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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.


Mary Poppins, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Virginia, May 3, 2019

Andrew Otchere

Rock Ridge High School


"Anything can happen if you let it, things you thought impossible, will soon seem certain!" This was certainly the case at Robinson Secondary School when they brought the magic of Mary Poppins directly to their stage and transported the audience to the streets of Cherry Tree Lane. From the moment the curtain opened to the final bows, this production was simply astonishing.


Mary Poppins tells the story of a nanny who comes to the Banks' household in order to teach the children, Jane and Michael, cherishable life lessons. Beginning as a popular children's book by P.L Travers, then making its way to the big screen, and finally debuting on Broadway in 2006, this family-friendly tale has fascinated generations for years and years.


The show began with a beautifully lit tableau of the cast that immediately captivated every audience member. Bert, played by Kieran O'Dell, charmingly introduced the show and, as the narrator, remained a consistent anchor for the production. Alongside Bert was none other than the title character, Mary Poppins, played by Anna Maria Shockey. From the moment Shockey entered the stage, she elegantly portrayed the iconic role of Poppins with poise and authenticity. Through her soothing, soprano voice and her dignified physicality, not a moment went by where Shockey did not dazzle the audience.


George and Winifred Banks, respectively played by Zack Wilson and Claire Burton, were two memorable characters within the production. Wilson commanded the stage as the head of the Banks household, demanding "precision and order" through his mature vocal tone and strong physicality. Meanwhile, Burton portrayed the complex character of Winifred Banks with an exceptional level of grace. Through her mannerisms and astounding vocals, it was evident that Burton invested a lot of time into developing a well-rounded character.


Supporting all these characters were none other than an ensemble of unique roles that helped Mary Poppins teach invaluable life lessons to Jane and Michael Banks. The Bird Woman (Anna Freeman), Mrs. Corry (Taegan Pratt), Valentine (Steven Eckloff), and Neleus (Nico Ochoa) were all stand-out characters who helped to progress and strengthen the story through their distinctive and contrasting characterization. The whole high-energy ensemble helped to elevate the show in every group number, including "Step in Time" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."


The magic of Mary Poppins would not have been possible without the tremendous technical aspects incorporated into this production. The intricate set design helped to effectively transport the audience from various locations with simple and seamless scene changes. The beautiful costume pieces and intricate makeup designs kept the audience engaged in every moment. The Poppins Pit, an orchestra of 17 amazing instrumentalists, as well as the creative choreography had every audience member clapping along and dancing in their seats!


Robinson's production told the beautiful story of Mary Poppins with authenticity and respect for the classic tale. With an unwavering commitment from every company member and an evident passion for storytelling, the joy of every cast member radiated throughout the auditorium and left every audience member wanting more. To say the least, this production was "practically perfect!"

Calley Mullin

Poolesville High School


"Close your mouth, please, we are not a codfish." Robinson Secondary's production of Mary Poppins left the audience unable to contain their awe. The infectious enthusiasm that radiated from the cast captivated and engaged the audience for the entirety of the show. Everyone in the cast worked as a unit, blending their talents seamlessly to tell their story in a cohesive and magical manner.


From colorful roller skating to tap dancing to flying, Robinson Secondary encapsulated the whimsical nature of the musical, which tells the story of a magical nanny who teaches the Bankses the importance of family above all else. This musical is based on the 1964 film starring Julie Andrews, which, in turn, was based on a novel by P. L. Travers. Bert (Kieran O'Dell), a chimney sweep who assists Mary Poppins (Anna Maria Shockey) in her adventures with Jane (Delaney Magliocchetti) and Michael (Jake Wilson), acts as a narrator. Both O'Dell and Shockey were the epitome of their film counterparts, from their brilliant accents to their exact physicalities. O'Dell had perfect control of his entire body and in each of his characterizations, down to the smallest details. His energy charmed the audience, emulating his character, Bert. Shockey perfectly translated Mary Poppins' strict but caring character through her incredible voice and her phenomenal diction. Watching Shockey perform, the audience couldn't help but smile.


Within the Banks' household, George Banks (Zack Wilson) was cold and distracted towards his wife, Winifred Banks (Claire Burton), and his children, creating the dysfunctional family dynamic. Claire Burton stood out during her song "Being Mrs. Banks." Her voice was incredibly strong, and she held perfect pitch. Jane and Michael brought great childish and comedic energy to the household. Mrs. Brill (Heidi Clouse) and Robertson Ay (Harry MacInnis) were wonderful additions to the relationships within the Banks' house, with their hilarious expressions and reactions. Finally, Devin Haley radiated perfect energy for her role as Mrs. Andrews, contrasting beautifully with Mary.


The ensemble was phenomenally strong throughout the show, displaying unique and distinctive qualities in each number. This, along with direct interactions with the audience and effective use of space, kept the show engaging and entertaining. Each featured role demonstrated the incredibly talented cast. The Bird Woman (Anna Freeman) had a beautiful voice that contributed to her emotional song, while Mrs. Corry (Taegan Pratt) had an accurate accent and great energy. Valentine (Steven Eckloff) and Neleus (Nico Ochoa) exemplified their respective roles through their characterized and strong dances. Choreography told the story through movement, incorporating a variety of styles of dance.


The technical aspects only added more to the show. There was an incomparable attention to detail throughout the costumes and the makeup, including the letters that were written on Mrs. Corry's face. Mary's red costume corresponded to the red lighting that she was given throughout the show, notably in comparison to Mrs. Andrews' green lighting. All the lighting was both deliberate and effective. Sound was creative and well-timed. The set effectively engaged the audience. Set transitions were executed smoothly and were able to clearly tell the story.


A student-led production of such a classic musical is a hard feat to pull off, but the students at Robinson Secondary were up for the challenge. To summarize this production of Mary Poppins, only one word can be used: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.



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