While the Tony Awards were celebrating the nation’s top theater talent, the Washington capital area hosted its very own celebration of up-and-coming theater talent. The National Capital Area Cappies celebrated the 2013-2014 Season with its 15th an Awards Gala Sunday, June 8th in the Concert Hall of The John F Kennedy Center fro the Performing Arts, in Washington, DC. The audience’s enthusiasm, performers’ flashy costumes and the well orchestrated evening gave strong indication that home grown theater is alive and well in the metro area.
Founded in 1999 by Judy Bowns and Bill Strauss, the Cappies program was formed to foster both the critical review of high school theater as well as to provide the adjudication foundation for the annual Awards Gala. Since then, the Cappies has grown to include thirteen regions in the United States and Canada representing nearly 300 high school programs. And with nearly 60 schools represented, this largest chapter’s gala Sunday evening was the culmination of a year that saw more than 7,000 involved students, either as critics or as cast and crew of reviewed shows, representing an estimated 25,000 volunteer hours invested in the program.
The Kennedy Center doors opened at 6:45 pm and the throng made its way into the house – the flood of ladies adorned in colorful gowns, young men sporting black-ties and fashionable suits joined by a select few in avant-garde attire thrown in for good measure. After meeting and greeting with fellow thespians, school representatives, drama teachers and supportive parents, the multitude filled the large room to capacity.
The gala kicked off with a rousing overture performed by the Cappies dancers and vocalists, supported by the student filled symphony and led by Music Director Chris Johnston. With Judy Bowns, Janie Strauss, and Ed Monk again serving as Masters of Ceremony, the evening saw the presentation of forty awards running the gamut from sound, set and stage crew to lead actor and actress and culminating in best song, play, and musical. In between, attendees were entertained by the performance of seven musical numbers and five scenes from award nominated plays.
Performance vignettes kicked off with “Potion Notion” from 9 to 5. The Fairfax High School students provided an innovative and fresh presentation from this 70s-style musical making it clear that an exciting evening was in store for all. Quickly following, Westfield High School presented “Dentist” from their fourteen-time nominated production of Little Shop of Horrors. While Brandon Sanchez gave a rousing rendition channeling the stylings of Steve Martin, the show’s doo-wop girl trio added the sass that took the number over the top.
But attention would not turn exclusive to the evening’s musical matter. The students from Washington-Lee High School laid claim to the stage as they brought a riveting and dark scene from Macbeth to life. And after seeing fellow thespians fall to their deaths during a fearsome stage combat sequence, the show’s sisters proclaimed that they would not go softly into the night. It was no surprise when, later, several associated with their production would be recognized with awards.
Brightness soon flooded the stage again as the West Potomac kids brought forward Spamalot’s “Won’t Succeed on Broadway” with, as required, over-the top word play and stylized movement (credit appropriately here to The Drowsy Chaperone). They also showed off the award-winning choreography of Kaila Anderson, nicely taken undertaken by a bevy of draedel-spinning, Yakima wearing hams, showing why the best choreography isn’t always the most complicated but that which can be most effectively carried off by its cast – no matter the ability level.
And while attention often turned to modern material, the tried-and-true in musical theater always has a place in audience’s hearts as evidenced by the inspiring performance of “Lida Rose” from The Music Man, performed by Annandale High School. The quartet of young men sporting white and sear-sucker suits recalled a bygone era when time moved more slowly and we could believe that barber-shop quartet’s might actually roam the street. As the last melodious chord hung in the theater air, the audience awarded the cast with more than just a polite round of accolades.
Between each performance, the parade of local dignitaries introduced and the cast of nominees faces shone brightly from the large screen over the main stage. The night was full of celebration.
And even as the evening continued into later hours, performances continued that wowed the audience and assured none would nod off. The Mclean High School troupe brought a true sense of Broadway to the stage with glittering costumes, beautiful girls, and even a group of dancing FBI agents. Their performance of “Don’t Break the Rules” from Catch Me If You Can, introduced by Lead Actor in a Musical award winner Alex Stone, left no doubt that professional quality theater was alive and well in DC metro area high schools. And as quickly as McLean’s eighteen-time nominated group highlighted entertainment of the spectacular, its rival, Langley High School, demonstrated the power of reality theater—that which forces viewers to take a hard look at the darker side of humanity, challenging us to consider the “other” and know that, in the end, the “other” that is part of each and every one of us. Their scene from The Children’s Hour provided strong testament to their recognition as Best Play received later in the evening.
As the crowd gave the last ovation and funneled into The Kennedy Center lobby, it was clear that the evening had, above all, borne witness to the celebration of theater in the DC area. It is well known that our nation’s capital has arrived as a theater hub, second to none outside of the Apple. Those celebrated and recognized at The Kennedy Center Sunday evening – the singers, actors, dancers, musicians, light crew, sound folks and props people, just to name a few – testify that the excellence in DC theater is not limited to the large venues nor even the impressive regional theaters we enjoy. That excellence is alive and well at the high school level and growing toward the professional stages in the future. Like the Tonys that would wrap up several hours later, the night was about the theater.
The full list of Cappies 2014 award winners appears below.
Sarah Santoro, Stone Bridge High School
Emma Paquette, McLean High School
Jamie Joeyen-Waldorf, Langley High School
Washington Post Critic
Yena Seo, Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology
Cappie Critic Team
McLean High School
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY
Gracie Denton, Jordon McCray, Ben Roberts, Peter Serle, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
Kimberly Fonseca, Lydia Bennsky, Hayfield Secondary School, Marvin’s Room
Kristen Chiama, Allison Tickner, Westfield High School, Little Shop of Horrors
Kristen Chiama, Allison Tickner, Westfield High School, Little Shop of Horrors
Lesya Melnychenko, Becky Lehner, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
Lecia Stock, Clare Smith, Nurbanu Dayaz, Charlotte Martin, Washington Lee High School, Macbeth
Stephen Cox, Sarah Dickenson, David Koenigsberg, Emily Tobin, Westfield High School, Little Shop of Horrors
SPECIAL EFFECTS AND OR TECHNOLOGY
Chantilly Tech Team, Chantilly High School, The Front Page
Darby Binford, Vicki Clinch, McKenzie Moskowitz, Marybeth Ward, Fairfax High School, 9 to 5: The Musical
West Potomac Rice and Beans, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
Kaila Anderson, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
Nate Welsh, Composer, H-B Woodlawn, The Tempest
ENSEMBLE IN A PLAY
The Sisters, Washington Lee High School, Macbeth
ENSEMBLE IN A MUSICAL
The Barber Shop Quartet, Annandale High School, The Music Man
Nikki Amico, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
Julian Sanchez, Westfield High School, Little Shop of Horrors
Gabrielle Bullard, The Madeira School, Footloose
Elijah King, Robinson Secondary School, Curtains
Alie Campbell, Loudoun Valley HS, Legally Blonde
Vinny Okechukwu, Heritage High School, Les Miserables
COMIC ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Cindy Funes, Hayfield Secondary School, Marvin’s Room
COMIC ACTOR IN A PLAY
Patrick Moore, Wakefield School, The Importance of Being Earnest
COMIC ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Paige Cilluffo, James Madison HS, The Music Man
COMIC ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Jack Gereski, South County High School, The Producers
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Lily Brock, Langley High School, The Children’s Hour
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Nicholas Cadby-Spicer, Wakefield High School, Rebel Without A Cause
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Grace Vaughan, Loudoun Valley HS, Legally Blonde
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Eddie Perez, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Alicia Hartz, Washington Lee High School, Macbeth
LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Stephen Coakley, Tuscarora, Noises Off
LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Samantha Dempsey, Westfield High School, Little Shop of Horrors
LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Alex Stone, McLean High School, Catch Me If You Can
“You Won’t Succeed On Broadway”, West Potomac High School, Spamalot
The Children’s Hour, Langley High School
Spamalot, West Potomac High School
‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ at West Potomac High School review on DCMetroTheaterArts by Jessica Poole.
‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’ at West Potomac High School-Saturday, May 3, 2014 Matinee Cast review by T.J. Gouterman.
Meet the Cast of West Potomac High School’s ‘Spamalot’ by Gracie Denton.
’9 to 5: The Musical’ at Fairfax High School review by Sophia Howes.
‘The Producers’ at South County High School review by Alyssa Denton.
‘Meet The Producers’ at South County High School: Part 1: Cameron Powell and Ethan Schulze.
Meet Ulla, Roger, and Franz of ‘The Producers’ at South County High School: Cara Bachman, Kyle McKnight, and Jack Gereski.