You might be surprised who did theatre in high school. Theatre performance can be an outlet for so many reasons, especially during the struggles of high school. It is a place to find talent, find yourself, make friends, build a community. Sometimes it starts a lifelong career; other times, it’s a brief moment in a long life that takes a much different path. One of 12 original series to roll out with Disney+ on November 12 is Encore!, which reunites groups of high school castmates years later to recreate their musical experience, and maybe rediscover something about their younger selves. Encore! is a very different high school musical.
The show was co-created by Kristen Bell, who acts as host and Executive Producer. If you know her work, you’re probably a fan. She’s the bubbly next-door neighbor, a mom who does goofy things, a woman who cries at cute animals, and loses her crap most adorably when she meets Lin Manuel Miranda. Between the return of season 4 of The Good Place, the reboot of Veronica Mars, and the upcoming Frozen 2, her wacky enthusiasm is everywhere right now. She’s quirky and funny and might be one of the few people for whom the word endearing applies without sounding saccharine. So it’s no surprise that her enthusiasm is behind a show that is equally heart-warming and silly.
What is Encore!
In the first episode of Encore!, eight members of the original 1996 Santana High School production of Annie come together in Southern California. The star-studded cast includes a former wallflower warehouse manager with a big heart and a secret love of musicals. There are stay-at-home moms and teachers rediscovering high school glory and lost friendships. We meet a Deputy Sheriff whose high school time was overshadowed by illness; a high school teacher who struggled with coming out in his student years; and an “Annie” who put aside her Broadway dreams to move home and have a family.
With just five days to prepare, the cast is pressed to relearn songs and steps with the help of Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge (2009 revival of Ragtime), and professional creative and artists. Joined a chorus of professional singers and dancers (as well as their original high school director), the eight new-old friends will mount a one-night-only performance of Annie complete with costumes, sets, and fresh perspectives.
The reality series isn’t hard-hitting or cynical, rather a warm and direct look at how we change after high school, and how creative outlets like theatre might have helped us through those potentially tricky years. Whether they are rediscovering the highs of being Homecoming Queen or conquering buried pain, Encore! is simply a charming show that makes you smile as you go on the journey with the cast. Upcoming episodes in the first season will revisit school productions of Beauty and the Beast, Oklahoma!, and Anything Goes taking on their “encore” performance.
How to watch Encore!
Encore! is part of the new Disney+ streaming service that launched November 12. The subscription costs $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year. A subscription allows for unlimited downloads of content to up to 10 devices for viewing offline, and the ability to stream on four different devices simultaneously.
Disney+ is available on mobile devices (iOS and Androids); desktop computers; PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gaming consoles; Roku; Apple TV; smart TVs such as LG, Samsung, and Android TVs; and Chromebook, Chromecast, Apple AirPlay, and Amazon FireTV. Check our guide to Disney+ for more details.
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