New Season, New Staff, New Show, and MORE!
Washtenaw County, Michigan – September 7, 2022
The Encore Musical Theatre Company has entered another phase of exciting growth. It’s not just the comfy new chairs that arrived this summer, or the completion of the concessions bar, the Tiny Dancer, that herald continuing change. Dexter Michigan’s non-profit professional theatre company, which opened the doors to their new, historic Copeland home just over a year ago, begins a new season with several crucial hires to facilitate their rapid growth.
Most visible are the Broadway vets who will be helming each of this seasons’ shows. From directors to choreographers to recent headliners, they fulfill part of The Encore’s mission to bring a bit of Broadway to Dexter. Danny Gardner, who was last seen on The Encore’s Maas stage as Lon Chaney in the world premiere of A Thousand Faces will return to choreograph A Christmas Story The Musical. Directing the production will be Broadway veteran and Encore’s Artistic Director, Dan Cooney, and, making it a family affair, the production will star his wife, Broadway alumn, Jessica Grové (Mother) and children Gavin Cooney (Ralphie) and Lolly Cooney (Ensemble).
Among the new staff hires joining The Encore team is Technical Director, Sarah Tanner. Tanner’s impressive scenic designs have been seen on The Encore stage for years, most recently in last season’s opener, Smokey Joe’s Café, Always Patsy Cline, and this summer’s sold-out hit, Mamma Mia! Currently part of the Properties Department at The University of Michigan, Tanner joins The Encore staff this fall.
The company has also added Patron and Volunteer Coordinator, Chelsea Kearns, from University of Michigan, and appointed a resident Casting Director, Dayle Ann Hunt. Jessica Grové, who stepped in as interim Marketing Director last year, has taken on the position full time.
On another exciting front, former Managing Director, Jason Briggs, a recent Actors Equity member, has stepped down from The Encore staff to pursue a full-time career in performing. Briggs previously graced The Encore stage in Smokey Joe’s Café as well as multiple concerts including Tribute: Queen, Tribute: Stevie Wonder, Modern Jazz Meets Musical Theatre and Broadway Rocks.
“We are grateful for the work Jason has done over the past year, both on and off our stage,” says Artistic Director, Dan Cooney. “We fully support Jason’s decision and look forward to continuing to work together.” Briggs will be back on The Encore stage in January, both as director and performer, in Stairway to Heaven: A Tribute to Classic Rock.
Growth brings many challenges as well, some of which have led to this winter’s planned Dreamgirls production being pushed to a later season. In its place, however, will be the highly theatrical Ahrens and Flaherty musical, Once on This Island, a Caribbean-set retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Little Mermaid. Natalie Kay Clater, who just came off the first national tour of Hamilton, will be coming to Dexter to direct and choreograph this exciting show. Co-sponsors for this production include Stephen and Marci Feinberg, and producer Judith Manocherian who took home a Tony for the 2018 Broadway revival.
If you want to know more about the exciting things happening at The Encore Musical Theatre Company, check out their website at www.theencoretheatre.org.