October 10, 2014
While homecoming and pep rallies roll around, there’s more than just Halloween and school spirit in the air! Meet an Encore alum who continues to share her Encore spirit beyond the stage and has inspired our #RepYourShow social movement!
Meet the stellar and fabulous Nora Huston:
Nora: I am a student at Christopher Newport University and plan to graduate in 2017 with a double major in Communications and Business with a Marketing concentration. I am the sophomore class president and sister of the Lambda Epsilon chapter of Phi Mu.
Encore: How did you first hear about Encore Stage & Studio?
Nora: When I was in middle school at St. Ann’s, I had friends that attended the Summer program, “Stage Door.”
Encore: What was your first Encore involvement and can you describe your experience?
Nora: My friends encouraged me to try out and my first show was The Little Mermaid in the winter of 2008-09. I was in eighth grade and loved every second of the experience. Working with Sara Duke as my director was amazing; she was so passionate about every practice and taught me so much about theater and being apart of Encore. I was one of “Anemone’s” (Ariel’s) sisters, Sandy. This was my first time dancing and singing with a big group and inspired me to dance and sing more in high school.
Encore: What is your most memorable experience at Encore?
Nora: The summer between my junior and senior year at McLean High School, I was given the opportunity to Stage Manage for Pirates of Penzance. I was able to work with director Evan Hoffman, musical director Doug Ullman, as well as Chris Sizemore and Erin Driscoll. Working with professional actors was a new experience for me, but for Encore as well, which made it more fun.
Encore: Can you list other Encore productions or classes you have been involved in?
1) The Little Mermaid (Sandy)
2) Jungle Book (Nakooma)
3) Beauty and the Beast (Tech)
4) Princess and the Magic Pea (Princess Mary)
5) Velveteen Rabbit (Tech)
6) Anything Goes (Tech)
7) Hansel & Gretel (Tech)
8) Best Haunted House (Tech)
9) Brothers Grimm (Tech)
10) Wax Museum (Tech)
11) Pirates of Penzance (Stage Manager)
12) Legally Blonde the Musical (Tech)
Encore: What is your all time favorite Encore production you’ve participated in?
Nora: Working for Anything Goes was hands-down the most crazy and enjoyable summer I’ve had with Encore. I took the metro bus to the set-shop almost every day in June and July to help build the Anything Goes’ set. I learned so much about set design, painting techniques and set dressing. I was also able to be in the ensemble as a sailor while also working lights.
Encore: What motivated you to stay involved with Encore after so many years?
Nora: I’ve met some of my best friends at Encore. One example is Walter Lohmann; Encore insiders know we are practically connected at the hip during shows, but we never went to the same school and I would have never known him without Encore.
Encore: What skills or lessons have you learned from your time at Encore and how have you used them in other areas at your University or beyond?
Nora: Through working with Encore, I have learned how to work with professionals, how to problem solve and how to stay organized throughout a project. I was really pushed to be the best leader I could be through responsibilities that Encore gave me during shows.
Encore: Do you have any advice for students interested in auditioning for cast or crew?
Nora: Don’t be afraid to audition. If I could do it all over again, I would only audition years earlier in order to experience more. With that being said, if you don’t make it into the show after your first audition, DON’T STOP TRYING! Encore sees so much potential in every actor and sometimes just doesn’t have the right roll for you at that moment.
Encore: What are you most proud of as being an Encore alum?
Nora: I am proud to be an Encore alum because when I went to my first show at Encore I was a little kid at a birthday party, now I can say I was a part of that- that I had the opportunity to inspire other kids to discover the world of theater by kids, for kids. Encore has done so much for me and as an alum I can, once again, pay it forward.
Thanks Nora for your time to share about your Encore experience! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!
Nora definitely has Encore Spirit, so we challenge YOU to show off yours! Encore Spirit Week begins October 20 – 24, participate all week for a chance to win two tickets for each show of our 2014/2015 season! Here are the rules:
Dress up in our theme days and be sure to take a photo using the hashtags: #encorespirit and #encorestageandstudio on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (Tag or Mention @EncoreArlington as well so we can see your submissions!) Those who dress up all days will be entered in a raffle for a chance to win 2 season subscriptions.
Monday, October 20: “Rep Your Show” – Wear your Encore T-shirt or take an Encore inspired photo (with our poster, brochure, etc!)
Tuesday, October 21: “Tech Appreciation” Day – Wear all black just like our crew!
Wednesday, October 22 “Animation” Day – Dress up as your favorite character–it can be from a play, book or movie!
Thursday, October 23: “Scavenger Hunt” Day – Take a photo with either one of the following: a pumpkin, a tea cup, a feathered hat, something green or the number 48 (for our 48th season!).
Friday, October 24: “Seasons Day” – Wear an outfit that represents all 5 shows this year! Be creative.
Ready, Set, #RepYourShow and Share Your #EncoreSpirit!
Photos by Larry McClemons, Blog Contributor: Nora Huston
- September 26, 2014
Here’s a trade secret for curious theater-goers: if you want to know anything–or everything–about a production, the stage manager is the person to talk to. The stage manager is the member of the technical production team who is responsible for keeping track of the actors and members of the technical, knowing every cue, line, and corner of the performance space, and making sure the show runs smoothly once it reaches the stage. In short, they really know their stuff! Very rarely do patrons of Encore Stage & Studio productions have the pleasure of chatting with a stage manager–not surprising when they have such a big job to do– but we were able to snag an interview with the stage manager of our current production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Perry Kaufman.
Perry Kaufman is a senior at Yorktown High School and has been involved with Encore since he was 9 years old. He earned his Star Award in 2011 and has stage managed productions of The Hobbit and The Twelve Dancing Princesses. When asked to write his bio and provide a little more information about himself, this is what he told us:
Perry is “a Serbian native and moved to the United States at age ten. His motivation for leaving Serbia and settling in America was largely in part to a lost friend which he discovered in the Russian wilderness while hunting. Unbeknownst to Perry, his family found the child’s behavior peculiar and sent the poor boy to America so that he would not have a negative impact on their son. Perry has made it his life’s mission to find this boy and repay him for his families mistake. But in the meantime, Encore has kept his busy while he is on the chase.”
Perry clearly has an imagination and is one for laughs, but with all jokes aside, we got to know the real Perry, one that is a real team player and understands the meaning of responsibility and time management.
Encore: What productions and programs have you been involved with Encore?
Perry: I have been involved with Encore since I was 9. I started with the summer camp Stage Door and then did the show The Frog Prince that fall. I remember playing a frog and the assistant to the villain bunny. I recall playing a lot of leap frog on stage and attempting to do karate. Since then I think I have done cast six other times, and tech a lot more, I’ve lost count by now. But most recently I was on tech for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Triton in The Little Mermaid, and Sir Studley in Once Upon a Mattress.
P: Honestly, each show has its own memorable moments and it’s hard to compare them to one another. Because there is a different cast and crew for every show, I have learned to appreciate each special moment. One moment that comes to mind now happened during The Hobbit. It was a live show and the first scene had just finished, so the stage was completely dark. I remember there being a loud, shattering noise, and then someone told me that Gandalf had accidently slammed his staff against the wall and glass was all over the stage. We then had to sweep the stage during the blackout to clean all the glass and continue the show. Thankfully, we cleaned up all the glass, or at least no one stepped on any, and the rest of the show went smoothly.
E: What do you enjoy most about working on the crew?
P: Crew is different from cast because there is only a week to prepare for the show. I love it because over the span of two weeks the crew forms a close friendship. Their role is to make the cast members look good. They are also unseen. They walk around wearing all black in the dark, which gives me all the more reason to do it.
E: How did your experience on crew and cast prepare you for your stage manager position?
P: The biggest thing that prepared me for stage managing was observing the other stage managers I worked under while on tech. Watching what they did gave me an idea of how I would stage manage. Also, just the experience of doing so many shows helped me be familiar with Encore productions. I already knew how shows came together and what needed to be done so that they were ready for performances. Because of this, I was familiar with the stage managers role and duty before I stepped into the position.
E: With your extracurricular activities, how do you balance time for theater?
P: Encore productions are on the top of my list for extracurricular activities, so I balance my schedule around them. For instance this past spring I had to balance school, stage managing and varsity tennis at Yorktown, which was a challenge. I was able to balance all three by talking to my coaches and teachers to make sure I could handle everything. So, I’d say the most important thing about making time for extracurriculars is communication. People are always understanding if you tell them your schedule ahead of time, and they are willing to work things out. My coaches and teachers appreciated that I told them the stress I was under, and were more than willing to not only work with me, but to also come see the show.
We thank Perry Kaufman for sharing his Encore journey! Time management definitely involves prioritizing and good communication, and we hope his experience can help you as you manage your time for the things you love as well!
If you are interested in becoming a member of the technical team during our current season, visit our auditions page for a crew audition form. For a stage manager application for 2015/2016, visit our opportunities page for more details.
Be sure to buy your tickets to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow playing November 7-16 at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for children, students, military and seniors. Click here to buy your tickets online.
Blog contributor: Madeline Pages, Photos by Larry McClemons and Catherine Schreiber
- 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?
Lauren: 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.
Encore: What are some of your school involvements and activities outside of theatre?
Lauren: 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?
Lauren: 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.
Encore: How has Encore impacted your life beyond the stage?
Lauren: 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)?
Lauren: 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?
Lauren: 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.
Encore: What was it like to work with Doug Ullman and Kelsey Meiklejohn? How did you enjoy their styles of teaching?
Lauren: 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.
Encore: What made you stick to the program for all these years?
Lauren: 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?
Lauren: 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?
Lauren: 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?
Lauren: 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)
Photos by Clarence Chan, Larry McClemons, Aileen Pangan and Caroline Schreiber