Groundbreaking News!


Left to right, Robert McFate of The McFate Group, Aaron Vermeulen of OX Studio, and Encore Theatre Co-Founders, Dan Cooney, Anne Koch, and Paul Koch. Those golden sledgehammers will be getting a workout! Photo by Natalia O’Quinn.

The Encore Musical Theatre’s plan to move to their new home in Dexter is underway, and ground has been broken! Demolition began last week and the building’s first floor is no longer recognizable to those who knew it as Copeland School. The building served most recently as the administration building for Dexter Community Schools. A small ceremony was held on Thursday to commemorate the start of the work. Those in attendance included city officials, board members of The Encore Theatre, representatives from McFate Group, who is managing the project, Architect Aaron Vermeulen of OX Studio, The Sun Times News, and Encore Founders Anne Koch, Paul Koch, and Dan Cooney.

The Encore is in the midst of a campaign entitled "OUR NEXT STAGE". The capital campaign began in the fall of 2020 with the goal of raising $1.5 Million for Phase 1 of the project. Presently, gathered capital for the project totals $1.2 Million which includes The Maas Foundation Lead gift of $500,000, Several additional large gifts from individuals, and an outpouring of love and support from our patrons and the community.

Demolition has revealed a few surprises, including exposing the arch of the original entrance to the school. Encore plans to incorporate this feature into a modified design to preserve the history of the building.


Choked up and clearly emotional, Cooney addressed the small, masked crowd at Thursday’s event, “We produce theatre, but that’s actually a small part of our job, what we’ve learned over the years is that we are in the business of building relationships, and I just want to say on behalf of Encore, Thank You! All of you, because it is through these new relationships that this dream is becoming a reality. Without you, we would be bumping around in there, killing ourselves, this truly means the world, so thank you for your generosity, your kindness, and all of the extra hours – we look forward to continuing this relationship, Thank you so much!”

Cooney says that The Encore plans to open this summer depending on where we are with state restrictions and the comfort of our patrons. A 2021/2022 season announcement is coming soon.

To learn more about The Encore Theatre or to make a contribution, visit

The former multipurpose room is the future lobby.
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