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Encore! Home School Productions, a cooperative theater arts program, celebrates 10 years!
Nancy Emerson, 4/23/2010

Nancy Emerson is a long-time homeschooling mother of four-- and her youngest two children have loved being involved in the Encore! musical theatre productions for students in the CHESS cooperation learning program and another co-op program, The Learning Center. This type of huge endeavor, to professional standards, shows how far the homeschooling movement has come in 30 years-- few people would have thought something like this would be possible 'way back when'!

*Members of the cast of 'Suessical the Musical' getting ready for their big performances*

Why do already-busy homeschoolers decide to make a huge commitment to putting on a musical each spring?  For some students, it’s the love of theater.  For others, it’s the opportunity to get together with friends on a more frequent basis.  For most students, though, it’s a combination of the two.  And, for parents, it’s for the children!  However, they often find themselves benefiting from their show involvement as well.  I know I have.

Encore! Home School Productions is an all-volunteer, cooperative, non-profit theater arts program in central Pennsylvania.  It started as a drama class at a homeschool co-op, all because one mom, Deb Bell, had two daughters interested in theater.  In the early years, a professional director, Cory Wilkerson, led the group, known then as The Learning Center Players.  The group put on one play each school year. 

In 2004 Jill Panyard, a homeschool mom, mentored under Cory and co-directed the group’s 4th production, Peter Pan.  Like many homeschool moms, Jill jumped into the job without a professional background.  (Hers was in advertising and marketing.)  She was just willing to give it a try, feeling led by God to do so.  Since then, she has directed or co-directed six more shows, including this year’s production Seussical.  Jill has also been an assistant director and a stage manager for two shows at Hershey Area Playhouse.  Clearly, Jill made a good decision when she decided to give directing a try!

Since 2006 Encore has been putting on musicals for the spring production.  A musical takes even more work, most notably the music!  So, we have since added a music director to the group:  again, one of the moms, Carole Adkins.  Another one of the moms, Vicki Dincher, also jumped in to help with the directing.  Like Jill Panyard, Vicki’s background was not in theater; it was in biology!  By getting involved as a co-director with Encore, Vicki has been able to use her many artistic gifts that she cannot fully use when she teaches biology and physics to several of the students.

To be eligible to audition for a part, students must be enrolled in Creative Home Educators Support Services (C.H.E.S.S.) or the Learning Center.  The parents must be willing to help raise money and to help out in the production.  Each family does a pre-show job and a during-the-show job.  Some jobs take an enormous amount of time, but as we all know, those who give a lot, gain a lot.  Getting to know the students is one of my favorite things about participating.  I’ve also enjoyed getting to know the other parents.  Deep friendships are formed as we face challenges, expected and unexpected, together.

This year Encore! Home School Productions is celebrating ten years.  We’re putting on Seussical with a cast of 43 students, ages four to 18, at a private high school in Central Pennsylvania.  Seussical is a well-loved musical featuring the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and the Who's of Whoville.  It’s an entertaining show for the whole family.

Performances at Trinity High School, 3601 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill, will be on Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and will conclude with a show on Sunday, May 2 at 2 p.m.

Reserved seating tickets are $10 and general admission tickets are $8 in advance.  Purchase them for $12 and $10 at the door.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.Showtix4u.com or by calling 1-866-967-8167 or (717) 832-3031.  We’d love to have you come!


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