My Detroit Free Press preview of The Encore Theatre’s ‘Into the Wild’

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Conor Ryan stars in “Into the Wild.” (Photo by Michele Anliker)

When he was living in New York, Dan Cooney, a Broadway veteran performer from Michigan who co-founded Dexter’s Encore Musical Theatre Company in 2009, was tapped by former Yale School of Drama classmate Janet Allard for a couple of workshop readings and a demo recording of her brand-new musical, “Into the Wild.”

“And he kept saying, ‘You know, I have a theater in Michigan,’ ” says Allard, who wrote the show’s book and co-wrote its lyrics.

Cooney openly campaigned for Allard and composer and co-lyricist Nikos Tsakalakos to produce a developmental premiere of “Wild” at Encore, “and we took him up on it,” says Allard.

But why? What was the appeal of first getting the show on its feet in a small Michigan town?

“Frankly, because it can be developed out of sight,” says Cooney, who’s now based in Chicago. “This gives the creative team an opportunity to have some valuable time developing the piece without any pressure. Out-of-town tryouts at major venues such as La Jolla Playhouse or the Papermill Playhouse give projects major exposure and a first round of national reviews — oftentimes before they’re ready. … The idea of starting with a place like the Encore is to simply develop the piece, potentially capture some images or clips that might help it move forward and to invite producers that would potentially pick it up. A major regional theater company would be the next obvious step for ‘Into the Wild.’” READ THE REST HERE

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