Have you ever wanted to get back together with all the folks you did musicals with in high school to do a revival of your best show together? Sure, it was always a nice daydream, but thanks to Kristen Bell’s new ABC project Encore! this is now possible!
The first episode airs on ABC this Sunday, and we got the chance to hear about the process with Music Director Adam Wachter.
Known in the DC theatre scene for music directing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Shakespeare Theatre Company and the new musical Girlstar at Signature Theatre, Wachter joined the Encore! project via a series of unexpected and fortuitous events.
“I had a break from working, so I decided to visit my friend in LA when a contact through director Michael Arden referred me for a music director position with Encore!” Wachter explained. “Then, separately, a friend who is the Associate Producer for the show gave a second recommendation and I was hired.”
In the first episode, the show is Stephen Sondheim and James LaPine’s Into the Woods. The show will feature the original high school cast, and a few professional actors to fill the empty gaps, twenty years after their production to remount what they did all those years ago. Kristen Bell of Broadway and Disney Frozen fame is the Executive Producer, but she also appears on the show to guide the group to success.
“Kristen is very involved in the process. She is calming, comforting, and so good with people who are, quite frankly, terrified to take on doing this not just for their friends and families, but for national television!” Wachter said.
Wachter’s role, in addition to being a music director, was also to help educate a primarily television-centered team about the process of how to bring together the different parts of a stage musical, which he thought was exciting.
“The best part of the whole thing was meeting the cast and hearing their stories,” Wachter said. “These people are picking up where they left each other twenty years ago and seeing what dynamics are the same or changed since they were in high school is fascinating.”
According to him, while seeing them reunite with each other was definitely warm and fuzzy, past drama was also present as it is with most people who have long histories in life – which you’ll just have to watch the show to see.
Wachter spoke about how moved he was to see people leap outside of their comfort zones to sing, dance, and act, and he said, “This show is great because it will inspire people who don’t normally consider themselves to be artistic to have an artistically meaningful life. It’s never too late to be involved in the arts or to do any of these things.”
Tune in to ABC this Sunday, December 10 at 10pm EST and watch Encore! to witness how old friends – and perhaps some frenemies – reunite to revive their high school musical with professional coaching under the lead of the Kristen Bell. It looks to be a fun return into the woods for everyone!