Time Warp. Performance shines a light on life backstage

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Cast members in Encore! Theatre Company's upcoming production of "Time Warp, A Musical Celebration" hold rehearsals Monday night. Time Warp opens Friday in the Maguire Theater at Arts of the Albemarle.


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Encore Theatre Company’s first show of the year hopes to answer the audience’s age-old question: How did everyone involved make such a big performance possible?

“Time Warp, A Musical Celebration” opens Jan. 18 at The Center’s Maguire Theater upstairs at Arts of the Albemarle. Directed by Sarah Lee, the musical will highlight the work — from rehearsals to show time — put in by directors, actors, stage hands and others in bringing magic to the stage.   

“It’s really kind of a behind the scenes look of what happens leading up to a production,” Lee said.

The 19-member ensemble cast spans the age spectrum, some as young as six years old. They will perform songs from past Encore performances, plus many from today’s popular shows. 

“We will be taking a journey to the past, present and future, featuring numbers from our classic shows such as ‘Nunsensations,’ ‘My Name Is Alice,’ ‘I Love You We’re Perfect Now Change,’ and then blast into the future with music from some of the latest shows on Broadway: ‘Hamilton,’ “Rent,” ‘The Greatest Showman,’ ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Wicked,’” states a flier for the show. “See where it all started and what the future holds in Encore’s original musical, ‘Time Warp: A Musical Celebration.’”

“It’s a good mixture between newer musicals and older musicals,” Lee said. 

While the show will feature an ensemble cast, the audience may recognize many of the actors and longtime Encore performers. Some of them include Encore founding member Mary Cherry, plus Janet Klein, who directed Encore’s recent performance of “Little Shop of Horrors,” and Jacob Spencer, who played young golfer Justin Hicks in last year’s “Fox On The Fairway.”

In between songs the characters will hold conversations on different topics designed to broaden the audience’s behind-the-scenes knowledge. Topics include the longtime effort to keep Encore running and what it’s like in the final week before opening night, a frantic period known by those in the theater as “Hell Week,” Lee said.

The latter topic will be accompanied by a musical number from “Legally Blonde.”

Other topics written into the script include the auditioning process, the friendships made over the years and the mentors who provided leadership and education to everyone eager to learn more about stage life. 

The audience also will be treated to a video montage of photos of past and current Encore performers, Lee said. The video will be set to the song “Seasons of Love,” from “Rent.” 

To give perspective on how long it takes to make a show like “Time Warp” possible, Lee said rehearsals began as early as last October.

“So, they’ve been working on this quite a while,” she said. 

Encore has been providing community theater since 1992, and while “Time Warp” is being performed at Maguire Theater, the stage will resemble Encore’s old diamond-shaped stage at Encore’s former downtown location. Also known as Main Street Stage, the theater was upstairs in the space now used as a lab by Port Discover. Encore performs at Maguire Theater but holds rehearsals at its site in the former Wonder Bread building at 1176 U.S. Highway 17 South. 

“Time Warp” opens Friday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m., with repeat performances Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m., a matinee at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20, and again the following week, starting at 7:30 nightly, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-26. Tickets are $16 and $12 and can be purchased by calling 252-338-6455 or by visiting Arts of the Albemarle at 516 E. Main St, downtown Elizabeth City.