Disney+’s ‘Encore!’ reunites Satellite High musical cast 21 years later

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There’s no bus’ness like show bus’ness!

21 years ago, classmates at Satellite High bonded as they put on a musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.” With the eagerness of youth, some of them dreamed of going to New York and becoming Broadway stars. Few other high school activities could attract kids from across all social groups and create lifelong friendships the way putting on a show could.

In “Encore!,” an original program on the Disney+ streaming service, executive producer Kristen Bell reunites former castmates of a high school musical and challenges them to recreate their original performance in just five days.

Satellite High’s 1998 cast of “Annie Get Your Gun” was selected to participate, with the help of Broadway professionals who came to the Space Coast in June to re-stage, rehearse and film the show. Episode 105 will be available for streaming on Disney+ on Dec. 6.

We chatted with Alfie Silva, who reprised his role of Frank Butler from his high school musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.”

QUESTION: Tell me about you experience with “Encore!”

ANSWER: It was surreal going back to my senior year in high school. It was kind of like being stuck in a weird high school dream, only my locker doesn’t open and I can’t remember my lines for a play, and now I’m 40 and not 17.

Q: How was Satellite High chosen for the show?

A: I had about 15 people send me an Instagram link to Kristen Bell’s page, that said she was doing a show called “Encore!,” and if you were the star of your high school musical, then you need to sign up. I thought, I guess I can take 15 minutes to fill this out, but I thought, they won’t pick our sleepy Satellite Beach high school. (In the application) I said that it was the last show that I did in a long string of high school performances, and the cast was very, very talented; Looking back, (we were) talented by today’s standards in my mind.

Q: Tell me about reuniting with your high school theater friends.

A: We have social media now, so you can sort of keep track, but there were some that I hadn’t seen on social media so that was fun. David Rossetti, [who played Charlie Davenport in the show] who was my closest friend in high school: That was my favorite homecoming reunion. We picked up exactly where we left off. It was cool to see that when you have a true friendship like that, time doesn’t change things.

Q: Was it the same with everyone in the cast?

A: It was somewhat like that across the board. But I think time no doubt changes people. Whereas someone might have been a very joyful person in their youth, now they might be a very level-headed, business-minded person. In high school, we didn’t think about our jobs. We were just thinking about performing and theater being our life.

Q: Most of the cast members did not go on to have careers as entertainers; You’re probably one of the exceptions. Did you feel more pressure or less pressure because of that?

A: Oh, dear god, I felt so much more pressure! My nickname in high school was “Mr. Broadway.” I think everyone was waiting to see if my talent still held up. I was very nervous. I felt like I was the reason “Encore!” chose us, and I was so concerned to not let anybody down. Also, for so many years, I’ve been an entertainer. I’ve had the wonderful ability to travel and perform as myself and have contact with the audience. Now I’m back to a musical setting where I can’t rely on my wit and my charm to win an audience over. I was very nervous to get back into a proscenium stage and do a full-fledged musical.

Q: And you had to re-learn the show in only five days. What was that like?

A: “Annie Get Your Gun” was compressed, with scenes cut, but I didn’t remember anything about the musical. So you take working on the show not even a quarter of the day, and the rest of it being filmed for a TV show and doing all the other stuff. It was extremely nerve-racking. We really only had maybe a day’s worth of time to learn the musical. I had to pull myself back and go, “Don’t get too hard on yourself.”

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Q: Would you encourage young people to get involved in theater, even if they don’t plan to pursue it professionally?

A: The number one reason I decided to do this was the overwhelming importance of the arts in our schools, and to show that theater changed my life. I was going to drop out of high school. I found a place where I was accepted, where I was good at something, where I was celebrated for my abilities and my talents, and I was able to create amazing things that could make people think. My whole message throughout the filming of “Encore!” was to have a platform to urge our lawmakers, our school board, our communities to celebrate the arts, and to urge our children to go into the arts. In the arts, we find that so many different personality types are able to be celebrated and allowed to exist without judgement. It changed my life.

How to watch

What: Encore! Episode 105: “Annie Get Your Gun”

When: Available on Dec. 6, 2019

Where: Disney+ streaming service

Featuring Satellite High 1998 alumni: Alfie Silva as Frank Butler; Laine Lewis as Annie Oakley; Ameigh Verderosa Worley as Dolly Tate; Chris Verderosa as Buffalo Bill; David Rossetti as Charlie Davenport; Chris Smith as Pawnee Bill; Gabriella “Bella” Mollica as Ms. Wilson; Julissa De Jesus as Mrs. Potter-Porter

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