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Best of Arlington 2017

Encore Stage & Studio

Best Enrichment Programs

A production of The Wizard of Oz at Encore. Courtesy photo

Sara Strehle Duke remembers auditioning at least three times for a part with Encore Stage & Studio when she was 9, but she never made it into a show. “I would sit by the phone and it wouldn’t ring and I’d be disappointed,” she says. Fast-forward a few decades and Duke is now Encore’s executive director. And she’s expanding its programming to create more opportunities for kids who want to participate.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Encore offers after-school classes and vacation camps for kids in grades K-12. It also produces eight plays a year, casting children between the ages of 4 and 18 in a variety of roles. Upcoming productions include A Little Princess (Jan. 6-15), Night at the Wax Museum (March 10-19) and Godspell (March 31-April 9). Though it’s not uncommon to find more than 100 children auditioning for only 30 roles, kids who aren’t selected as cast members for one show are encouraged to keep auditioning. What talents does Duke look for? The ability to listen, work well with others and take direction.

—Lisa Rabasca Roepe


Other top vote-getters:

Arlington County Parks & Recreation

Children’s House Montessori School

Tutoring Club of McLean