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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.

05May

The Addams Family, Woodgrove High School, Purcellville, Virginia, April 28, 2018

Claire Poirier

Loudoun Valley High School

 

They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky, the Addams family! One normal night is not in store for the cast of the Addams Family at Woodgrove High School. Follow a tale of love, family politics, dead people, and Spanish steel as this comically dark family tries for the sake of their daughter, Wednesday, to be something that they have all been avoiding like the plague for years: being normal.

 

The Addams Family musical premiered on Broadway in 2010, composed by Andrew Lippa and written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The musical is based on an iconic family with a taste for death from Charles Addams's single-panel cartoons, which eventually spawned a tv series and other adaptations. The tale centers around grown-up Wednesday Addams who wants to get married to a boy named Lucas, but first she wants to have him and his parents over for dinner to ensure the families can get along. As the entire family attempts to act normal for the dinner, secrets are revealed, marriages are threatened, and chaos reigns.

 

Their dark affinities aside, the show is incomplete without one of the arguably most romantic couples of all time: Gomez and Morticia Addams. Gomez Addams (Lukas D'Errico) shined as the vocal powerhouse of the show, captivating the audience whenever he sauntered on stage. His consistent and believable accent only enhanced his character, causing him to radiate pure magnetism. He also displayed Gomez's softer side, evident in numbers like Happy/Sad where he and his daughter Wednesday (Miranda Huffer) made every father and daughter pair in the audience sigh, reminding them of the special love between a father and his child. His on-stage connection to his family did not stop with Wednesday. His chemistry with Morticia (Carolina Kirkpatrick) was undeniable, as the two embodied zest and romantic tension in numbers like Tango de Amor. Kirkpatrick ensnared the audience with her vocals and the swing of her hips, walking in a way that made her seem older and quite terrifying to anyone that stood in her way.

 

An array of superb supporting actors can make a show truly memorable. Alice Beineke (Grace Harkins) had a powerful belt that soared across the stage, marking her transformation from a repressed housewife to the woman that she was always meant to be. Her husband, Mal (Ricky Byrd) portrayed the stiff stereotypical businessman until he truly blossomed when he donned his Grateful Dead t-shirt. Uncle Fester (Jonathan Wilkerson), acting as the narrator of the show, was nothing short of adorable, making the audience audibly aw and giggle whenever he was on stage. His love affair with the moon is truly a love for the history books. Dragging herself along was the eccentric 102-year-old grandma (Caroline Roden), tricking the entire audience into truly believing she was an old woman, causing hysterics by milking every single moment she was on stage.

 

No show is complete without strong technical elements, like the set and makeup. The set dominated the stage, including moveable staircases that were utilized brilliantly throughout the show. The makeup highlighted the dead and the undead, making the ancestors look emaciated and disturbed and creating the impression that even the living had a connection to the dead.

 

The Addams Family is unique and weird and that is just the way they like it. The musical demonstrates that what makes us special is what is different about us, and that is just the way it should be. As Morticia says, "what is normal for the spider is a calamity for the fly."


Nick Tortora

Loudoun Valley High School

 

"When you're an Addams," you have incredible command of stage and stunning vocals, and that's just what the students of Woodgrove High School proved in their production of The Addams Family. Darkly comedic, Woodgrove High School didn't hesitate to emphasize mature moments of innuendo, giving the actors something fresh to work with and enhancing the atmosphere of hilarity.

 

Based on the 1964 TV show, The Addams Family opened on Broadway in 2010 with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It features the iconic family, but something is horribly wrong: Wednesday is happy and in love. As her family discovers her affections for Lucas Beineke, they each react melodramatically, and hilarity ensues at the families' joint dinner, teaching the characters and the audience not only the importance of love and connection but also the power of honesty in maintaining it.

 

Lukas D'Errico as Gomez Addams riveted the audience with his 4th-wall-breaking solos, appearing much older and more mature than his age and exuding a powerful fatherly energy that made for a heartwarming connection with his daughter, Wednesday. D'Errico and his wife, Morticia (Carolina Kirkpatrick), forged a feisty, teasing relationship that made the two of them a tango-ing pair no one could rip their eyes away from. In her own right, Kirkpatrick was stunning in her stage presence and vocal ability. She used every part of her being, physical and mental, to take control of each situation, complementing her character and her dynamics with others.

 

Providing a sharp contrast to the dark horrors of the Addams family, Alice Beineke (Grace Harkins), Lucas's mother, radiated cheerful energy, until one accidental drink of ‘acremonium' let out not only the dark side of Alice, but Harkins's powerful voice as well. In her song "Waiting," Harkins belted her woes through the auditorium, leaving jaws dropped in the audience. Her husband Mal (Ricky Byrd) went through a similar although opposite change, moving from stiff and skeptical to free and young again. With the addition of a Grateful Dead t-shirt, Byrd's character became the fun, spontaneous spirit he once was. Overall, Harkins and Byrd's abilities to create change in their characters allowed the relationship between the two to reinvent itself beautifully over the course of the show.

 

Not to be lost in the background, Grandma Addams (Caroline Roden) knew how to make a moment for herself, stealing scenes in all the right ways and playing up her ripe old age of 102 in her stage movement. Right alongside her, Pugsley Addams (Rachel Wilkinson) was convincingly young, childish, and squeaky in personality. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Uncle Fester (Jonathan Wilkerson) appeared older than the rest of the family; with the notable exception, of course, of Grandma. Overall, the multi-generational aspect of these three characters allowed the Addams family to be just what they are; a family.

 

A stunning, two-story set framed the Addams household, allowing for an excellent use of space by the actors. On point lighting shifts allowed the audience to know where the focus was and what environment they were in, especially during Gomez's 4th wall breaks. Clear sound and a balanced orchestra allowed the story to be heard and understood, with all its witty one-liners coming through in full hilarity.

 

Woodgrove High School's production of The Addams Family gave the whole package: it amused, it depressed, it was rambunctious, it was somber. In the end, of course, none of that matters; after all, "death is just around the corner."

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