailer and enjoy the show!

                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes from Encore Stage on Vimeo.

                  Photos taken by Larry McClemons
                  The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes