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FOCUS ON 21st CENTURY LEARNING

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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23Apr

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland, April 21, 2018

Sarah Chopko

Bishop Ireton High School

 

"It was red and yellow and green and brown, scarlet and black and ocher and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and blue!"

 

Poolesville High School's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's operetta "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was just as bright and colorful as the coat itself. Opening in 1970, the show, which has few spoken lines, was composed by Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice ("Aladdin", "Jesus Christ Superstar") and explores different musical genres to tell the biblical tale of Joseph, son of Jacob. Joseph is the youngest of twelve brothers and his father's favorite, fostering enough envy in his brothers that they sold him. Joseph eventually reaches Egypt where he helps Pharaoh decipher his dreams and save Egypt from famine, earning Joseph a high rank. He later reunites with his brothers who are humbled and regretful, forgiving them and saving them from the famine.

 

The technical aspects of the show were solid. The set, although simple, functioned well with the changing songs and locations, and the changing colors corresponded to a different scene or song. The props were anachronistic and creative, especially the posters showing Potiphar's success and the Polaroid picture of the family. The costumes were cohesive and designated different atmospheres of the show, especially in the changing hats that the brothers wore.

 

The ensembles were strong as well. The Ishmaelites were particularly entertaining in their movements across the stage, and Potiphar/Pharaoh (Alex Adah) and his respective fan girls added more energy to the production. The brothers were phenomenal in their acting, maintaining a unified, familial bond with each other without losing any of their own individuality. The harmonies blended perfectly in all the songs, even giving the audience goosebumps in a rare acapella moment. Simeon (Cole Taylor) in "One More Angel in Heaven," Gad (Reid Taylor) in "Those Canaan Days" and Dan (Kadin Broadhurst) in "Benjamin Calypso" were distinctly humorous and expressive in their solos, leading the brothers and the audience through the different genres.

 

Finally, some leads deserve distinct recognition. Potiphar's wife (Calley Mullins), despite having no lines or solos, was a standout in her seduction of Joseph. Both of the narrators (Mikayla Durr, Mel Staszewski) had beautiful voices, hitting all of the high notes and not tiring throughout the vocally strenuous show. But the star of the show was Joseph (Ben Gherman), whose soft voice was full of emotion and energy throughout the show, whose character was as bright as the shimmering costumes, and who played Joseph as more than a one-dimensional character as seen in "Close Every Door."

 

All in all, Poolesville did a truly excellent job in their execution of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", but more importantly in keeping the show enjoyable for both the cast and the audience.


Julia Sands

Falls Church School

 

Many of us may know the story of Joseph and his rainbow coat as a classic tale from the Torah or Old Testament. The familiar story is one of arrogance and envy, but also of hope and forgiveness. In Poolesville High School's production of "Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," that story comes to life with as much colorful vividness as its namesake fleece.

 

The story follows Joseph (Ben Gherman), his father's favorite son out of 12. When his father gifts him with a rainbow coat, his brothers (Michael Sabett, Cole Taylor, Adam Berenzweig, Jacob Pelzman, Colleen Heuting, Cathryn Televen, Kadin Broadhurst, Sarah Patch, Reid Taylor, Aiden Auel, and Jirah Villajuan) grow jealous and sell him to some slave traders. More conflict follows him there, but he works his way up the ladder by interpreting dreams until he is the Pharaoh's chief financial advisor. When Joseph's brothers arrive to request financial assistance, he forgives their past transgressions and the family reunites.

 

In Poolesville's production, the role of the narrator is split  by Mikayla Durr, whose clear soprano carries the story along, and Mel Staszewski's bubbly character who enhances the accompanying chorus. While most solo numbers were sung by capable performers, the show's strength lies in its vibrant ensemble (Skylar Chan, Anshul Chatterjee, Nicole Duran, Anthony Fuster, Alyssa Gribov, Isabel Huntley, Aniqa Slam, Brooke Speed, Jacob Bonhomme, Phoebe Kantor, Leeah Derononcourt, Maria Guo, Julia Pavlick, and Lauren Perl). As performers, the ensemble was bursting with an energy and enthusiasm that eclipses any moments of weak choreography. As singers, they chorused  with a perfection that nears a professional level.

 

The ensemble of Joseph's brothers stood out as exceptionally strong performers. They transitioned from several different types of genre of music ranging from country to calypso. With each song, several brothers in particulate stole the scene. Simeon (Cole Taylor) and (Naphtali) entertained with southern accents and over-exaggerated weepy country singer mannerisms in "One More Angel in Heaven.. Similarly, Mrs. Potiphar's (Calley Mullins) seductive yet menacing body language makes her the perfect villainess in "Potiphar." However, the production was not made complete by acting alone. The Poolesville Orchestra Pit accompanied the performance without missing a single note and seamlessly supported the cast without overpowering them.

 

The musical was greatly enhanced by its technical aspects. The show's simple but colorful set (constructed by Bian Abbey, Alex Foster, Alex Jinn) allowed for great dimension and dynamic use. The set's efficient managing by Maddy Peek and Andrew Pfeiffer allowed for smooth scene transitions. Anachronistic costuming and props added comical touches to the performance ex: Joseph and his brothers wear matching baseball caps in B.C.E. Canaan.

 

Whether the tale resonates with you on a spiritual level, this story of human compassion triumphing over greed and arrogance is one that inspires awe just as it makes us laugh. The fable of one man rising to power by wits and kindness alone is one that resonates with humanity on a primordial level, granting it immortal appeal. Poolesville High School's production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is that tale, and one cannot watch it without feeling that much needed surge of hope in a world of constant dismay.

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