Alison, age 16
I have been involved in theater nearly all my life and have many wonderful experiences and made a lot of great friends but it wasn't until I came to Encore that I found a true theater "home." Through Encore I have made friendships that I believe will last a lifetime. As I have grown as a performer, I have also been given the opportunity to teach others the skills I have spent a lifetime learning and through that I am developing leadership skills that will help me in all future career endeavors. My time at Encore has given me confidence, poise and a self-assurance to believe I can accomplish whatever goals I decide to set for myself. I'm so thankful to Ms. Summer and Marcelo for believing in me and for giving me so many wonderful opportunities.
Annika, Age 15
I have been with Encore since the beginning and will most likely be there until the end. Encore Entertainers is my whole life! Without it I have no idea where my life would be. The past two years have been a living nightmare for me and my family and myself, and the one thing that kept me from doing things that i would regret was my Encore family. They are always there for me not matter what happens. I canít imagine my life without them. Encore Entertainers is my whole world. Without it I would sit at home doing absolutely nothing! It definitely gets me up off my bum, to sing and dance, two of my favorite things. The one thing I look forward to all week is Saturday, the day that we all come together to rehearse. And even then we are all looking forward to when we actually get to perform on stage in front of all our adoring fans. Then tech week rolls around, and even though we all call it "hell week" we all have the time of our lives. After the first show, we are all looking forward to all the shows being over, but as soon as the last show is over we are all crying and wishing we could start again. That is when we get something new to look forward to... The next show! Seeing everyone on audition day after the many weeks of being apart is always a joy. There are not enough words or sheets of paper, in the whole world, to tell you how much Encore Entertainers means to me. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Bekah, age 18
I have always been interested in musical theatre. When my best friend Chris Truman told me there was a new theater company, I was eager to check it out. At the auditions for Encore's first show, Joseph..., I immediately felt like everyone had a fair shot at every role. I didn't feel like I had to be in a bunch of previous shows to get a lead role. Summer gave everyone an equal opportunity. It's extremely rare to find a company that does not base your placement in a show off of how long you've been around, but rather by your level of talent. As the years and shows progressed, I was impressed by how much Encore does not separate into cliques. Everyone is part of a big, happy, singing-dancing-acting, super awesome family that is always happy to welcome new faces. We help each other grow, whether by helping someone learn dance steps, run lines, or just being there for support in a role. The staff of every show is amazing, and are great mentors for young actors. Shows would not be possible without all the help of the "Encore Moms" and the entire Cacciagioni family. The experiences in Encore have shaped who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the family and friends I now have, and will have for the rest of my life.
Belle, age 16
Encore Entertainers has helped me in so many ways. One way is that it has helped me have more appreciation for theatre and the arts. I have grown to love it and want to learn more about it and make it a part of my life. Another thing that Encore has done for me is that is has helped me come out of my shell and become a better and more confident performer and teacher. Summer has helped me in so many ways and I’ve learned so much from her. Something else that I’m so thankful for is the opportunity to be on student staff and help other kids have the opportunity to learn and be a part of the arts. Teaching kids is one of my favorite things to do. Encore has also helped me also love doing backstage work and tech stuff. I love putting on microphones, painting and moving sets, pinning costumes and whatever else you can think of that needs to be done backstage so whenever I haven’t been able to do a show, I try my best to come and help as a techie. Encore is like my second family and I’m not sure what I would do without them. Thank you summer for making my life better through theatre!
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Carly, age 16
Before joining Encore, one would say I wasn't the most outgoing person. I was definitely an introvert. I tended to listen to conversations rather than join in. I was uncomfortable talking to people I didn’t already know. Some very good friends of mine who had been a part of Encore since the beginning practically begged me to join. They said I only had to do one show, and if I didn't like it, then I didn't have to come back. At auditions I was crazy nervous not knowing what I was getting myself into, but everyone was so kind and welcoming. They all made me feel as if I was already a part of this huge family they had created. You could say I was hooked from the start. I’ve now done three shows and worked back stage on a couple more. All the people in Encore have such a tight bond; there is nothing that could break us apart. With every show I do I witness the new members joining and I remember how I felt when I was the new kid. I try my best to encourage and embrace them with the same acceptance that I was shown. It is such a wonderful thing to be a part of something that is so positive. Each week I look forward to seeing everyone, and when we are in between shows it feels as if something is missing. Summer makes the environment so friendly and safe. Everyone knows it’s a place where not only can you be yourself but you are encouraged to be. Encore means so much to me, and I know I would not be the same person I am today if I hadn't become a part of such a wonderful, talented family.
I loved seeing Encore shows and I couldn't wait to be in one, too. After performing in a few shows, not only did I realize that I love acting, I also realized that I am truly a theater kid and not a movie theater kid.
It is very often in life that we make choices that will change our lives forever. However, almost never do we realize at the time that they will. I made a life-altering choice the freshman year of high school ñ I decided to give this up and coming production company, ENCORE Entertainers, a go. I had no idea that it would be part of the reason I am who I am today.
As I entered the lonely, scary world of public high school, I was feeling rather isolated. Having been dumped by previous group of friends from middle school, and not fitting into any of the old cliques from either middle school that entered high school the same day I did, I wasn’t exactly the most welcoming of experiences. I was lonely and angry (the typical freshman) and lost interest in many things.
However, my interest was sparked once more when I learned that there was a theater company doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! ñ a show I had grown up with, and only ever dreamed of seeing. Now, I had the opportunity to be in it.
Of course, I delayed the decision considerably. I was petrified of the idea of trying theater. I had done a show once before, but for some reason, this seemed much more professional and much harder. So, I dilly-dallied to the very last moment on whether or not I would do the show.
My mother called Summer the day before auditions were supposed to happen, and asked if my sister and I could come audition. When she said yes, my blood froze, but my heart leapt. It was a day of many (and usually mutually exclusive) emotions.
However, I never looked back after the first day of auditions.
Being a part of ENCORE has made me the person I am today. Before this company, I was a frightened, shy introvert. Now, it seems I talk entirely too much. But for the first time, I have friends that will put up with that chatter. Another truly amazing thing about my part in this company is that I found my passion in life. I am totally hooked on theater ñ I have never felt such a strong connection to anything before in my life. Theater was never a part of my life until this company, and now it will never leave, which is truly a great blessing.
The thing about my passion is, however, that it is many-sided. That comes from having the opportunity to be on Encoreís Student Staff. When Summer pitched me the idea, I thought my job was mostly going to be moral support and child wrangling. That was all right with me, however, since it seemed that every single kid that did shows with us was amazing. However, it soon became apparent that I would be doing much more. I helped to teach, to block, and eventually, when the summer camp rolled around, to direct. I learned about all the work that goes into being the director, and also quite a bit about the technical aspect of theater. I absolutely reveled in it, and couldnít wait to sign up for a second year.
However, hands down, the best part of being a part of the ENCORE is my new-found family. The people that became a part of my life here, I know will remain in my heart forever. Never before have I ever felt so at home anywhere outside of my actual home. Not only has Summer opened her arms and her heart to me, Marcelo made me smile on the darkest of days, and Jen's been all around fabulous, but also, the students I am surrounded by are responsible for so many things in my life. I walked in scared ñ I’ll walk out knowing that I am loved by people that I can’t actually fathom not knowing now, and part of something so much greater than myself. A family that I hope will continue to grow for many years to come, and one I know I’ll be sticking around for as long as possible.
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DeAna, age 13
Les Misérables, Summer 1010, was my first production with Encore Entertainers. I had been introduced to theater in Summer 2009, where my life started shifting but it wasn't until Les Mis that my life had shifted for good. When I heard that Les Misérables was coming up I was so excited and made sure I would be put in it. Being still somewhat quiet, I auditioned with a barely hearable voice and hoped I would be accepted. I knew I was going to get ensemble and gladly accepted it in my heart. By the second rehearsal, I had already made so many friends I was so overwhelmed with what a Family can do to change someone's life. I grew a lot as a person just with hanging around the Encore family for a few months. I would walk to my car every rehearsal happy, thinking of all the friends I made. Soon I lost track there were so many. By the first show, I knew just about everyone. On opening night I wrote this in my journal, "Tonight was the best night I've had in my life. I was filled with an array of joy never wanting it to end. As I walked down through the aisles during the finale, I got goose bumps. I was so cold I had to check to make sure I was still wearing my clothes and bonnet. I am glad that I have blessed people's spirits tonight and hope to bless many more in the shows to come." By closing night, like most people, I was in tears for what this show had done to me and that I was so overwhelmed with the amount of love that had been showed to me. For an hour I could not stop crying, hugging people telling everyone, "Thank you for sharing your love with me. I will never forget you." I told my parents and a few others, "I have never felt so loved in my whole life by anyone. I am so happy to have been a part of Les Misérables this summer but I am so sad now, that many people whom I have become instant friends with are now going away to move on in their lives. I feel like a changed and completely different person. I wish the magic of Les Misérables would never end. I would want to be in Les Misérables for my last show with Encore when that time comes. I will remember this production of Les Misérables for the rest of my life."
Elizabeth, age 4
I think Encore is really fun. I like all the games we play before rehearsal.
Emily, age 13
If you're not a Encore Student
You don't know pure fun
IF YOU'RE NOT AN ENCORE STUDENT
You can't know pure fun
Being a character you could never be
Create amazing shows for all to see
The joy of losing yourself on the stage
Could not be described on this simple page
If you're not an Encore Student
You don't know pure fun
If you're not an Encore Student
You don't know the friendships
You can't know the friendships
Each show you do, you make new friends
The fun times will never end
Each friendship grows until itís so strong
The memories last a whole life long
If you're not an Encore Student
You don't know the friendships
If you're not an Encore Student
You don't know me
You can't know me
Without theatre I don't know where I'd be
The memories that have influenced me
All the amazing friends I have met
Encore is a part of me I can't forget
If you're not an Encore Student
You don't know Me
Emily, age 16
One of the first things that pop into my head when I think of Encore is community. Ever since my first show with Encore, I have felt it. From the very beginning, I was completely welcomed, comfortable, and included into the family already formed. When I look back at the years I’ve spent with this company, I can honestly say I’ve made many of my fondest memories there. The atmosphere Summer creates is very important to her, and this is quite apparent at every rehearsal. She pushes you to achieve your best because she knows what you are capable of doing while still maintaining a level of fun in all the activities. I could not possibly be more grateful for the opportunities Summer has given to me. Without her heart for theater and for those who share her passion, I would not have been able to participate in my all-time favorite show, Les Miserables. The opportunity to be in that show with such a phenomenal cast was the experience of a lifetime. Encore Entertainers has caused me to fall in love with theater and I’m now eager to go to every rehearsal. Encore has become such a huge, influential part of my life, and I cannot fathom life without this company. I’m so proud to say that I’m a part of such an awesome family.
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Kelley, age 23
In January 2008, the world of musical theater meant nothing to me. If it had any relevance, it was a weekend paid gig & a networking opportunity. I went into ENCORE Entertainers with no more motivation than to pay a favor to a close friend. What I left with was nothing short of an emotional time bomb. And with seeds planted & careful, precise cultivation, ENCORE Entertainers became a second home. After having only spent nearly three years of my life with this company, I’ve learned the unbreakable bond of emotion that goes with the open stage. From the cataclysmic rush of intensity the chorus ensembles display, to the show-stealing requiems of loneliness, ENCORE has managed to bring its A game to the table time after time again.
ENCORE has taught me that these kids have more to offer than I could have imagined. I’ve laughed with them and I’ve cried with them. I’ve shared with them and they have shared with me. They have never ceased to leave me absolutely stunned at their work ethic, reliance on one another and their character. Never has a staff & student group made me feel more at home & comfortable in my life. ENCORE is more than a company. It’s a lifestyle choice. ENCORE will always hold a special place in my heart, and every student that steps into our family is always family, no matter where life may take them.
Mackenzie, age 13
What Encore means to me. Encore is my second home and my wonderful, fun filled, awesometastic, (gonna amazing), family. I feel like I can always be myself around any Encore member. You guys have given me the courage and bravery to be myself around everyone that I meet and already know. I was in love with dancing, singing and acting before, but when I came to Encore, I just can’t describe how much you guys made me love it more. I never ever thought that could be achievable. Every time we laugh or share an inside joke, it's like we have all known each other for our whole lives. I remember my first day at Encore, I came in, kind of shy and only knew three people and within seconds, no joke, I had a brand new mini family. As time progressed I had a new family of 60 then 80 and I think now over 100 (is my math correct?). Also, Encore gives me chances that in my previous company I never would have ever gotten a callback for. I feel loved and cared about and I have a new saying of "I can do it" and Encore inspired me to have that motto. I am just so happy that I found a place were I belong, where I fit, like I am a piece of a really gigantic musical puzzle that keeps on growing and when you have assembled it all together, after hard work and dedication, you have a Broadway quality puzzle or in this case a performance, that blows people's minds away. People constantly keep saying, "Are they really JUST kids?" and that is one of the COUNTLESS reasons that I adore Encore and what it means to me. In a nutshell, Encore means Family (a singing and dancing one at that). I know I have used the word love a lot but I can’t think of any other emotion or word to express or say. I just know that this is a superb theater company that will more than thrive as the years progress. I am going to enjoy every moment that passes by that I am privileged to spend with Encore, actually my marvelous family (the cover name is Encore)
Raymond, age 10
Encore has been one wild ride for me. I’ve been with them from the start, but then again, I had no choice, Summer’s my sister after all. In the end of any show that I’ve done with Encore, I feel a sadness knowing this might be the last time I’ll perform with all these people. By which I mean, whenever we do a show, there’s always such a tight bond with all the cast members, it’s like I never want to say goodbye, this is what I treasure most.
Sarah, age 12
Encore is a place where everyone is equal and accepted, because there are no cliques or groups. Everyone is one big, happy family of friends. Encore helps kids recognize their talents and helps build skills for the future. It means a lot to me because it is hard to find people like that anywhere else. Thank you Encore!!
Sarah, age 15
I have been involved with Encore Entertainers for 4 years, and I have known the director, Summer Cacciagoni, since I was 9 years old. As a performer, I have grown to love everything Encore does and stands for: Educating kids and teens in musical theater, while providing a safe and happy environment where they have the ability to learn and grow. I have personally grown so much as a performer and a person by being involved in Encore. Let me start off by saying how incredibly gifted and talented Summer and the entire Encore Staff is. In all my years of youth theater, I have never worked with such an inspirational and accomplished staff. The amount of hard work and love Summer and the Encore staff put into Encore's productions shows by how professional and polished they turn out to be. It is simply brilliant to see the way each show is put together. It truly is a team effort, and Encore encourages teamwork, which motivates friendships made there. I can honestly say that no family can compare to the Encore family. The friendships I have made in Encore are ones that will last for the rest of my life. Some of my best friends in the world were made at Encore because of the safe and fun environment. At Encore you do not have to hide who you are because it is an environment that allows you to express yourself freely through song or dance. Encore is a place to get away from anything that may be troubling you, and where you know you will always have a friend. Everyone is at Encore for the same reasons: to make friends, to become better performers, and to have fun. Encore has done all of this for me. Not to mention how amazing Encore's shows are. The combination of hard work, outstanding talent, and passion makes Encore's shows some of the best youth theater shows ever put on in the South Bay. The shows look, sound, and feel like professional shows, having extremely high quality talent, costumes, make-up, sets, props, lights, and much more. I cannot even describe how passionate and connected the entire cast and crew are during tech rehearsals and during the shows. Not only are Encore's shows incredible, but the way it makes you feel to know that you contributed all your talent, energy, and passion to something that has turned out to be so great is the best feeling in the world. I get this feeling this after every show. But what lasts is the memories. I have made so many memories that I will look back on and grow from. Memories that might make you laugh or cry; Memories that make you want to call your friends just to tell them you love them. It is for these wonderful memories that I come back to Encore. The experience is one that you can get nowhere else. Even if you do just one Encore show, it is an unforgettable journey that you will grow from, learn from, and love.
Serenity, age 12
Encore has pretty much changed my life. I was always adjusting my personality and the way I acted to please other people and fit in, but then I joined Encore Entertainers. Everything changed. I was always a very exuberant person, and people would make fun of me for that, so I would act laid-back and cool. I wasn't really me. When I joined Encore, I quickly realized that it was okay to be myself. Summer and all the other wonderful people in Encore brought me out of that fake personality, and I don't care at all what people think now. Summer is the best director I have ever had, and I look up to her as one of my biggest role models. From her I learned that it doesn't matter what people think of you, being yourself is all that matters. She's strict at the right times, and awesomely hilarious all other times. Everything she does seems to be amazingly fantastic! And it is! At Encore I also gained many, many, many true friends. At school all of my friends weren't really my friends. I only had about two real friends. At Encore I have, about, I don't know... ten! Everyone there is so nice and sweet, and all the older kids are great role models. I have gained what I know will be my life-long friends, and a lot of experience. As for the shows, they are amazing! They look and feel professional, and we have loads of fun while rehearsing and performing for them. I honestly don't know what I would do if I hadn't joined Encore... it changed my life.
Sophia, age 9
I like how Miss Summer does things in a really fun way. She gets to know us by playing games and she always gives everyone at least a little part. And whenever the shows are over, I'm very sad because they're so fun! I'm glad to be part of Encore because it's like one big happy family!
Tennessee, age 18
Encore has quite simply changed my life for the better. In Encore I have met the most beautiful souls, and I am privileged to call them friends, and love them like brothers and sisters. Being a part of this family, and being a part of a connection so strong has made growing up a lot sweeter than I think most kids experience. It will always be hard learning the lessons meant for us in life, but they are a lot easier when going through them with the support of a family like Encore. We cry together, we laugh together, we learn together, we sing together. We are an unstoppable force of friendship, and have a unity that keeps growing together. I remember my first day at Encore, and how I was so changed from just a moment. Before I walked in the room I was a shy, bookworm of a kid. In this welcoming environment I found my voice, and people I love more than I ever felt possible. I can truly say each and every member of this family is a kind and good soul that restores faith in today's youth (not to mention talented). I am so privileged and so blessed to be a part of this wonderful world of people, and all in a theater. It is like there is so much passion for what we are creating, and so much love for each other we all just feel like bursting. I am not sure where I would be without Encore, but I know what it has done for me, and the only way to really understand what we all talk about, and feel-is to see for self and join in our crusade in the pursuit of honing our craft in a welcoming circle of friends and family. I am so thankful everyday for the people in my life that I have met through Encore. From Summer and Marcelo, to Jen, to Mike, to the Parents and to us kids-I love them all, dearly-and others will too as they join us.
Thank you, I don't know where I would be- but it wouldn't be as good as this.
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We have caught the Encore "Family" bug. I have really enjoyed the parents I have hung out with doing "crafts" for the show, and my daughter Serenity has been really impressed with all of the kids and how nice they all are. We are really impressed with how the shows turn out and Serenity is thrilled to be a part of so many great productions. The quality of the costumes, sets and overall production is worth every penny we spend on tuition and then some, in fact I would say it is actually one of the best bargains around and worth much, much more!
I am very impressed with how well Summer connects with the kids, engages them, creates extra little parts for them, and makes them feel special. I like how she draws out their natural talents while holding them accountable for their work ethic and professionalism, pushing when they need pushing and teaching lessons when they need teaching. It truly is an art and I enjoy having the rare opportunity to watch her playing her "instrument" at times. I am thankful to have the opportunity to see such a talented director.
Encore has been a very welcoming and fun place to be and it feels like family. The parents I have gotten to know are great! The kids are great and very supportive of each other I am so glad we have found Encore. It has been very fun to be a part of things, helping and volunteering has allowed me to acquire skills I never knew I had.
My daughter Serenity has grown so much and learned a lot of great lessons including good work ethic. I am thrilled that she now hangs out with such a fantastic group of kids with good ethical standards. She has more close friends now than she ever had attending a public school thanks to Encore, and she is hanging out with the "right" crowd! And to think some were worried about how she would maintain social skills once I decided to home school her!
My daughter's passion for the Theatre has led us to try out several different groups and so far Encore is our absolute favorite! It is unlike any other group we have been a part of!
When my kids started doing theater at age 11, they were homeschooled athletes and we were looking to expand their horizons into the arts. Our family's story isn't a sad one, but ENCORE ENTERTAINERS has definitely impacted our lives. Summer first contacted us to be a part of The Safety Kids back in the Fall of 2007. The girls were so shy but Summer gave them a small solo and forced them into the front to sing together. One of them, Belle, was bitten by the bug. From there, they were in Charlie Brown and Peter Pan where both were ensemble dancers. But Belle was listening and learning and quietly blooming. When Summer announced they were doing Guys and Dolls, Belle made her decision to step up for a bigger part. From her first callback to the phone call letting her know she was being offered the part, it was evident something had happened in Belle.
What Summer brought out of her was a quiet confidence to not only play a part, but to create a character from within herself. Summer has a way of seeing beyond even what a child's own parents can see. Every parent thinks their kid is special, but Summer finds in each kid what makes THEM light up and what is best for THEM as individuals. As a parent you learn to step back and let Summer do what comes naturally to her. It has changed Belle forever for the better in so many ways.
Nikki has been a bit of a challenge in that Summer has a ways to go to break her from her "shyness." But Nikki has a love for theater and its inner workings. She loves to be in the shows, but she also has worked hand in hand with Marcelo who has taught her everything there is to know about building sets, teching, and behind the scenes. She can dance a number in a show and then run off stage to grab a prop for the next scene or help someone with a quick change. She knows each show like the back of her hand and has the confidence to help in any capacity because Marcelo has given her that confidence. Summer and Marcelo have given our girls an enormous leg up on the education they would receive in a college setting. I am positive these kids know more than the average college student because they're learning it through 2 people who love to give of their knowledge and of themselves. There is no price tag on the love they've been shown and what they have been and will be taught.
For us, Encore isn't just about doing shows and getting leads. Summer and Marcelo are good people who have nothing but good intentions and good will for those that are in their care. With every show this becomes more obvious. When you experience how positive that environment is, you never want to leave. My girls are now 16 and I know that beyond their years in youth theater, as a family, we will continue to support ENCORE Entertainers, behind the scenes, in any way we can. We may just be a normal family whose story is just about 2 kids being brought out of their shell in different ways. But if we have been impacted so greatly, imagine what this environment has done for someone whose life is not so easy. ENCORE is here for all the right reasons and we plan to stay with them until their last curtain closes.
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It’s interesting how you get involved with something because your kids are, but then it becomes as much a part of your life as theirs. Thatís what being involved with Encore has meant to me. Since I began doing props with the premier show, Joseph, I have enjoyed every minute of working with Summer & Marcelo, the other Encore Moms & Dads, and the awesome young people. There is a value system of mutual respect among the cast & crew, which nurtures the excellence and good attitudes surrounding all areas to put on awesome shows and grow awesome kids. Being a part of these kidsí lives is a privilege I have not taken lightly. Whether it’s helping them get the right prop at the right time and place, giving an encouraging word or just a sincere smile, it’s been a true blessing to work with them. Getting hugs, prompted by Summer, and sincere "thank yous" as I handed props out was especially nice. Thank you, kids! Encore Entertainers provides a positive and safe environment to grow in, and I am excited to see what the future holds for these talented young people who have so much potential, whether they continue to perform on stage or not.
Though ENCORE Entertainers is a youth theater production company, it is unlike any youth theater company we have ever heard of. At ENCORE, the students find a home-away-from home, a place where they are treasured as people. They are loved and encouraged to grow in so many ways. The acting and singing really take a backseat to all the other learning experiences that these young people will carry with them throughout their lives; working as a team, personal accountability and responsibility, caring and compassion for those around them, living clean lives (as Ms. Summer expects their lives to be examples for all, both in and out of class). As you know, these attributes are what an employer, would want to find inÝtheir employees. These values and skills will be carried and spread through these young people in their families, friendships and in their workplaces.
Years ago, when our daughter, Summer, graduated with honors from Chapman University, she wanted to pursue a career in producing movies. She wanted to influence hundreds of thousands of people with her movies. I told her she had all the talent and intelligence to do an incredible job at whatever she put her mind to. I told her there would be a trade-off if she chose to be a producer because she could not do justice to a spouse or children if she made that choice. I reminded her of her dream of having her own youth theater production company someday. I told her that there was great value in affecting young peopleís lives, one-by-one, and of the ripple effect that would have on all those they would come in contact with as they progressed in life. Over time, she would be changing thousands of lives.
I could not have imagined the choice she would make would someday exceed far beyond what was envisioned by both of us that day. The values, hopes and dreams she instills in her students are far more than what any of us could have imagined. I have been in awe observing the world of good that swirls around all those involved in ENCORE. I believe that what we have all been privileged to see comes from the real love and respect that Summer and Marcelo have for the students and their parents. My youngest child, Raymond Wilson, Summer’s little brother, has been blessed to be included in all that ENCORE has to offer. I look forward to the strength of character and sense of honor that will continue to be reinforced in him as he grows up in ENCORE.
Our first production with Encore Entertainers was this past summer when both of my sons participated in the Willy Wonka summer camp. They each went to rehearsals everyday for 2 weeks, wore similar costumes, performed on the same stage, and yet they each experienced something unique and personal.
Participating in the summer camp was the absolute BEST thing to prepare my youngest son to start his first year of school. He was able to explore being creative in a safe environment, and I witnessed him gain confidence as he resolved personal fears independently on stage and under pressure. He uses the skills learned at the summer camp every day in kindergarten, and I applaud Encore Entertainers for their vision and commitment to teaching children more than just the performing arts.
I would like to express how much it meant to our family just this past summer experiencing the gracious gift of letting our youngest son Jonah be in the summer program. Our oldest son Kolby has done numerous shows with Encore and we have had difficulties in paying for that but we knew how important it was to him and saw such a positive change in him over the past 3 years and fell in love with all the kids involved that we had to figure out a way to get Jonah involved but just didn't have the funds to do it and Jonah was the child who needed it most. He was getting ready to start 1st grade in public school, is very small for his age, extremely shy, had no friends, would not go on play dates and would not attend birthday parties let alone have his own. He cried everyday in kindergarten because of this. As a mother, this absolutely breaks your heart to see your child in so much pain. And yes, I had him seeing the school counselor every week. Her diagnosis? "Jonah is the sweetest boy I have come across in a long time. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He lacks self-confidence." When I spoke to Summer about Jonah she had a "talk" with him. She said "Jonah, come to my summer camp. He still was not taking the bait. She said, "I majored in shyness in college, if you hate it the first day you don't ever have to come back; but if you like it and want to stay I will talk to your Mom and work something out so you can stay". Well, when I spoke to Summer before she already knew of our financial situation and that there was no way we could possibly send both both boys to camp. So needless to say, Jonah was a "camper." When the show came, Willy Wonka, Jr, Jonah was an Oompah Loompah and a squirrel. The morning of the show he told us he wasn't doing the show because of all the people and he was just too afraid. Needless to say again; Summer works her miracles with children and my husband, myself and my family sat in the audience quite expecting to see the show minus one Oompah Loompah and squirrel.Öwhen to my utmost, shocked surprise, there was our Jonah in the front row not only singing, but dancing and loving every minute of every acting up on that stage! I cried buckets! Never in a million years did I think he would ever have the confidence to do anything remotely like this! After the show was over, there was a cast party with all the kids, which I was not planning on attending because Jonah hates parties. Well, he wanted to go! We went; he came up to me, hugged me and said, "Mom, this is the best day of my life." Jonah was 6 at the time. He is now 7 and is working on his 2nd production with Encore; without his big brother being there to hold his hand. He no longer comes home crying every day after school. I truly believe I have Encore (Summer) to thank for this. This organization is so important!
From the first Encore show I saw, I was amazed. To say this organization put on great kid's theater is a major disservice. The truth is - Encore puts on incredible theater period. I am proud that my children are a part of Encore Entertainers and I look forward to many more years of amazing productions.
We have been involved in many theater groups over the years and we can say without reservation that Encore is the best of the best. One reason for this assertion is the very unique sense of community that permeates every aspect of Encore. The students, parents and even siblings are accepted as part of the family and made to feel that things would not be the same if they weren't there. Parents are encouraged to participate, not just to provide willing hands during shows but to become part of the experience and realize that we are helping to create a very special environment for all of the kids involved. Among the students there really are no cliques. New students are welcomed in and even those that might be perceived as "different" are included and made to feel part of the family.Ý The students truly care about each other and rejoice in each others’ accomplishments.
Encore also provides true leadership education.Ý Students may not realize it, but they are learning so much more than how to sing, dance and act; they are learning to be part of a team and to create something far greater than themselves. As students grow in their abilities they are given responsibility for helping to train those coming along behind. Students are also held to a high standard of behavior. Expectations are made clear and students always rise to meet those expectations. This leadership training will help them in every aspect of their lives as adults, both in the workplace and the community.
No organization is ever perfect, but at Encore they are always listening and looking for ways to improve the experience for the students and the families. No suggestion is ever dismissed without really looking at the potential for improvement or the sentiment behind the request. They really care what the parents think and what they want for their kids.
We are so thankful to be a part of this great group of people and we are excited to see what great things we will all accomplish together in the years to come!
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