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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.


Sixteen in 10 Minutes or Less - Northwood High School - Silver Spring, Maryland - November 19, 2016

Bridgette Kontner

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

The tumultuous age of 16 cannot be described easily, but all the trials and tribulations of being a 16-year-old were perfectly captured in Northwood High School's production of "Sixteen in 10 Minutes or Less” on Saturday, November 19. A series of one-acts, they all tied together to accurately paint a picture of what it's like to be a teenager, as seen through problems with parents, friends, the Internet, and even yourself. Laced with humor but carrying a powerful message, the play offered insight into the characters' lives that the audience could undoubtedly relate to in some way.


Pulling out of the bounds of reality, the audience was delighted by the portrayal of Nikoleta Exis and Sarah Staggs as Laura's (Danielle Burman) two eyes, highlighting important internal struggles everyone faces in the one act "Lazy Eye". Exis was the perfect logical Right Eye, in stark contrast to Staggs as the more idealistic Left Eye. Underlining the important responsibilities both must undertake, the pair possessed impressive chemistry and charming antics. Laura, as played by Danielle Burman, was an essential part of this scene as well, as she reacted to what her eyes were doing, by yawning and rubbing them at times, and enhanced the entire interaction greatly.


The deepest insecurities of any teenager with the issue of divorce in their household were brought to light in the "Pay Phone" scene. James (Jackson Hawkins) is seen using a payphone to call home, but then arguing with the operator (Sarah Staggs), which turns out to be an extension of his own subconscious. Though touching on a very serious subject, the actors did so with the utmost humor. By making the audience laugh, the actors made the message sink in even more.


Bullying is a terrible challenge that teenagers must face too often, whether that be online or in person. The scene "Bench Warrant" made the audience shutter with its realistic representation of teasing and terrorizing. Laura (Nikoleta Exis) simply wants to sit on a bench to paint the tree in the distance, but is immediately picked on by Piper (Naomi Eskenazi) and her friends. The classic role of the "mean girl" was formidably enhanced by Eskenazi as she tossed around sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and flat-out mean insults.


In the one-act monologue, "Tumblefur," Danielle Burman shows another dimension of Laura. She walks her imaginary dog, talks to him, and reveals important things about herself to the audience. Burman plays this spectacularly. She enchants the audience and makes them laugh and empathize with her. She was the perfect mixture of goofy and genuine, and drew the audience in completely.


Each character brought something special to the show, each embodying a common struggle any teenager may face. The production of "Sixteen in 10 Minutes or Less" at Northwood was entertaining, but broached vastly important issues and relatable circumstances to everyone in the audience.

Katherine Byrnes

Connelly School of the Holy Child

"Status Update": Just saw Northwood High School's fabulous production of 16 in 10 Minutes or Less!


16 in 10 Minutes or Less, by Bradley Hayward, is a collection of short plays with intertwined storylines. Each scene revolves around one or more of the play's seven characters, with each character appearing in more than one scene. Northwood High School executed this with ease, juxtaposing the awkwardness of adolescence and the magic of teenage-hood, capturing the essence of being sixteen.


From scene to scene, the actors switched roles, portraying different characters. Although seeing different actors playing the same character proved, at times, confusing, each scene was still understandable and enjoyable. In the initial and concluding scenes, "Friend Request" and "Status Update," in which all seven named characters interacted on social media along with an ensemble of teenage friends, the actors' high energy, cohesive movements, and well-timed delivery of lines were notable.


Zachary Combs, who played the sixteen-year-old wheelchair bound Vance, realistically portrayed his character's emotions of hope, concern, frustration, and excitement. In "Double Click," Combs believably represented teenage emotions and used on-par comedic timing. The actress on the other end of his video call, Hannah Smith as Cindy, similarly graced the stage, performing with high energy and excitement. Smith's emotive facial expressions and delivery of lines accurately enveloped Cindy's superficial essence.


In "Lazy Eye," a scene in which actors portray the right and left eyes of sixteen-year-old Laura, Nikoleta Exis as Right Eye exhibited distinct development from an uptight and frustrated entity to a forgiving being who understood Left Eye’s plight. Sarah Staggs compellingly portrayed Left Eye, entrancing the audience with her wondrous and skeptical attitudes as the lazy eye. Although she didn’t speak during this scene, Danielle Burman as Laura showed strikingly expressive body language, which added to the scene’s charm.


Naomi Eskenazi as Brody in "Wheels" tackled a challenging role with ease as she portrayed a tough yet sensitive teenage boy with family difficulties. In "Pay Phone," a surreal scene in which young James calls his parents, who discuss their divorce. Jackson Hawkins as James, Sarah Staggs as Operator, Blake Johnson as Mom, and Neil Shrestha as Dad, displayed great chemistry and comedic timing while also embodying the more serious nature of the scene. The audience laughed throughout the scene while also contemplating James' unfortunate situation. In "Bench Warrant," a scene exposing cruelties that sixteen-year-olds can inflict on each other, Nikoleta Exis' as the sympathetic Laura, a victim of bullying, was impressive and heartfelt. In "Tumblefur," the only scene with just one character, Danielle Burman as Laura charmed the audiences with her innovative interactions with her imaginary dog.


Scene changes were efficient, allowing scenes to flow seamlessly. Although there were no sound effects during scenes, songs were played between scenes that related to the plot, such as "Life is a Highway" after the scene, "Wheels." This creative choice delighted the audience. The actors' lines were clearly heard, without any distracting sound difficulties. The simple yet effective sets made it obvious where each scene occurred but did not detract from the scene’s action.


"Brace Yourself," because Northwood High School's production of "16 in Ten Minutes or Less," captured the complicated age of sixteen and sure set off some "Fireworks!"


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