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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.

THROUGH THE CAPPIES

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.

HOW IT ALL WORKS

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.

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17Apr

Alice in Wonderland, Potomac Senior High School, Dumfries, Virginia, April 13, 2018

Audrey Brown

Wakefield School

 

"They ought to write a book about me! Maybe when I grow up, I will," said Alice from the stage of Potomac Senior High School. From beginning to end, the school's performance, painted in whimsical watercolor hues, told that story with a touch of wonder and an homage to the joy of childhood in their ambitious adaptation of the classic Alice in Wonderland.

 

Even without a specialized theater program at the school, Potomac's dedicated drama club displayed a commendable amount of commitment, creativity, and care in their creation of an entirely new script for the beloved childhood tale. The story was originally developed by Charles Dodgson, who concocted the fantastical universe for a friend's young daughter and later published it under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll; it was followed by countless literary, film, and stage adaptations. Potomac's production included everyone's favorite story of an imaginative young girl who follows a talking rabbit down a cavernous hole and embarks on a series of obscure adventures, like encountering enormous caterpillars and playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts, and it was revealed at the end in a glorious tableau that Alice's older sister Laurel had written the entire story while Alice was napping, forever memorializing the curiosity of childhood in the pages of her book.

 

Particularly deserving of mention was Alice herself, played by Mia Aragon, a freshman. Aragon displayed an impressive look into her character's mind as she developed lengthy monologues and portrayed Alice's growing maturity while exploring the eccentricities of Wonderland. Every member of the cast showed immense effort in his or her role, often taking on several characters and playing them each with devotion and polish even despite some minor technical issues, and any student that was not a focus in a given scene remained engaged and entertaining throughout.

 

Audience-favorite scenes included the tea party scene, in which the unruly band of the extravagant Mad Hatter, the rowdy March Hare, and the drowsy Dormouse shared stories and reveled under an enormous clock; the Queen's croquet scene, where the royal court and Alice, armed with flamingos and a pair of misbehaving hedgehogs, played a lighthearted game while ducking from demands to remove their heads; and the closing tableau, in which Laurel read the closing lines from her story as the whole clan of oddities reappeared onstage in a final tribute to childhood.

 

An especially impressive aspect of the show was the amount of detail that was present in set pieces, costumes, and props. A giant red mushroom made of cushions that supported the caterpillar and would allegedly help change Alice's size; bushes of white roses to be painted red that, with flaps of large leaves, cleverly hid cards' heads to help them avoid execution; and panels that showed tiny doors on one side and flipped to reveal themselves on a different scale and aid in the illusion of Alice changing size all showed the cast and crew's ingenious ability to make use of what they had and make an impact with simple set pieces. The tiniest details in props, like the steam coming out of teapots on the Mad Hatter's table, showed impressive attention, and even the simplest ideas, like Alice's overflowing tears being a sheet of waving fabric, were appreciated. Most ambitious of all, though, was the hair and makeup, and dramatic wigs made of paper and detailed animal faces like the Cheshire Cat's glowing grin inspired awe.

 

In all, Potomac Senior High School displayed commendable dedication in their performance of Alice in Wonderland, reliving childhood whimsy as the pages of Laurel's story came alive onstage.


Margarita Garmarnik

South Lakes High School

 

"Curiouser and curiouser!" Lewis Carroll's classic novel follows the young Alice as she leaves behind the boring world of reciting poems and learning arithmetic to discover the zany place known as Wonderland. Her transformative journey has inspired generations, with Potomac Senior High School's production proving no exception. This new adaptation maintained the integrity of Carroll's original work by highlighting his many creative instances of word play while also providing a modern twist to appeal to viewers of all ages.

 

Playing the title character of Alice, Mia Aragon displayed immense emotional variety and commitment to her role. Her youthful energy captivated and held the audience's attention until the very last bows were taken. Aragon led the cast through a river of tears, past the Mad Hatter's tea party, and finally to the Queen of Hearts' infamous rose bushes, all while staying true to Alice's childlike inquisitiveness. With believable expression and fluctuating vocal inflection as she encountered new faces and strange places, Aragon delivered a memorable performance as the joyful yet conflicted Alice.

   

Not only did Aragon demonstrate impressive acting abilities during her several earnest monologues, but also as she interacted with the numerous quirky inhabitants of Wonderland. Through her journey, Alice stumbled upon many curious personalities, among them being an eccentric flock of birds who were portrayed hilariously by Diamond Dell, Nia Tucker, Desiree Willis, and Alexis Ferrell. The group displayed electric chemistry through their fast-paced dialogue and coordinated movements.

 

Though she undoubtedly led the cast, Aragon was supported by a breadth of talented supporting characters and ensemble members. Playing the anxious bunny that led Alice to Wonderland in the first place, Annika Deomano was brilliantly frantic and scattered as the White Rabbit, constantly moving with purpose. Breyana Hopkins performed as the mature and collected Laurel before transitioning to her other role as the mischievous Cheshire Cat, where she assumed the feline characteristics and smooth tone of voice with ease. At the Mad Hatter's peculiar tea party, Josh Richert as the March Hare stood out for his eager line delivery and bouncy physicality.

 

Regarding technical elements, this show was exceptionally strong. The makeup design, executed by Taylor Aragon, was elaborate and vibrant, contributing greatly to the visual beauty of the production. The use of paper wigs for the Queen of Hearts (Taylor Aragon) and Duchess (Sydney Jones) was an innovative and effective choice that elevated the creativity of the makeup. The set had a consistent, muted pastel coloring that provided contrast to brightly adorned costumes designed by Abbigail Alm. The multifarious incorporation of props created by Annika Deomano was crucial to keep the story moving forward, as well as allowed for comical moments in the show. From precisely played sound cues, to quick and professional scene changes, Alice in Wonderland was technically excellent.

 

Potomac Senior High School performed this timeless tale about self-discovery and acceptance in a thought-provoking and enjoyable manner, confirming that the whimsical world of Wonderland is meant for all.

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