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Steve Debruyne is the assistant artistic director of The Encore Musical Theatre Company.
By Donald V. Calamia
It's not always easy to tell what types of shows a theater produces based solely on its name, but one of Southeast Michigan's newest theaters left nothing to chance when it debuted last year as The Encore Musical Theatre Company. Located in Dexter and situated half-way between two theatrical powerhouses, The Encore has set itself apart with a passion for the genre and a unique approach to casting. Assistant artistic director Steve DeBruyne - an onstage powerhouse himself, who plays Simon Zealotes in April's production of Jesus Christ Superstar - talked recently with EncoreMichigan.com about the young company and its goals for the future.
What is your theater's mission statement?
Our mission is to bring professional quality musical theater to Washtenaw County and beyond, as well as enhance Washtenaw County's performing arts scene.
What are your theater's short-term goals and objectives - such as for the current season?
Our main goal is to continue in our own growth as a new member of Michigan's theater scene by attracting new audiences, and maintaining our current audience. We hope to continue to offer quality talent and quality entertainment in an intimate setting at affordable prices, and become southeastern Michigan's "go-to" destination for musical theater.
What are your theater's long-term goals and objectives?
We hope to improve our current theater space in the next few years. Our goal is to add a lobby to our existing building, and possibly expanding the theater itself including larger restroom facilities, and possibly a small lobby bar area where patrons can enjoy a drink before or after the show.
Another of our goals for the future is to become an Equity house. We currently employ Equity Actors under Special Appearance Contracts.
What makes your theater different from any of the others in Michigan? What is it about you that is unique?
The Encore is proud to employ Equity actors from Michigan, in addition to Equity actors from Chicago and New York, often with Broadway credits. In our first season alone we featured performances by Jessica Grove (Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie and Sunday in the Park With George), Dan Cooney (Broadway's 9 to 5 and Les Miserables), Sarah Litzsinger (Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Oliver and Amour), and Walter ONeil (Broadway's Wicked and A Tale of Two Cities).
What is your programming philosophy? What type(s) of shows does your theater produce on its main stage - and why??
The Encore produces strictly musical theater. In our short existence, we've brought classics like Oklahoma and Guys & Dolls to the stage, as well as more contemporary works like Little Shop of Horrors and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
We focus mainly on musical theater because, first and foremost, it's our passion. By focusing exclusively on musical theater, we are offering a form of live entertainment that isn't already provided by the other companies in the area, such as The Purple Rose.
What other types of programming, if any, does your theater offer - such as theater for young audiences, educational outreach, etc.?
The Encore recently launched our Concert Series. So far we've featured The NYC Singer/Songwriter Circle and Three Men and a Tenor. This summer we will be offering a concert starring Stephen West. Many people may recognize Mr. West's name as a professor from the University of Michigan, but he is also a successful opera singer who has performed at New York City's Met Opera.
Does your theater offer any classes or workshops - either to the general public or to industry professionals? If so, what are they?
We are happy to be launching The Encore Musical Theatre Company Summer Program for kids this summer! We will offer separate programs for elementary, middle school, and high school aged children. Classes will be taught by Broadway actors and local actors and teachers. The program is aimed at children and young adults who wish to learn more about musical theater performance. We are currently accepting registration through our Web site for this summer. Class sizes are limited.
Is your theater an Equity (union) company?
What is the philosophy you use to cast your shows? From what talent pool(s) do you draw from?
Our talent comes from all over Washtenaw and Livingston Counties and sometimes beyond that. We have been very fortunate to feature students from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University in almost all of our shows. Our goal is to cast the most talented individuals, while staying true to the author's visions as far as type. We are always searching for talented and passionate local, non-Equity actors who wish to learn more about the professional theater experience. Many of our non-Equity actors have been involved in community theater, but have never had the opportunity to work with industry professionals.
How does an actor go about arranging an audition?
We post our open calls on our Web site, as well as on our Facebook page, Ann Arbor Area Auditions, and Detroit Area Theatre Link.
Does your theater offer an apprenticeship or internship program? And if so, what is the criteria - and how does someone apply for such a position?
At this time we are working on creating an internship program for the future.
Does your theater accept new play submissions? If so, how does a playwright go about submitting a script for your consideration?
We would love to consider new musicals by local writers. This season we will be presenting an original musical called Club Morocco that will be making it's Michigan premiere with us. We like to offer our audiences the opportunity to see something new and exciting.
What else should we know about your theater, the current season, etc.?
This season we will be presenting Jesus Christ Superstar in April, Club Morocco in June, and The Sound of Music in August. We will also have productions in October and December and will announce which shows we will be presenting soon.
Theater name: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Business & performance address (including zip code): 3126 Broad St., Dexter MI, 48130
Web address: http://theencoretheatre.org
Facebook fan page: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
Twitter name: TheEncore
Business office & box office phone (including area code): 734-268-6200
Business office hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Box office hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and two hours prior to each performance.
In what year was your theater established: 2009
Company's founders: The Encore was founded by Broadway's Dan Cooney and Chelsea business owners Anne and Paul Koch.
Current leaders or management team: Dan Cooney, executive artistic director; Steve DeBruyne, assistant artistic director; Anne Koch, business management.
Is your theater a non-profit, tax-exempt organization? Yes.
Is your theater wheelchair accessible? Yes.
During which months of the year does your season run? We present productions in February, April, June, August, October and December.
How many main stage productions do you offer each season? Six.
How many OTHER productions or programs do you offer each season? Our goal is to offer at least three concert events in addition to our regular season.
How many seats does your theater have? 122.
What type(s) of seating is offered to your patrons (ex: general admission, reserved, etc)? Reserved Seating
In general, what is the price range for your non-discounted main stage tickets (exclusive of service charges and other fees)? Regular adult seats are $28.
Are there service charges or other fees added to the price of the tickets? And if so, what are those charges and fees? If the tickets are purchased online, then there is a $3.50 convenience fee added to each ticket purchased, as well as $0.50 to print the tickets at home. However if tickets are purchased by phone or in person, these fees do not apply.
In general, what is the price range for your OTHER programs and services? Ticket prices vary depending on the entertainment offered. Past events were priced at $15 per ticket or $25 per ticket.
Do you offer subscriptions to your main stage season? No.
Do you offer discounts to senior citizens (and if so, what are the details)? Yes. Seniors 55 and over pay $25.
Do you offer discounts to students (and if so, what are the details)? Yes. Students under 18 pay $25.
Do you offer group discounts (and if so, what are the details)? Yes. Groups of 10 or more pay only $22 a ticket.
For ticket purchases, does your theater accept personal checks? Yes.
For ticket purchases, does your theater accept credit or debit cards? Yes: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards.
Can tickets to your shows be purchased online - and if so, how? Yes, tickets may be purchased online by visiting our Web site.
ABOUT STEVE DEBRUYNE:
Steve DeBruyne, assistant artistic director of The Encore Musical Theatre Company, is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Originally from London, Ontario, Canada, Steve discovered a passion for musical theater while attending high school in Howell, Michigan. Steve has extensive regional theater credits and appeared as Malcolm in the National Broadway Tour of The Full Monty for two years. At The Encore, Steve appears as a featured actor in many of the productions and works in the office and box office.
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