‘Encore!’ Review: Disney+ Delivers a Bizarrely Bleak Attempt at a Feel-Good Reality Series

Collider | 11/12/2019 | Haleigh Foutch
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When you’re in high school, every moment feels make-or-break for the rest of your life. Whether it’s first love, first heartbreak, first failure, or your first big moment in the spotlight, those teenage years are rife with drama and the weight of expectation — especially when you’re in the theater, darling.

So how does that extremely clever concept stack up in execution? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The series devotes just one hour-long episode to each group of alumni and their production, which they have to re-learn and perform in just five days. As anyone who’s ever mounted a large-scale musical production can tell you, that’s one heck of a feat on one brutal timeline, and the insanity of trying to mount a stage show in less than a week can make for some peak reality tv dramatics. Fortunately, Encore! brings in big-name Broadway and Off-Broadway professionals to help them out, including directors, musical directors, choreographers, and an ensemble of pro actors to fill out the chorus. It all sounds great on paper, but by limiting each group’s runtime to an hour, they also limit their access to the depth they seem to be striving for.

Something - Queer - Eye - Theater - Kids

Encore! seems to fancy itself something of a Queer Eye for theater kids, an opportunity to lift these people up by getting them back in touch with their teenage passions. But the Netflix counterpart thrives on a spectacular tonal balance; the guests on Queer Eye often bring heart-wrenching and lord knows the show can bring more than a few tears to your eye, but the content itself feels light-hearted, uplifting and affirming.

Encore! has moments that sing, especially an Episode 2 highlight when theater legend Susan Egan, who originated the role of Belle on Broadway, shows up to mentor the performers and they appropriately...
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