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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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25Feb

Moon Over Buffalo, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, Virginia, February 23, 2019

Grace Tarpgaard

George Mason High School

 

A cacophony of confusion had audiences laughing immensely at Lake Braddock Secondary School's adaptation of Ken Ludwig's iconic play, Moon Over Buffalo. First published in 1995, the play's Broadway debut marked the return of American sweetheart, Carol Burnett, after a thirty year absence and quickly became an American classic.

 

Set in 1953 in Buffalo New York, washed up Broadway stars George and Charlotte Hay deal with marital infidelities and financial troubles with a growing resentment towards young Hollywood, until they get a call from a famous film director named Frank Capra. This opportunity catapults them into a spiral of misunderstandings and drunkenness which makes for a hysterical experience for audiences of all ages to enjoy.

 

Lake Braddock took on this beloved show with excitement and vigor. The cast kept up the pace throughout the show with impeccable comedic timing, physicality, and dynamic relationships. Technical elements supported the cast's great work through well executed set and costume designs as well as strong lighting choices. Since Moon Over Buffalo is a period piece, both the cast and crew had to adhere to the styles and mannerisms of the 1950's. From the style of the costumes to how each actor carried themselves, it was evident that a considerable amount of time and research was used to carry out the accuracy of every little detail.

               

Leads Camille Neumann and Erik Wells, playing Charlotte and George Hay, were tasked with substantial stage time and the challenge of translating the comedy of misunderstandings to the audience. However, each actor used this challenge to their advantage. Neumann's classy yet sassy attitude amplified the comedy of her situation and engaged audiences through her execution of each and every punch line.

 

Wells' visible understanding of his character was impressive and added to the insanity of his progressive drunkenness. Audiences could always depend on him for a laugh, whether it be his crazy costume changes or quick zingers at the sleazy lawyer, Richard (Alazar Izedin). Together, the Hays couple's chemistry, though problematic, made for a dynamic and entertaining performance.

 

Stand out supporting character Paul (Adin Weingast) supplied personality and consistently comedic attributes to the show that had audiences laughing out loud. Landing every joke through hysterical facial expressions and physicality, Weingast's take on the chasing of ex-girlfriend Roz (Shyanne Hall) and blind following of George's (Erik Wells) will made a lovable character even more endearing. Needless to say, he was definitely a crowd favorite.

 

Costumes (Lauren Porter), makeup (Shyanne Hall), and sets (Erik Wells) brought the actors performances to a whole new level. The 1950's dresses and aging makeup made each character more believable and truly added to the timeliness of the show. The set translated the time period along with the financial state of the characters through run-down walls and a dingy staircase. Additionally, the use of many doors provided an important element of Ludwig's shows, allowing characters to come in and out multiple entrances, adding to the overall confusion of the plot.

 

Lake Braddock's Moon Over Buffalo gave audiences a classic American theater experience, making for a night of laughs and entertainment for everyone. Both acting and technical choices were well thought out and well executed, causing the confusion of the plot to be understandable and intentionally funny. Ludwig would be proud!


Maggie Landis

Thomas A. Edison High School

 

"The theatre may be dying," Ethel proclaims, lamenting to her granddaughter, Rosalind. The near-deaf, crotchety, cardigan-clad spitfire continues: "but it is still alive….It's our lifeline to humanity." With plenty of physicality, wit, and laughter, Lake Braddock Secondary School definitively proved that the theatre is not only alive but thriving, with their stellar production of Moon Over Buffalo.

 

Written by Ken Ludwig and debuting on Broadway in 1995, Moon Over Buffalo is a side-splitting comedy full of mistaken identities, unfortunate mishaps, and quirky characters. Charlotte and George Hay are traveling actors, suffering from marital dishonesty and lagging audiences. When their daughter, Rosalind, arrives to tell them about her engagement to Howard, an anxious weatherman, she runs into her ex-fiancé, Paul, and her mother walking out on her father. Charlotte returns to a drunken George thirty minutes before a big movie director is coming to their matinee performance of Private Lives. Or is it Cyrano de Bergerac? Even the actors of the Buffalo theatre company don't know, and chaos ensues.

 

With a cast of only eight actors, it would be easy to lose the energy of the show. However, the powerful unit maintained their enthusiasm throughout the play. Their pacing was spot-on, allowing each joke and movement to fall on the audience's eager ears in perfect succession.

 

As the leading lady and gentleman, Camille Neumann (Charlotte) and Erik Wells (George) shone as the off-beat performers. With great chemistry and impressive comedic timing, the duo created an absurdly dynamic relationship. Wells' excellent physicality brought his character to life, with dramatic stunt falls and ridiculous positions. On the other hand, Neumann's delightful speech provided humor in the moments her counterpart was not flopping across the stage in a semi-drunken state, bringing the aging actress to life.

 

Rosalind Hay, played by Shyanne Hall, has a complicated family, and her exasperation with show business was made clear through Hall's voice. When paired with Adin Weingast's entertainingly human portrayal of Paul, the pair expertly captured the essence of push-pull love. Weingast used masterful comedic timing to present the easily-flustered stage manager, and his delivery had the audience in stitches.

 

Other notable characters include Howard (Michael Totten) and Ethel (Erin Mullins). As the adorably awkward Howard, Totten's amusing switches between confidence and sheepishness developed a memorable performance. Meanwhile, Mullins's elderly Ethel delivered hilarious one-liners and created mayhem like a professional, adding to the mounting confusion within the play.

 

The set, designed and built by Erik Wells, consisted of multiple levels with five doors for the performers to enter and exit. Painted bright green, it aided the energy of the show and highlighted the physical comedy. Hair and makeup required 1950s-appropriate styles, which Shyanne Hall accomplished nicely. Clever, period-accurate props, including a rig for an exploding vase, and elaborately-planned costumes worked to bring the ‘50s to life.

 

Moon Over Buffalo is an uproariously funny play. The humor, heightened by impressive acting, expert pacing, and high energy, had the audience laughing consistently. Despite Ethel's cynical take on the death of the art, Lake Braddock's production confirmed once and for all that the theatre is alive and well in our schools.

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