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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.


Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Fairfax High School, Fairfax, Virginia, May 5, 2018

Donovan Fisher

Mount Vernon High School


Splash into a world of your wildest dreams with Fairfax High School's production of The Little Mermaid! Produced from Disney's adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale with the same name, this tale focuses on Ariel, a mermaid with the hope to interact with humans. She wants to be where the people are but is bound by a society who deems the humans as wicked. After she falls for the human Prince Eric, she must navigate through both sea and land to discover herself and chase after her love.


Kamila Adamczyk, the actress portraying Ariel, hit all the right notes in embodying the bubbly charm of the character. Wearing roller blades for much of the show, she effortlessly glides across the stage in full control of herself, bringing power to the character effortlessly. She's accompanied by a wide cast of companions throughout the show, most notably the crustacean composer Sebastian (Densmore Bartly, Jr.) and her enthusiastic friend Flounder (Seth Strong). Bartly captures the grandiose and dynamic nature of Sebastian with ease, always giving full energy to each scene he's in. Strong was able to portray the head-over-heels nature of Flounder with awkward, boy-ish charm, stealing the audience's hearts in numbers such as "She's in Love" with the help of an ensemble of captivating Mersisters.


For every group of heroes in these classic stories, there is always the timeless villain to combat them, and Ursula and her eels were a spectacular team to behold. Julie Kovach's portrayal of this classic villain archetype makes this character feel fresh, effectively commanding all her scenes with power and life, including the show-stopping "Poor Unfortunate Souls". The eels Flotsam and Jetsam (Tyna Hesser and Thomas Iodice, respectively) were some of the most electric characters to watch, and that's not just in the literal sense. The duo had amazing comedic chemistry, playing off each other flawlessly as they rode around the stage in Heelys to antagonize the leads with their dry wit and frequent antics.


Binding all The Little Mermaid together however was the gorgeous attention to detail the production designers put in. Costume designs were living organisms themselves, with the costume crew heads putting exceptional detail into each unique sea creature designed. The special effects team incorporated some of the most complex effects you'll ever see in a high school show, with the use of fly rigs to show Ariel swimming up to shore or Scuttle flying down to the land below. The systems worked astonishingly well, soaring characters through the sky with ease, looking as if done at a professional level. The lighting design was magnificent and intricate, utilizing over 250 lighting cues and a newly installed scrim to truly immerse the audience into the depths below.


Fairfax High School's enchanting production of The Little Mermaid takes everyone on a journey as part of their world, putting on a spectacular display of talent for the high school level. From the leads to the ensembles alike, the cast had a wonderful amount of energy and power in their movements to always keep the show moving and the audience engaged. The stylistic flair of the technical design encapsulates all key elements of the production, perfectly blending artistic ambition and practicality into a fusion of spectacle for all to behold. From a constantly energized cast to its elaborate tech, Fairfax High School's The Little Mermaid takes audiences under the sea for a show that will leave everyone spellbound beyond their wildest dreams!

Sumie Yotsukura

Our Lady of Good Counsel High School


A mermaid, her prince, an evil witch, and a multitude of sea creatures singing and dancing their hearts out—"what more is you lookin' for?" Fairfax High School takes their audiences under the sea in their vibrant production of Disney's adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid, bringing to life the colorful underwater realm of King Triton.


The story follows the mermaid Ariel (Kamila Adamczyk), youngest daughter of King Triton (Sebastian Newlin), as her curiosity about "The World Above" leads her to fall in love with the seafaring Prince Eric (Eli Nygaard). In her quest to have her prince, she trades her voice to her sea-witch-aunt Ursula (Julie Kovach) in exchange for legs—on the condition that Ariel wins a kiss from her prince within three days. Joining the princess are friends Sebastian (Densmore Bartly, Jr.), who is charged with watching Ariel, Flounder (Seth Strong), Ariel's companion who is hopelessly in love with her, and Scuttle (Parker Stephens), a supposed "human stuff" expert.


As merprincess Ariel, Adamczyk does a remarkable job; she elegantly spends all but the last minute or so of the first act on roller blades to better emulate a mermaid, all while singing and dancing, even performing a couple of tricky turns. Starring as villain, Kovach boasts a strong belt in songs such as the classic "Poor Unfortunate Souls."


The show also nicely showcases a striking supporting cast: Strong as Flounder, featured in the song "She's in Love" and supported by the exceptionally strong Mersister ensemble, brings an adorable touch to the young fish. Bartly as the crab Sebastian amuses and entertains, particularly in the visually stunning number "Under the Sea," which features virtually the entire ensemble. Stephens brings a strong and distinct voice and physicality to the eccentric seagull Scuttle, nicely performing the act two opener and tap number "Positoovity" along with his "Show Gulls," the show's dance ensemble. Ian Kirkland as Chef Louis has the audience rolling in the aisles during his song "Les Poissons" and its reprise as he caricatures a French chef who takes pleasure in violently preparing fish.


While the cast does a very admirable job onstage, it is the technical elements that truly make this production stand out from the crowd. As the overture played, the lighting team quickly established itself. They made nice use of custom-made bubble domes, lighting them with colored spots of light. But the real showstopper was the underwater lighting that spread over the whole stage area; the audience audibly gasped. The costumes also shone; each ensemble member wore a costume student-designed to evoke a specific sea creature, effectively creating a plethora of unique ensemble characters.


The crew also makes spectacular use of two fly rigs which are used to marvelous effect several times during the show, typically to showcase either Scuttle flying or Ariel going in between sea and land.


Also, of note are the "ORCA-stra" and the choreography, both done almost entirely by students. The "ORCA-stra" lusciously performs the Disney score, and the choreography makes extraordinary use of the large ensemble.


Fairfax High School's wonderful production of The Little Mermaid stuns, truly making us "Part of (their) World!"


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