Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

New Disney+ show Encore! Features SDSU performers

TTF students experience the world of reality television and a behind-the-scenes look at professional musical theatre

by PSFA Stories Team

November 5, 2019

Tune into the Disney+ channel on November 12 to see SDSU School of Theatre, Television, and Film (TTF) students and faculty perform in the inaugural episode of Encore!

Movie actress Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Frozen) hosts a reality TV show that reunites cast members from high school musical productions to recreate their roles in a week-long rehearsal process featuring a Broadway creative team. This team features TTF faculty member Robert Meffe in an on-camera role as assistant music director and pianist alongside Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom-Dodge (Ragtime) and music director Adam Wachter (Broadway’s War Paint, Allegiance, Finding Neverland). Two MFA Musical Theatre graduate students, Lauren Haughton-Gillis and Shayne Mims round out the cast of former high school colleagues, lending their professional experience to the filmed stage production.

The television show will start streaming on November 12, 2019, with a national and international release on Disney’s new channel Disney+. 1.848 million viewers saw the pilot episode in December 2017, and Disney anticipates that the viewer number will grow.

Kristen Bell describes the impact of this show like this:

“I wanted to produce Encore! to help others relive their days on stage and rediscover the distinct bonding that only happens in high school. This is something that brings everyone together in a way we need right now. We are currently in a world that is very divided…. I would love to give people the opportunity to reunite with some of their high school companions on the stage and rediscover themselves. It’s a self-esteem-building exercise for all of us. Our show is about converging past dreams with present circumstances,” says Bell, “I hope viewers can laugh and see themselves among the sheriff, kindergarten teacher, wedding planner and the rest of their former classmates as they tackle these iconic musicals.”

Over a week in January 2019, the students, cast, creative team, and an army of television producers descended on Vista, California to rehearse and perform Annie for a sold out performance of family and friends, with cameras in every room to record every challenge and every triumph. This experience provided students with a real behind-the-scenes look at professional musical theatre as well as the exciting world of reality television.

Faculty member, Robert Meffe, says, “Musical theater is about more than the production of a show that the audience sees. It is about a community and the ties that bind creative people together.”

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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