‘Encore!’ Is a Show Close to Kristen Bell’s Theater-Loving Heart

Kristen Bell is on top of the world right now.

As the much-beloved star of NBC’s philosophical comedy The Good Place, she’s commanded the world’s attention. In addition, kids everywhere recognize her as the voice of Anna from Disney’s Frozen (and its much anticipated but perhaps lackluster sequel).

She’s also in a marriage with Dax Shepherd that has people everywhere dubbing the duo as relationship goals. To put the cherry on top, she has a cult following of fans who best know her from the television series Veronica Mars. 

Her newest project, though, is one that has to be among the most exciting for her. It gets her back in touch with her theater roots and puts her into some unexplored territory to stretch her skills. 

Kristen Bell has a deep theater past 

Kristen Bell on the red carpet
Kristen Bell | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Acting was a huge part of Bell’s life from her earliest days. She played Dorothy in the production of The Wizard of Oz put on by her Catholic high school in Michigan. Beginning at the age of 13, she was working with an agent to land television commercials for companies like OfficeMax.

Bell studied musical theater at NYU and was still a student at the school when she made her first Broadway appearance. The play was a musical version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and her career was just getting started. 

Her acting career exploded 

She was cast as Susanna Walcott for the play The Crucible in 2002. She performed alongside heavy hitters like Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. She followed up this successful role with a guest spot on the crime show The Shield

From there, her television career snowballed into successively more prominent roles. In 2004, she landed the lead role in Veronica Mars. Film opportunities followed that runaway success, and she truly flexed her acting muscles, starring in comedies, dramas, and (of course) musical hits like Frozen

The new show revisits her roots

Bell will be hosting and executive producing Encore, a new show that will allow her to return to her theater roots with a fresh new spin. The documentary-style series is going to follow a high school theater cast as they reunite to perform the same play they put on as seniors … 20 years later. 

Bell opened up about how important it was to select a cast that would really bring a spark of magic to the show. “You need a diverse group of people that had lives that both intersected and did not in high school,” Bell explains.

She went on to hint that the show would be as much about the interpersonal lives of these former classmates as it would be about the re-creation of their play.

“We loved the fact that there was an ex-couple in the show; we loved the fact that some of the people didn’t talk or hang out — that they were in different friendship circles — we loved the fact that there was a woman who was pregnant, willing to tackle [it] again. We wanted to not only watch them re-perform the show but also experience each other again.”

Fans can expect a heartwarming performance 

While much of American reality TV has the reputation of being cutthroat and at times brutal, fans can rest assured that Encore will bring a heartwarming tone. While there will surely be some miscues as performers who have not been on the stage in two decades try to re-learn lines and negotiate the space with one another, Bell assures fans it will be a positive experience. 

“[W]e never, ever want to do anything too negative,” she says. “That’s not musical theater. Musical theater is an incredibly positive experience. It’s certainly where I discovered who I was and discovered my self-esteem, and we wanted to keep it that way.”