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The Cappies is a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders. Student critics vie to be published in local media outlets by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews.


Theatre and journalism students are trained as critics and attend each others shows. Cappies students discuss and learn about theatre production. Throughout the year, newspapers publish the reviews with the students' bylines. At the end of the year, Cappies student critics decide who among their peer performers and technicians should be recognized for awards at the end of the season with glamour and excitement.


Each participating school selects a show to be attended, and also forms a team of 3 to 9 student critics and 2 adult volunteers in the fall. Shows may have between 20 and 90 critics in attendance. Critic teams and mentors gather in a private discussion room to perform pre, mid, and post show discussions. The technical and performance aspects of the show are discussed with provided documentation from the host school.

After each show, with adult oversight, the mentors and program director select the best written reviews to be sent to local press outlets. All the reviews are also sent back to the performing school.

At the end of the season, a Tonys-like celebration occurs, where all nominated shows perform a cutting or the critics' choice song, and the final Cappies awards are presented with a trophy by regional critics and peers.


Frankenstein - Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School - Dumfries, Virginia - November 18, 2017

Emily Smith

Lake Braddock High School


The roaring thunder, piercing screams, and flashing lights gracing Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School's stage Saturday night could only mean one thing--Frankenstein's Monster is on the loose. The cast and crew managed to create an elegant and spine-tingling performance, sending shivers down the spines of even the bravest audience members.


Based on Mary Shelley's book of the same name, Frankenstein is the classic cautionary tale of becoming too invested in the idea of creation. This version was adapted by Thomas Olson, and at one point was a nationally-broadcast CBS special. Frankenstein is the story of the brilliant Victor Frankenstein, who becomes obsessed with reviving the dead after his mother's demise. Frankenstein reanimates a stolen corpse, but abandons the creature when he sees his disfigured face. The Creature ventures across the countryside, spreading fear and horror then returns to seek vengeance. The Creature murders Frankenstein's fiancée and best friend before taking its own life.


This chilling horror story was led by the talented Richard von Tersch in the role of Victor Frankenstein. Peering out from behind his horn-rimmed glasses, von Tersch expertly captured the tortured, passionate intellectual at the heart of Dr. Frankenstein. His creature's stunted speech and lurching motions, crafted by Joseph Coyle, complemented this performance. Coyle embodied the unsure monster with every step, grunting and swaying yet compellingly graceful. Frankenstein's fiancée Elizabeth, played by Madison Perry, was another standout performer. Her voice, blissful with kindness and emotion, brought tenderness and love to an otherwise cold story about scientific discovery and madness. Toothpick-wielding, swaggering Ernst, played by George Howard, carried with him a cool and nonchalant air that added to the depth and texture of the play.


The haunting, romantic atmosphere so critical to Frankenstein could not have been created without the marvelous sound design team. The music underscoring the most dramatic scenes, chosen by Andre Morales and Adam Vitkovitsky, raised tension levels to dizzying heights. The team expertly handled the heavy use of voice-over, editing the recordings so delicately that the characters seemed to be speaking directly to the audience. Frankenstein also benefited heavily from the labors of its fantastic props team. Props, designed by Sarah Daly, Elizabeth Hawk, Anjoleigh Schindler, and Jaqueline VonTersch, looked to be nearly professional quality. They included perfectly worn books adorning Victor's shelf, pistols aimed at the Creature, and a guitar.


Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School managed to perfectly encapsulate the aesthetic and mood of this classic romantic story. It was clear that, much unlike Frankenstein's Creature at the heart of the story, this was a labor of love.

Caroline Thompson

Falls Church High School


Every day we walk the tightrope of life.  Some days we teeter and almost lose our balance.  Some days we walk triumphantly across.  But for every one of us there come that fateful day when the rope snaps.  It is said that our souls either transcend to the heavens above or plummet deep down to the depths of hell below.  From life to death.  That is the way things are meant to be.  But things are not always as they are meant to be. 


From the mind of the brilliant science fiction author Mary Shelley, comes the tale of a doctor whose life is a rapid succession of things not meant to be.  Written in 1817 and published on New Year's Day, 1818, Frankenstein became one the world's first horror novels.  From a dream to a book to the stage, Frankenstein has been a beloved classic for centuries.  Directed by Mr. Stephen Keane and put on by Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, this classic was brought to stirring life in their rendition of Frankenstein. 


This tale of tragedy and horror was intended to provoke the mind and prickle the hairs on the back of one's neck.  This was achieved by the dismal tones that filled the air.  The sound team carried the audience from one scene to next capturing the mood flawlessly every time.  The gruesome moulage of The Creature seized the imaginations of the audience.  The glowing red heart with its sapphire veins and ruby arteries was the perfect touch to the ominous atmosphere. 


By no means could the task of understanding the melting pot of emotions felt by The Creature have been an easy one.  But Joseph Coyle presented these with much fervor and dedication.  From his electrified awakening to his fiery death, Coyle was committed to becoming The Creature.  His body language added much to the character and his acting was well thought out and executed.  The Creature and his creator, Victor Frankenstein, played by Richard von Tersch, were a dreadful duo, to say the least.  Together, the two created a few compelling scenes that snapped the audience right back to their dire reality. 


The ill-fated lover of Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, was played beautifully by the soft-hearted Madison Perry.  Consistently, Perry presented Elizabeth as true, pure, and only with good intentions.  She carried herself as the sweet yet subtly witty Elizabeth until her doomed wedding day where death in the form of The Creature came knocking at her door.  The kind soul of Elizabeth was matched only by that of Justine Moritz played by Sophia Barrick.  She too did a wonderful job of conveying the innocent but condemned heart of Justine. 


The show would not have been nearly as successful as it was without the magnificent sound crew.  Their choice of music was so perfectly on par with the show that it practically conveyed every word and emotion spoken on stage all by itself.  The lighting, although a little spotty and strange in color choice at times, was successful in putting the focus on whoever was speaking.  The set, albeit lacking in detail, was varying in levels which added depth of the stage. 


From death to life and life to death, The Creature walked a most agonizing walk on the tightrope of life.  In the end, The Creature and his already dead creator left this world in a blaze of heat and the world was once again as it was meant to be. 


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