I had never attended a show put on by Encore Theatrical Arts Project before and really didn’t know what to expect. But, looking at the website and reading about the company, I knew it would get me in the holiday spirit. I attended the 4:00 pm show on a Sunday at the Richard J. Ernst Theatre located on the NOVA campus in Annandale, VA and brought my 9-year-old daughter with me. My daughter had a ton of questions and was curious beyond belief. After getting our tickets at will call, we headed to the lobby where they were selling snacks and drinks (simple, basic treats) and they also displayed the actors headshots. My daughter loved looking at all of them. She made comments about whether they would be dancing or singing, and also about how some of them looked like they were her age. (That part she thought was really cool).
When we got to our seats, we checked out the auditorium and took in all the sights before the show began. It was a relatively intimate setting where we felt like we were connected to the stage. My daughter was amazed to see the balcony and the people sitting up there. We had about 10 minutes to wait until the show started so we began perusing our playbill. There was a nice balance of information, photographs, and advertising in my opinion. Amelia was enthralled with looking at the actor’s portraits more closely and matching up their characters names. It was fun to watch her figuring it all out.
When the curtains rose, and the show began, I knew we were in for a treat. The scenery was spectacular. Extremely professional design and function as well. There were cabinets, tables, and balconies that the actors were able to stand on. We also saw beautiful artwork that reflected the joy and whimsy of the North Pole (exactly how I’d always imagined it). The storyline was well written, and easily kept my daughters attention the entire time. It was sweet how the story recognized the importance of kid’s playing with toys and how adults don’t quite understand that locking them away isn’t really keeping them safe. Toys are meant to be played with and kids are meant to be curious and happy.
Honestly, I have to really emphasize something about this musical: these actors are REALLY good at what they do. There were kids ranging from elementary school all the way to high school that showed such professionalism and talent. The two adult characters plus the narrator brought such life to the play as well. I can’t say that enough — this is most definitely a Broadway-caliber show!
There is a 15-minute intermission for scenery changes and potty breaks (if needed) and it’s a great time to go out and purchase a snack as well. We were able to bring them in to the auditorium, which was a plus for me. The second half of the show showcased dancing, singing, acting, and all around entertaining. I recommend 3 Days ’til Christmas! for children 4 years and older but only because the length of the show might be long for a toddler/preschooler. This is the company’s 19th year doing a Christmas show and they do a nice job of acknowledging their performers and thanking them for their hard work.
So give your holiday spirit a boost and purchase your tickets to see 3 Days ’til Christmas!
Photos courtesy of ETAP.
- 3 Days ’til Christmas! will be at the Ernst Cultural Center in Annandale on Friday, December 19th at 8pm; Saturday, December 20th at noon, 4 and 8pm and December 21st at noon and 4pm.
- Tickets are $19 for students and senior citizens and $23 for adults. You can purchase them online.
- Watch a clip of the show in an interview with Artistic Director Raynor Van Der Merwe and Holly Morris from Fox 5.
- ETAP partners with the Girl Scouts of America. You can find more information here, but they offer behind stage tours, meet & greets, intermission snacks, discounted tickets, as well as a patch they can earn. Sign your troop up! They’ll love it.
Photos by Elaine Simonsen.