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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 Sound of Music, Herndon High School, Herndon, Virginia, April 27, 2019

Hannah Khan

Flint Hill School


"The hills are alive!" sang the melodic Maria Rainer on the mountains of Austria. Wishing to become a nun, but not ready to give up singing, Maria is sent into the mountains to become the governess to the von Trapp children. Expecting to find the willpower to become a nun, Maria alternatively finds herself a life and love. A tale of singing, laughter, war, and love unfolds throughout Maria's physical and emotional journey over the ups and downs of the mountain.


The Sound of Music, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, first opened on Broadway in 1959 and was adapted to film in 1965. This story won five Tony Awards and five Academy Awards. The Sound of Music is set in Austria, just prior to World War II. Captain von Trapp is a naval captain who opposes the Nazis and valiantly refuses to surrender to Nazi Germany. He has seven children who are in desperate need of a female figure after the death of their mother.


The von Trapp family were blessed by the openly spirited Maria Rainer, played by Erin Maxwell, who did an impeccable job of maintaining her complexity of character. Her childlike way of life around the nuns quickly transitioned to a soft, but motherly tone when addressing the von Trapp children. Throughout the show, she developed an initial friendly warmth as a new governess to strong, maternal love for the children and passionate love for Captain von Trapp.


The vocals of this production were excellent as well. Each ensemble created a beautiful harmony, most notably the nuns. The "Preludium" sung by the nuns sounded sweet and carried a tone of calmness. Their performance delivered a contrast to the passionate performance of "The Sound of Music" given by Maxwell, whose vocal control was incredible.  In each song that she sang, she made it her own. Maria's music carries meaning, and Maxwell's delivery of each beautiful note carried the deep emotions that Maria is conveying through song.


Beyond the cast members' excellent performances, the work of the set crew must be commended. The set, created by Gia Tigreros and John Proctor, was absolutely incredible. Not only was the set itself impressive, but the attention to detail in each room was amazing. One detail of note was with the curtains. Maria made clothes for the children out of the old curtains that Frau Schmidt said would be thrown away. When the children came out with clothes made from this material, the curtains in Maria's bedroom had changed. This small detail added to the believability of the story and showed the cast and crews dedication to creating a new world for us in the audience.


Herndon High School's production of The Sound of Music brought this beautiful story to life. Each of the delicately thought out elements really made this production sing. All the pieces of the show were magnificent alone, but together created a harmony as beautiful as the hills of Austria.


Paul Lee

Westfield High School


What is that familiar tune that everyone's been singing for generations? It's simple, like ABC... or do-re-mi. It's Herndon High School's rendition of the world's favorite thing: The Sound of Music. Filled with hills, mountains, and acclaimed songs that the musical is known for, the nostalgic performance made the minds of the young and old reminisce this wonderful work in musical history.


Taking the true story of Maria and the von Trapp family, Rodgers and Hammerstein, the musical-writing gurus, wrote The Sound of Music. The production debuted on Broadway in 1959 and ran for a total of 1,443 performances. In the hands of film director Robert Wise, The Sound of Music was adapted into the Academy Award-winning motion picture in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.


The very problematic postulant, Maria Rainer, is sent to be a governess for the strictly disciplined von Trapp family. Oblivious to the notion of music, the children are taught to sing and bring back the tender family love that has been relinquished for many years.


The show wouldn't have been complete without the addition of the multi-talented ensemble who exuded infectious and lively energy, giving a unique touch to the production. The Nuns of the Abbey blessed the audience by opening the performance with angelic harmonies filled with highs and lows song in Latin.


How do you solve a problem like Maria? Though she may be a problem, there were none in Erin Maxwell's flawless portrayal as the optimistic governess Maria. Her powerful and sonorous vibratos complimented well with her dainty, poised persona as she classically waltzed the stage with grace. Maxwell perfectly executed her dynamic character development from a young postulant unaccepted by nuns into a fun-loving governess mothering the von Trapp children.


Bringing in loads of cheery joy and much adoration from the audience, the von Trapp children established each individual character traits prominent to their roles, specifically Brigitta (Hannah Clements) and Gretl (Alyssa Ruark). Clements delivered many comedic aspects as she effortlessly broadcasted the smart-aleck demeanor with her naive and observantly curious nature, leaving many side-splitting moments; second grader Ruark stole the audience's heart by adorably hitting every mark as the youngest of the family with her heart-melting perky voice and her small yet bubbly personality. Acting as comic foils, Elsa Schraeder (Taylor Nunn) and Max Detweiler (Morton Stokes) showed impressive character consistency as well as bringing out vigorous energy through their hidden dancing and vocal talents in the number "No way to Stop it."


Whether it be the pit orchestration or set design, created by Gia Tigreros, the entire production emanated an Austrian ambiance as the orchestra played authentic traditional-like folk music and with the set design radiating an historically accurate home with its attention to very minute details in structure and embellishment. The sound crew did an excellent job of making every voice stand out to be clear and concise.


The hills came alive in Herndon High School as the cast did justice to the Rodgers and Hammerstein's endearing musical phenomenon The Sound of Music.


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