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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.


The Monster Under the Bed, West Springfield High School, Springfield, Virginia, November 16, 2018

John Henry Stamper

Westfield High School


Have you ever feared the monsters under your bed? Fear no more! West Springfield High School's production of The Monster Under the Bed proves that the creatures living in the mess beneath your bed can harbor the greatest of friendships.


West Springfield High School's The Monster Under the Bed follows a boy named Ben and his adventures of exploring the monster-filled world beneath his bed, while learning to face his fears and treasure his friends, old and new. He swaps lives with his new friend, Monster, and things soon go awry for the dynamic duo once thrust into a world that is not their own. This cute children's play was written by Kevin Dyer and premiered in 2009 in the United Kingdom, only to become more popular from there.


This production was anchored on an active and energetic cast and an inventive, effectual set design. The large ensemble of school children was nothing short of entertaining. Even though they did not have a significant amount of stage time, they were all able to portray solidified, thought-out, and hilarious characters. The set design by Aidan Donohue was incredible, being able to depict the "underbed" and "overbed" innovatively; and the design eliminated the need for stage transitions altogether.


Connor Brunson's portrayal of Ben was enrapturing, capturing childlike imagination and creativity with ease, thus connecting the audience to his plight and making them all feel like kids again. Also, Sonya Maria Leon's portrayal of the Monster was captivating and charming. She crafted a character voice that resembles a kid-monster, and thankfully, was not harsh on the ears, which is quite difficult to avoid when embodying someone that is not human. Brunson and Leon's chemistry was absolutely believable, filling our hearts with their genuine and unlikely bond.


Created out of commonly forgotten items and standing at about 10 feet tall, Martin Desjardins had some literally big shoes to fill as Dad Monster, and he bravely and successfully did just that. Even though Desjardins was not physically seen on stage, he did a fantastic job personifying a giant heap of clothes and lost articles.


The ensemble of the puppeteers controlling Dad Monster and his surrounding piles of clothes performed a strenuous and difficult job impressively. With the combined efforts of the puppeteers, Desjardins expressive voice, and the quick light changes, a multitude of emotions were illustrated within Dad Monster. Also, the overall sound was expertly done. The microphones were not too loud, the quick and accurate sound effects only added to the show, and the music selection by Jonas Wagner was beautiful.


A combination of excellent technical aspects as well as stellar actors, West Springfield High School's production of The Monster Under the Bed touched the hearts of all the audience members, sparked that little bit of imagination within us all, and made us want to lean over and hug our friends.


Beverly D’Andrea

Westfield High School


 Where do missing jigsaw puzzles pieces or old watches without minute hands go? Where is it that even "woozles" and "grufelumps" fear to venture? West Springfield High School showed us, with innocence and purity, in their heartwarming production of "The Monster Under the Bed."


The show introduces us to Ben and the friendly, and mischievous, monster who lives under Ben's bed.  When the monster offers to switch places with Ben, madness and a roller coaster of laughs follow.  Ben meets the monster's father and the monster must cope with school and Ben's over-loving girlfriend.


The play was written by Kevin Dyer.  It was originally produced by the Polka Theatre in the United Kingdom in 2009. The show is light-hearted and funny and will engage audiences of all ages with its simple, effective humor.


The monster was played by Sonya Maria Leon, who drew the audience into her acting with her innocent, open face.  Leon played her character's rambunctious but genuine nature perfectly. She added the right blend of comedic timing and devilish, child-like mischief to sell an other-worldly monster as a perfectly natural phenomena to the audience.  Ben, the monster's friend, was played by Connor Brunson. Brunson used physicality and vocal changes to show the audience the mixed emotions of childhood freeness, and constraining sadness brought on by his father's absence. Brunson developed his character into a more confident Ben in the second act, showing the shift cleverly through subtle, but effective, differentiation in character choices.


Martin Desjardins was the voice of the father monster and his character was given a sense of life by skillful puppeteers Mia Bridges, Emily Norton, Kaitlyn Bourjaily, Sarah Oestereicher, and Jaye Frazier.  To make a puppet seem alive with mostly your voice alone is difficult, but Desjardins did a fantastic job, incorporating many vocal adjustments that made the puppet a gruff, yet likable character.  Desjardins's emotive voice and the puppeteer's realistic movements made Father Monster one of the most compelling characters in the entire show.  Celine, Ben's clingy girlfriend, was played to pouty perfection by Ashtyn Spring. Spring's dynamic, constant energy made her a believable child, and her confident pronouncement that she was going to marry Ben, "with a cake and in a church" drew many laughs from her audience. Spring showed her character's overbearing presence well through over top physical actions.  She established herself as the toughest kid on the playground when she pulled off very realistic stage combat in which she blackened Anthony's (Steven "Fish" Smith) eye.


This show is all about another world with monsters and make-believe, so the tech team had a real opportunity to add a lot to the story, and West Springfield's tech team did so impeccably.  The lighting, designed by Murtuza Rizvi, was used effectively to show the shift from the "over-bed world", the regular world, to "under-bed world", the world of the monsters. The set, designed by Aidan Donohue, also was cleverly crafted to show the two levels of the bedroom. The puppets and props, designed by Alanna Garagliano and Lydia Desjardins, were all created artistically and Sfunctionally, adding a lot to the wonder of the under-bed and the counterbalancing normality of the over-bed.


Using "refridgilators" and monsters in slow-motion dance as their tools, West Springfield created for their audience a truly beautiful, innocent, and genuine reminder of childhood joy


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