Encore Performers Present ‘Santa’s Special Delivery’

Encore Performers Present ‘Santa’s Special Delivery’

Dazzling songs and dances in a holiday-themed story.

Encore dancers pose for the “Yule Be Swinging” number.

Encore dancers pose for the “Yule Be Swinging” number.

Filled with the joy and wonder of the holiday season, Encore Theatrical Arts Project presents “Santa’s Special Delivery.” This Broadway-style extravaganza features some 30 performers, creative choreography, elaborate sets, colorful costumes and nearly two dozen musical numbers.  

The show runs Saturday, Dec. 9 and 16, at noon, 4 and 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 17, at noon and 4 p.m., in the Richard Ernst Theater at NOVA’s Annandale campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike. Encore is a nonprofit, and tickets range from $25-$40. To purchase them, and for Girl Scout program details, go to www.encore-tap.org.

In the story, Mr. Price, the greedy CEO of Holidash Toy Co. wants his company to be number one in the world. But it’s second to the Kringle Corp. at the North Pole. Infuriated, he sends an assistant disguised as an elf to the North Pole to find out Kringle’s weakness and sabotage its success.

The cast has been rehearsing since July and, said Director/Choreographer Raynor van der Merwe, “The dancers have all made sacrifices to be 100 percent in this show, and their commitment and passion shines through. It’s an exciting, fast-paced and magical production that truly has something entertaining for everyone.”

Encore alumni Paige Williams and Becca Perron wrote the script, which van der Merwe describes as “intelligent, well-written and having a different rhythm” than previous ones. The scenes take place at the Holidash TV studio, plus inside and outside Santa’s workshop.

Chantilly High senior Anjali Ashok, a dancer since age 3, has spent 15 years with Encore. “After a long, stressful day, it’s a place to express and refresh myself,” she said. In this story, she plays Cocoa, the elf who distributes cocoa to all the other elves. 

“She loves her job and has a bubbly personality,” said Ashok. “I enjoy playing her because she becomes an integral part of the show. She has a sense of responsibility and takes pride in what she’s doing.” Ashok’s favorite number is “Rockettes” because “It’s precision dancing and we have a kickline at the end, which is always exciting and energetic.”

“This show has a huge storyline with singing, dancing and acting, with professional-quality costumes, props and intricate sets,” added Ashok. “And all these things together make it really special.”

Ginny Shaw, a senior at Centreville High, calls dancing “an athletic way to get some exercise while sharing my passion.” Playing an elf named Snowflake, her character is witty and considers gift-wrapping the best part of being an elf. “She also thinks she’s the best one at her job – which makes some other elves not like her as much,” said Shaw. “She’s fun to play because she’s so clever, and she and I both like sharing facts with people. And she’s enthusiastic about what she loves, as am I.’

Shaw especially likes the song, “Let Yourself Go,” because “It’s a high-energy, prop-filled, almost militaristic number. It’s one of the dances in a Christmas parade.” Within this musical, she said, “Young dancers show their talent and joy of the art. We’ve put in so much dedication, and we’re all excited to share our hard work with everyone.”

Dancing since age 2, Centreville High senior Olivia Royall has been with Encore for seven years. “Dancing lets me get out my stress and connect with other people,” she explained. “When I’m dancing, I feel the energy in the room increase and it makes me happy.”

In this show, she’s Ribbon, an elf who works at a crisis hotline at the North Pole and helps whenever the elves have an emergency. “She wants to be good at her job but doesn’t get many calls,” said Royall. “It’s fun playing her because she’s not a typical elf. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and show when she’s discouraged or upset. And she doesn’t always think before speaking, so she’s a dynamic character.”

Royall’s favorite song is the “Frosty the Snowman” section of the opening number. “We wear white costumes and top hats and put all our energy into those characters,” she said. “Overall, audiences will like this show’s different variety of numbers and costumes, plus all the effort everyone put into it – including all the people working backstage. And that’s what makes it so magical – it’s like all the pieces of a puzzle coming together.”

Lola Farkas plays Minty, a bubbly elf. “She’s enthusiastic about what she does,” said Farkas. “She’s not the smartest but tries hard and really loves Christmas. I love playing goofy characters, and elves are fun because they’re the epitome of silliness.”

She likes the “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus” number best because “It’s such an upbeat, fun song. There are times where I can let my character’s personality shine and communicate with the other elves onstage through our dancing. I feel the most free dancing; it allows me to express emotions I can’t do out loud – which is why I love it.” And since this production has a new storyline and Broadway-inspired dances, Farkas said, “It’s just like watching a Broadway show, except it’s at NOVA with dancers ages 10-18.”

For Georgia Dawson, “Dancing gets your energy out. It’s also social; I quickly became fast friends with the other dancers.” She’s portraying an elf named Candy, who’s excitable and helps train the reindeer. “She’s almost bossy, but is outgoing and is best friends with Minty,” said Dawson. “Candy’s like I wish I could be – she commands attention.”

Her favorite number is “Toyland Ball” because “I’m a ragdoll in it, and we have lots of partner dances with the boy ragdolls. We also do lifts with them, which is fun. People will also enjoy this show because it has a unique premise and a shocking twist.”

Playing a dancer in Mr. Price’s holiday TV show is Kelly Walsh. “My character’s hardworking and wants to power through until the end of the program, but the crew takes lots of breaks, and Price makes everyone do things over until they’re perfect,” she said. “It’s fun because she’s snooty and complaining and bosses everyone around.”

A dancer since age 3, Walsh saw her older sister dancing and wanted to do it as soon as she could. “Encore classes are fun, and you connect personally with the other dancers,” she said. “We’ve formed strong bonds, so performing together is even more special. It feels like you’re doing your favorite thing with your family.”

She especially likes the “Reindeer” song because “We dress as reindeer, and our fun dance gets everyone in the mood for a good time. Audiences will enjoy this Christmas show because the jokes are funny, and the captivating dancing styles and Broadway feel will appeal to all ages.”