Remembering Marji Jepperson
We are sad to share the passing of Marji Jepperson, a former Encore director and actor, props master and dear member of our Encore family. She brought tremendous joy to working with the children of our organization for almost 20 years. We’re delighted to share some of the many memories of Marji from our Encore family:
Seussical was the first show I did with Encore and Marji was the director. I was so excited to be in the show but at the same time such a shy little 15 year old. It was my first time performing in such a big theatrical performance and I wasn’t the most outgoing at that time. Susan still tells stories of how shy I was then compared to how much I have grown out of my shell now! But Marji saw something in me, hence choosing me to be in the performance, which was my first step to becoming part of the Encore family which I love so dearly, so for that I am forever grateful! Marji asked me to be the dance captain for Godspell the following year because she remembered my dancing in Seussical, which made me so excited because I thought I was just a quiet little nobody then! She was always so happy to see everyone at rehearsal and supported each show by making her own show sweatshirt. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work on the production side with her in a number of shows, most closely in Cinderella where she directed and I choreographed. Marji was such a sweet soul, kind to all and always with a gentle way about her!
I met Marji many many years ago through Encore (when it was still The Children’s Theatre). She was funny, creative, always cheerful. I worked with her on more shows than I can remember, when we were both designers and when she was the director. Her props were always inventive (and glitzy!) More importantly, she guided both my children through multiple productions, encouraging them, teaching them skills they still use today, mentoring them. She was unfailingly kind. When her health problems became more significant, she did not complain but kept working her magic. I am sure it took a lot out of her but she seemed indefatigable. My daughter describes her as always loving and filled with joy. Her customized bags and shirts for every show- such a fun spirit. She was a trouper. She is tremendously missed.
Our Marji memory is her warmth and her kindness, along with her custom sweatshirts for every show!
-The Meek family
My favorite Marji memory is that whenever we came into rehearsal for Once Upon A Mattress she was happy to be there and thrilled to see us. She obviously loved the rehearsal process and building a show and her passion rubbed off on the cast.
Marji Jepperson directed shows for many Encore seasons including Darius the Dragon and Rap-Punzel (2012), Honk! Jr. (2013), and Once Upon a Mattress (2014)
I deeply enjoyed getting to know Marji Jepperson over the past 10 years. She had a gift for working with children and knew how to create a warm and welcoming environment where they could express themselves. I will miss her wonderful smile, patient soul and fantastic sweatshirts. Thank you for the lasting impact you had on our organization Marji!
-Sara Strehle Duke
While lighting nearly 30 shows for Encore, I have had the pleasure of working with Marji in many of her capacities: Director, props maven, choreographer, actor, kid wrangler, friend & mother (to name a few). She was smart, funny, occasionally a bit crusty, wise, courageous, talented, kind and my pal. She is and will be missed.
Marji has been a Rockstar for Encore. I have been with Encore for years as a independent contractor and even though our paths did not cross as often as I would have liked, I had always heard of her great work and what a great person she was and how easy it is to work this. As I became full time with the organization and had the pleasure of speaking with her. At the first moment of meeting her I was able to understand why she was so beloved.
I remember how much each cast meant to Marji. I think each subsequent cast became her favorite one. I also remember how much she wanted to protect the props. I’m very thankful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a member of one of her casts.
It was always such a joy to see Marji at the theatre, from directing shows, to seeing her fabulous props and set dressing, and just her presence on opening weekends in her amazing show sweaters. She is the definition of Encore spirit. Thank you for your inspiring creativity, joyful spirit and kindness.
Marji created the beautiful props and set dressing for many shows including:
On my first day at Encore, I was introduced to Marji and Kristen as the “mother daughter dream team.” I don’t believe I’ll ever think of them any other way. It was inspiring to see a mother and daughter working so well together. It always brought a smile to my face to see Marji at the theatre. She exuded positive energy and her laugh was infectious. She was such a creative soul from crafting so many imaginative props to her personalized show sweaters. I’ll always think of Marji wearing one of her sweaters smiling in the back of a theatre seeing her work onstage.
Marji Jepperson’s round cheeked, sparkle-eyed, angelic face appeared to me to be fairy godmother-like. Unruffled, unflappable, a benign countenance that seem to say, “I have seen everything and done everything in theater, and whatever new crisis is or will be upon us, I will handle.”
I can see her churning butter during Oklahoma’s, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”; herding recalcitrant teens in West Side Story; hauling enough Cat in the Hat dolls (from the Dollar Store!) to hang across the whole proscenium for the first Seussical. She loaned books, toys, and a portrait of Queen Victoria for the display window. Her creative hand will be missed everywhere.
We will be celebrating her life and legacy tonight on Monday, January 29 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Encore’s Offices (St. Andrews Episcopal Church 4000 Lorcom Lane Arlington, VA 22207). The program will begin at 7:00 pm. All are welcome.
Photos by Larry McClemons, Madeline Pages and Aileen Pangan