'Encore!' follows high school graduates who have grown up to become police officers, stay at home moms, teachers, construction workers and magicians, among other professions. They reunite to put on their school musical - be it 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Grease', 'Annie', or another - from years ago. Kristen Bell hosts and acts as executive producer.
We all know someone who views their school days through rose tinted glasses. And we all know someone who goes crazy for Broadway and West End. Thus 'Encore!' aptly combines school nostalgia and passion for musicals, but even those who feel neither could find much to enjoy in the feel-good series.
There's something very accessible about the show's depiction of individuals who can't necessarily sing or dance, but just want to have fun. Participants discuss the relationships they've lost since high school while the talented leads of the shows reflect on how their Broadway dreams ended up being sidetracked. It's fascinating seeing adults reflect on the people they used to be. And it's comical seeing them dress up as children, for example, in the recreation of 'Annie'.
There are some sad reflections in 'Encore!' too, for example, one man talks of being insecure about having his hair cut because he had cancer in high school and lost his hair. Still another former student speaks of being bullied in school, which his former classmates were unaware of. In a warm up mindfulness exercise, tears are shed as the adults reflect on their insecurities and disappointments of the past and present.
We see the pressure the leads feel to carry the show. We also witness the exasperation of the directors and choreographers. They have to pull together a show in a matter of days, and with non professionals. But mostly this series aims to uplift and not dwell on the imperfections. Think of something more akin to the realistic objectives of 'Queer Eye'; not the bitchiness of reality series 'Dance Moms'. The show is full of personalities, for example, in the character actress in 'Beauty and the Beast'. The episode involving a wheelchair user is bound to make you grin through your tears. With all those feels, fans of this series definitely won't be limited to musical aficionados. But we warn you, there is a lot of singing.
The full series of 'Encore!' is available on Disney+ from launch Tuesday 24th March.