‘Encore’ returns to St. Joseph High School in August

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — The St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation announced the return of “Encore” for August 2016.

Encore, a two-night variety show that reunites former St. Joseph High School performers, featured several acts as they were presented on stage from the 1950s through the 1990s. The variety show is held to benefit the St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation.This year’s Encore will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 19-20 in the John and Dede Howard Performing Arts Center Auditorium at the high school.

Dennis Bowen will produce the variety show, having directed the high school’s various acts for 20 years while he was teaching. However, this year’s performances will have new criteria from the showcase in 2014.

“Last time we limited it to previous variety show acts,” Bowen said. “This time we opened it up to shows by people who have previously produced musicals here and work done by alumni who have gone on to do work professionally.”

Encore returns after taking a one-year hiatus. Bowen said it has not been determined whether the variety show will be a biennial event.

“We didn’t want to overdo it. We wanted to make Encore something people would anticipate,” he said. “There’s no plan to hold it every other year. The Foundation wants to watch it and see where it goes.”

One of the reasons for the two-year wait is the process is takes in producing the variety show.

Bowen said he and other volunteers spend almost a year and a half working on it.

“We are in high gear now,” he said. “We are in the process of lining up an orchestra and dancers. On  Feb. 1, we begin seeking auditions using students from 2005 to as far back as we can go. We had a 68-year-old dancing in the last one. I also had a singer from 1959.”

Some performers have already sent in their tapes, Bowen said.

In 2014, the variety show had about 160 volunteers participating on stage and backstage.

“This is a way to show off what’s happened at our school,” Bowen said. “We have had many people go on to Broadway and play in orchestras around the world. Since I have been around for so long, I know everyone. The greatest part is not just the fundraising, but the ‘friend-raising.’ A couple got married after taking part in the last show.”

Bowen said the master of ceremonies will be Jay Schadler, who’s been a correspondent and anchor for ABC News.

Sales open June 20 and tickets can be bought online or at Edgewater Bank at 321 Main St. in St. Joseph. Tickets are reserved and will be sold in three tiers ranging from $100, $25 and $10. All funding goes back to the Foundation.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 19, 2016)

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