His top hat and purple jacket were hard to miss.

And after Evan Brooks sang "Pure Imagination," an enthusiastic audience showed the Spring Grove senior his performance as Willy Wonka would not be forgotten.

"I'm a little nervous. This is my last chance to win," he said before going on stage.

Brooks was among 500 York County students who performed Sunday night in Encore, a musical theater showcase that recognizes young talent with awards.

"Even though awards are given, it's truly a celebration of talent in York County. It's such a huge endeavor to put on any production," said Lyn Bergdoll, artistic director and choreographer for the event.

Thirteen local high schools had performers at Encore: Central York, Dallastown, Dover, Eastern, Hanover, Kennard-Dale, Northeastern, South Western, Spring Grove, Susquehannock, West York, York Catholic and York Suburban.

This was York Catholic's first year performing in the show. Last year, Encore replaced the long-running Rosies, which had been held at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center every May.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for us," said Carlo Stebbings, director of York Catholic's "Beauty and the Beast." "It's all about the students, and I love that."

Encore is also a great way for his performers to meet other students who love theater, he said.


That camaraderie is one of the reasons Dallastown junior Vanessa Traugher said she loves the annual show.

She was there Sunday to perform as Little Red in her school's version of "Into the Woods" and first attended the Rosies in fourth grade, when she played Gretl in "The Sound of Music."

"It's cool to see snippets of so many shows and be with all of my friends on one night," Traugher said.

Central York junior Lauren Henning said being an ensemble member in her school's performance of "Spamalot" was allowing her to make new friends at Encore.

"It's an amazing experience," she said.

The sentiment was echoed by Ethan Ohl, a senior at York Suburban who performed a lead role in the school's performance of "Kiss Me Kate."

"It's great to see so many people from around the county and meet new people who love theater," he said.

The winners

Best Female Performers: Angel Harrison, Dallastown Area High School; Georgie Decosmo, Hanover High School; Jordann Smith-Kingston, West York Area High School; Emily Gibbs, Northeastern High School

Best Male Performers: Evan Brooks, Spring Grove Area High School; Patrick Mills, Central York High School; Brendan Warren, Dover Area High School; Zach Dodson, Kennard-Dale High School

Most Creative or Original Performance: Kennard-Dale High School for "Beauty and the Beast"

Best Production Number: Central York High School for "Spamalot"

Best Small Ensemble Performance: Northeastern High School for "The Sound of Music"

Best Dance Performance: Hanover High School for "Aida"

Judges' Award for Excellence: Spring Grove Area High School for "Willy Wonka, the Musical"

Best Overall Performance: Dallastown Area High School for "Into the Woods"

—Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.