Applications for the 2020-2021 Cappies season are due by September 22, 2020. All Critic information must be included in the applications.

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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.


School applications are now being accepted for the current season. Click below to begin the application process.


We are currently in the process of bringing reviews online for the current season. Keep checking back for updates.


Previous year award nominees and recipients will be posted shortly. Please keep checking back for updates.


Please feel free to reach out to us by e-mailing AdminNCA@cappies.org with any questions you may have. If you'd like to view a full list of contacts, click the link below.

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Robert E. Lee High School - Springfield, Virginia - November 18, 2017

Henry Trochlil

Loudoun Valley High School


If you were to go back in time and tell Shakespeare that one of his shows would be adapted into a "galactic retro-futurism" setting complete with Star Trek inspired costumes, black lights, and disco balls - he probably wouldn't understand a thing you said. Nevertheless, just because the old man wouldn't get it doesn't mean it wouldn't work, and Robert E. Lee High School's performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream proved just that. Taking the classic show of love, comedy, humans, and mischievous sprites and throwing it into a much more contemporary style setting, it perfectly blended the mystifying, spectacular world of science fiction with the beautiful, eloquent language of Shakespeare; a somewhat unprecedented but entertaining mixture.


A Midsummer Night's Dream follows three simultaneous plot lines throughout the story, and all three were entertaining, funny, and engaging. The most prominent plot is that of the four lovers, Lysander (Daniel Burgess), Demetrius (Jacob Durish), Hermia (Remy Thompson), and Helena (Leah Block) who all had excellent stage chemistry and stage presence. Lysander especially exhibited full control and understanding of the language and always had an impressive energy and commitment to character. Helena was also a stand out due to her consistent humorous tone throughout the show. The second plot of the story consisted of the supernatural characters, including Oberon (Preston Cubbage), Titania (Skyler Estrella), and Puck (Kennedi Roland). Roland truly embodied the role of Puck, always energetic, captivating, and impish. The final plot was of the masters putting on the production Pyramus and Thisbe for the Duke. This group provided the most consistent humor for the audience, with Nick Bottom (Fredric Marquez) often leaving the audience in stitches with his excellent comedic timing and delivery, as well as his commitment to being an ass.


Alongside the impressive acting were the equally notable tech elements. The set truly encapsulated the theme of the show, with colors and construction that fascinated and bewildered. In addition to the set was a light show equal to that of a rock concert. A disco ball was used multiple times during the show and it only further increased the levels of energy and entertainment. Finally, the costumes and makeup were the icing on the cake. The makeup was striking and certainly helped to make every character unique, while the costumes effectively communicated the relationships among the different characters and groups of the show.


All in all, despite a thematic choice that may seem strange at first, Robert E. Lee High School's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is a show that proves that the great works of William Shakespeare can still be delightful, entertaining, and understood by a modern audience without sacrificing the integrity of the art.

Elizabeth Waldt

West Springfield High School


Get ready to be launched into space! Robert E. Lee High School's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" takes place on an obscure planet, offering the perfect blend of Shakespeare's timeless classic with space age sci-fi.


 "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written around 1596, and continues to be one of Shakespeare's most popular works. The play follows three interconnecting plots as the many characters make their way through the mystical woods. At the center of the plot are Theseus, Duke of Athens, as he prepares for his marriage to Hippolyta. Surrounding them are four young lovers, six amateur actors, and a group of magical beings, all wandering aimlessly through the deep, dark woods. With this many people lost in the forest, chaos is bound to follow.


As the forbidden lovers, Hermia (Remy Thompson) and Lysander (Daniel Burgess) convinced the audience of their endearing and  winning chemistry. The duo lusted after one another in every scene, making it hard to believe they were not truly in love. Portraying Hermia's true fiancé Demetrius was actor Jacob Durish, who showed tremendous stage presence as he coveted Hermia. All eyes were on Durish as he tried to persuade her to his side. Demetrius was not the only person experiencing unrequited love. Helena (Leah Block) complicated matters further as she reveals her infatuation with Demetrius. Block expertly portrayed the deep insecurity of Helena though her withering, timid physicality. Together, the actors used excellent articulation and motion to help the audience understand the complex Shakespearean language.


The six inexperienced actors offer comic relief to otherwise serious scenes. Nick Bottom (Fredric Marquez) delivered a melodramatic performance as the lead actor in the amateur company. His dramatic pauses and over the top gestures kept the audience rollicking throughout the entire performance. Snug (Khue Duong) was an impressive foil to Nick, as her apprehensive movements and lines contrasted his extravagant performance.


 "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is made even more interesting by its group of devious, magical beings. Titania (Skyler Estrella) demonstrates total confidence as the Queen of the Fairies. Her charismatic and quirky stage presence draws all eyes to her as she casts spells on unexpecting passersby. The King of the Fairies, Oberon (Preston Cubbage) drew notice with his dark and mysterious persona. As the rulers of the fairies, Oberon and Titania enchanted the audience with their dedicated performances.


This interesting production takes place on a remote planet, Titoberon, instead of a normal forest. The unique set added different levels to the show, allowing actors to interact with the stage in new ways. The carefully planned lighting brought color to the planet of Titoberon. The lighting crew creatively used a disco ball to rotate lights around the theater, leaving every audience member in awe. Outlandish makeup was embodied the futuristic theme, creating geometric patterns and bright policies on the face of every actor. In addition, the imaginative designs helped distinguish each individual character, creating a unique overall look.


Robert E. Lee's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was an interesting take on a classic work. With a talented set of actors and crew, this production was out of this world!


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