X
GO
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.

SCHOOL APPLICATIONS NOW ACCEPTED

School applications are now being accepted for the current season. Click below to begin the application process.
GET STARTED

CURRENT REVIEWS NOW AVAILABLE

We are currently in the process of bringing reviews online for the current season. Keep checking back for updates.
ACCESS SCHOOLS

AWARDS PREVIOUS SEASON

Previous year award nominees and recipients will be posted shortly. Please keep checking back for updates.
ACCESS AWARDS

CONTACT US FOR ASSISTANCE

Please feel free to reach out to us by e-mailing AdminNCA@cappies.org with any questions you may have. If you'd like to view a full list of contacts, click the link below.
CONTACT LIST
15Apr

West Side Story, Rockville High School, Rockville, Maryland April 12, 2019

Isabella Walrath

Oakton High School

 

Two gangs, both alike in dignity, in fair Manhattan, where we lay our scene. From ancient racial divide break to new mutiny, where civil rumbles make civil hands unclean! Rockville High School snapped, leaped, and spun through their vibrant and thrilling production of West Side Story: School Edition.

 

Inspired by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story follows Tony and Maria, a pair of star-crossed lovers from opposing gangs, whose desperation to be together leads to misadventured, piteous results. The classical tragedy was first modernized in the 1957 Broadway musical, and the production was nominated for six Tony awards, winning Best Choreography and Best Scenic Design. The musical was later revived in 1964, 1980, and 2008. One of the most recognized mediums of the story, however, is the eponymous 1961 film adaptation that won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

 

Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria... Enchanting and innocent, Gabriela Sanchez breathed life into the production as Maria. Her strong stage presence came from her consistently high energy and vivid expression, which made the familiar show captivating and refreshing. Sanchez's voice was well-suited for the high soprano part, particularly in "One Hand, One Heart," where Sanchez expertly blended with Tony (Jacob Lunsford) to produce an intimate scene while the audience peeked in upon them. Continuing to impress, Sanchez's diction was crisp and pronounced, a detail that became noticeable in the fast-paced production.

 

Riff (Dylan Hawkins), Action (Luke Marple), Snowboy (Esther Frances), and Anybodys (Genevieve Hill) built off each other's energy with a natural, boyish chemistry as the quartet of Jets discussed Tony's gang involvement, as well as the ominous rumble. Hawkins' natural leadership and strong vocals, Marple's hilariously taunting nature, Frances' spot-on impersonations, and Hill's "chip-on-shoulder" attitude contributed to each character's unique persona. Most notable of the four was Marple; whether pleading to a judge, psychiatrist, or social worker, his endless antics and comical turnarounds in "Gee, Officer Krupke" lightened the load of the heavy show while saying "Krup you!" to the corrupt officer.

 

Other notable performances include that of Anita, as played by Donna Mbulaiteye. With a serious tone and reserved manner, the weight of the character's struggles shone through in Mbulaiteye's solemn delivery, and her voice was equally as impressive. Showing off her stunning vocal tones in "A Boy Like That/I Have A Love," Mbulaiteye proved her skill with the impactful performance.

 

A major success of the show was the set design (Ryley Gardner et al). The black and white backdrop of clothes-pinned laundry cast slight shadows on the cyclorama, both adding to the ominous tone and conveying the underlying contrasts in class level between the Jets and Sharks. Further emphasizing the differences between the worlds of Tony and Maria, the Jets nearly always resided in the sturdy walls of Doc's Convenience Store, while most scenes with the Sharks were surrounded by bare scaffolding, a subtle but powerful touch. The most impressive of set aspects was the use of suspension - intricately detailed store signs as well as laundry lines were suspended in air, which meant for quick transitions that kept the show feeling continual and uninterrupted rather than staccato and detached.

 

The fearful passage of Tony and Maria's death-mark'd love, and continuance of their gangs' rage which, but their life's end, nought could remove, was the two hours' song of the Rockville stage. Delivered with passion and heart, Rockville High School's performance of West Side Story: School Edition was pretty, witty, bright, and more!


Sarah Bourgeois

Westfield High School

 

Rhythmic snapping emerges from the shadows of a Manhattan alley. In twos, threes, and fours, the brooding members of the Jets take to the streets to rightfully defend the gang's turf from their conniving Puerto Rican rivals. When a chance meeting between people of contending sides sparks a forbidden romance, the newfound star-crossed lovers must find a way to let love prevail in Rockville High School's production of West Side Story: School Edition.

 

Within a dismal borough of New York is the tale of two groups divided by their origins, reminiscent of Shakespeare's fabled Romeo and Juliet in an urbanized new light that is West Side Story. The sudden affections of Tony, a prominent Jet, and the naive pride of the Sharks, Maria, begins to flourish despite the violent tensions between their worlds. The couple tiptoes around war counsels and blood feuds determined to overcome the hatred that surrounds them.

 

West Side Story took the musical theatre world by storm with its Broadway premiere in 1957. The mature themes of adolescent gang activity combined with the note of tragedy derived from its Shakespearean inspiration provided a stark contrast to the typical happy-go-lucky musicals of the time. With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show received six Tony Award nominations, winning choreography and scenic design. 

 

The graceful innocence of Maria was portrayed by Gabriela Sanchez, who upheld a consistent Puerto Rican accent with clear and precise diction. Her vocal abilities extended to that of her singing voice in stellar performances like "I Feel Pretty." Jacob Lunsford portrayed Tony with the necessary lovestruck aspect of his character. Lunsford and Sanchez had a heartwarming dynamic as their infatuation with one another developed throughout the show.

 

The ensemble of Jets included a number of standout performers who embodied their characters with commitment and humor. Action (Luke Marple) carried "Gee, Officer Krupke" with skillful comedic timing as he pranced about the stage in a lively display of the number. Genevieve Hill portrayed Anybodys, the rambunctious tomboy of the group. Hill delved into every aspect of her character, whether it was acting tough to fit in with the boys or tearing up in somber moments. The fearless leader of the gang, Riff, was portrayed by Dylan Hawkins with ease. Hawkins was genuine in every respect, from his gruff yet suave demeanor to his raw vocals.

 

The lighting operation of Camille Hoffman, Alexia Moser, Lucy Fields, and Adam Reinhold flowed smoothly between groupings of actors in "Tonight (Quintet)." As the five groups and individuals sang their respective parts, each one was illuminated individually by a vivid light before it swiftly transitioned to the next group to sing and back again. Polished orchestrations resonated throughout the theater at the hands of the talented Rockville High School Pit Orchestra.

 

Within two opposing worlds shrouded in hostility bloomed a passionate romance against all odds. In Rockville High School's heartening rendition of West Side Story, the audience is reminded that there is always room for a sincere love story; even within the jarring malice of life on the West Side.

Related

Gala Photos Now Available

Gala Photos Now Available

Photos from the 2019 NCA Cappies Gala are now available!

Read More >
West Side Story, James Madison High School, Vienna, Virginia, May 3, 2019

West Side Story, James Madison High School, Vienna, Virginia, May 3, 2019

Best Written Reviews for West Side Story performed at James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia....

Read More >
Mamma Mia!, Heritage High School, Leesburg, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Mamma Mia!, Heritage High School, Leesburg, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Best Written Reviews for Mamma Mia! performed at Heritage High School in Leesburg, Virginia. Review...

Read More >
Chicago (High School Edition), South County High School, Lorton, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Chicago (High School Edition), South County High School, Lorton, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Best Written Reviews for Chicago performed at South County High School in Lorton, Virginia. Reviewe...

Read More >
Les Miserables School Edition, South Lakes High School, Reston, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Les Miserables School Edition, South Lakes High School, Reston, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Best Written Reviews for Les Misérables School Edition performed at South County High School in Lort...

Read More >
Newsies, Hayfield Secondary School, Alexandria, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Newsies, Hayfield Secondary School, Alexandria, Virginia, May 4, 2019

Best Written Reviews for Newsies performed at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Re...

Read More >
Donate to Cappies NCA
Upcoming Shows