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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.


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School, Dumfries, Virginia, April 13, 2019

Kathryn Shepherd

Hayfield Secondary School


The carriage, the shoes, the gown: What more could a girl want? Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School's production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella answers that question for young Ella, who wants nothing more than to escape her stepmother and stepsisters and open the prince's eyes to the injustice plaguing their kingdom. In this musical, Ella realizes that she is looking for more than dresses and princes and finds out that the impossible is more possible than she originally thought.


Originally written for television in 1957, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella has reinvented this classic tale. The rags to riches story was first performed on stage in 1985 in London, and since, has had runs in several countries worldwide. In 2013, the charming musical debuted on Broadway, sporting a new book written by Douglas Carter Beane. Receiving plaudits and nominations from its genesis, this show has proven to be a favorite for young and old.


A picture of kindness and grace, Ella (Madison Perry) drew all eyes in the room each time she was on stage. She wooed the audience with her sweet operatic voice and persistent energy through each song and dance. Topher (Richard VonTersch) shared this beguiling quality as a more-than-storybook prince willing to make a difference in his kingdom. His stunning vocals and humorous nature captivated the audience from the beginning of the show to its happily ever after.


Ella's stepmother and stepsisters seamlessly added flairs of comedy. Evil through and through, Annaliese Tamke's performance as Madame was characterized by physicality and facial expressions. From sinister pride to flagrant disgust, Tamke's body language left the audience in stitches with exaggerated movements and memorable reactions. Gabrielle (Gabriella Chellis) and Charlotte (Meg Dreany), Ella's stepsisters, bolstered Tamke well. Their overall family dynamic brought a new level of enjoyment to the production, especially in their performances in "A Lovely Night" and "Stepsister's Lament."


Not to be overlooked, the use of puppets for the fox and raccoon contributed yet another enjoyable aspect of the show. The woodland creatures, controlled by Bridget Walker and Sasha Cohen, had the distinct ability to contribute comedically to each scene they were in and proved themselves to be memorable additions to the show.


The technical aspects beautifully complemented the work of the actors throughout. The set, designed by Jaylan Enriquez and Libby Doty, beautifully immersed the audience deeper and deeper into the show. The lush greenery of the countryside and the rich wood of Ella's home were painted on mobile set pieces with exquisite attention to detail. Additionally, the lighting, designed by Eleanor Brunsman and Christa Nalda, was well executed. From the green of the jungle in "In My Own Little Corner" to the brilliance of the prince's ball, the lighting accentuated each mood in every scene effortlessly. Finally, the JP Pit Orchestra was impressive. With a student conductor (Padric Brown) and all student musicians, the band was able to play through extremely long interludes without a hitch.


Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School's production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella brought to life a well-beloved classic in a stunning testament to its longevity. With an abundance of energy and fervor from the entire cast, this renewal of a childhood favorite makes you fall in love with the story all over again.

Kara Murri

McLean High School


If you had a fairy godmother, what would you dream of? An invitation to the ball? A chance to tell the Prince what you really think of his kingdom? With a little bit of magic, the impossible became possible at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School's "Cinderella," offering a night of delightful enjoyment full of heart, mind, and soul.


Rodgers and Hammerstein, the wildly successful writing duo, wrote "Cinderella" for television and as a star vehicle for Julie Andrews, its 1957 airing garnering over 100 million views. The award-winning stage adaptation eventually premiered on Broadway in 2013, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, adding his own twist to the classic tale that we all know so well- an evil step-family, a fairy godmother, one charming prince, a glass slipper, and enough magic to enchant every audience member.


Throughout the show, the whole cast possessed a lively ardor. Featuring many operatic voices, such as Jacqueline VonTersch as Marie, the Fairy Godmother, every cast member maintained a near-perfect level of consistency in vocal performances. Clean-cut harmonies, accompanied by an impressive live orchestra, resulted in true magic, like in the number "The Prince is Giving A Ball/ Now Is The Time." Student Jaci Jedrych's admirable choreography, whether folksy or formal, shone during various lighthearted dance breaks.


Madison Perry graced the stage as Cinderella, polishing off the title role with refreshing poise and optimism. Embodying all things bright and beautiful, Perry's emotional sensitivity and gentle disposition lent her character the air of a true princess. During the numbers "In My Own Little Corner" and "Lovely Night", Ella's playful imagination shone through, and in every song her impeccable vocal technique meshed with her melodious voice to render the audience full of wonder.


As His Royal Highness Christopher Rupert, more commonly known as Prince Topher, Richard VonTersch maintained a princely demeanor through his formal physicality and precise intonation. Complementing Perry's voice was VonTersch's rich and resonant tone, which not only charmed Ella but warmed every audience member's heart.


"Actual" sisters Gabrielle and Charlotte (Gabriella Chellis and Meg Dreany) and stepmother Madame (Annaliese Tamke ) served as sources of mockery and delightful physical comedy. Chellis developed her touching character arc commendably, as she found forbidden love with Jean-Michel, portrayed by Andre Morales, a revolutionary who criticized the Prince with vigor and notable passion.


Batting her eyelashes at every turn, prancing across stage, smirking and sneering, stepsister Charlotte was wildly entertaining, and led the hilarious number "Stepsister's Lament," arguably the highest energy number of the show.


One standout performance was Tamke as the evil stepmother. A master of ridicule and landing scalding insults, Tamke's priceless facial expressions, overbearing physicality, and impassioned outbursts created an oddly relatable villain who never failed to elicit chuckles from the audience. When conspiring with Sebastian (Ben Averia), the Prince's aide, the devious duo was truly delightful.


Overall, the technical aspects of this production added whimsy and magic to the narrative. Effective, colorful lighting greatly contributed to the show's atmosphere and reflected its tone. Props and set maintained the make-believe, as with the adorable puppets raccoon and fox. Especially notable was the set, which incorporated large, moving set pieces, an expansive background piece, and painted flats to efficiently transition between scenes.


Ever enchanting and entertaining, Saint John Paul's "Cinderella" made the audience believe in the make-believe, and left the audience with music in their hearts.


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