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.


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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.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella - Dominion High School - Sterling, Virginia - April 1, 2017

Isabel Edgerton

South Lakes High School


With a whirl of a wand and a whisk of a waltz, Dominion High School transports the audience with ease to a land far, far away in their presentation of the timeless classic, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.


The musical, originally written for television, follows the story of a young woman, Ella, who is forced to wait on her stepmother's and stepsisters' every need. When the benevolent Prince Christopher holds a ball where he hopes to meet his future queen, Ella's stepmother forbids her to attend. However, with the aid of her fairy godmother Marie, Ella attends the ball and steals the prince's heart. The story follows the prince's quest to find Ella and her journey of self-discovery following her sudden departure from the ball.


The ageless tale was brought to life by Kathryn Allen, who portrayed Ella with a grace that captivated the audience. Allen's robust vocals blended into sweet harmonies and simultaneously stood out in solos. She played the traditionally gentle character with an extra kick of sass in moments with her male counterpart Topher (Eli Pafumi). The two expertly navigated the relationship with a believable chemistry from the moment they first locked eyes. Pafumi played the prince with a kindness that radiated through in his stellar acting and vocals. The pair's interactions were refreshing, as they seemed subdued in comparison to the other flamboyant characters.


Marie (Emily Wilson), the fairy godmother, demonstrated incredible versatility as she switched between a haggard, elderly woman and a glittering fairy. Her acting ability was coupled with operatic vocals which provided for sweet moments with Ella. Meanwhile, the stepfamily captured the audience's attention in songs such as "A Lovely Night", which showcased the impressive vocals of the stepsisters, Emma Karren and Marley Guilfoyle, and their mother, Noelle Hunter. The three operated as an evil unit, who somehow maintained a human side that genuinely cared for Ella. Additionally, Karren's quirky, comedic chemistry with her forbidden lover, Jean-Michelle (Nick Martinez) allowed for a full character arc to develop, and the audience began to relate with the "good" evil stepsister. Martinez's impressive physicality made for a larger-than-life, revolutionary character that provided much of the comic relief. Karren and Martinez were mirrored by the prince's aides Lord Pinkleton (Madeleine Shimazaki) and Sebastian (Noah Belachew), who commanded attention with dignity and strength.


The ensemble was a constant force that never overpowered, yet they carried the show with their distinct minor characters and energy. The group was constantly engaged with their surroundings and each other to make for an overall captivating performance.


The set design provided a versatile backdrop that fit both with the mystery of the forest and the majesty of the castle. The detailed painting adorned the set with texture that appeared to be real-life stone. Furthermore, the colorful costumes brightened the stage and highlighted the character's roles. The bright costumes and stunning dress transformations enthralled the minds of those young and old.


Dominion High School's rendition of Cinderella brought the fairy tale to life with vibrant energy and taught the importance of kindness and love.


Liz Klein

Freedom High School


When "The Prince Was Giving a Ball" at Dominion High School, a pumpkin became a golden carriage, a young maiden and a prince joined in marriage, and four white mice and two racoons turned into horses and coachmen. This may sound "Impossible," but Dominion High School was able to achieve the "Impossible" in their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. The ball, with its charismatic feel, was where a beautiful maiden had a dream of finding her debonair Prince, and where this dream came true. It was also where the audience's fantasies and recollections of their childhood came to life.



The musical fantasy, Cinderella, is a beloved childhood story for many. Dominion High School's theatre department brought the audience's childhood memories back to life in its production of this ongoing tale. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella includes a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II with music written by Richard Rodgers. In 2013, the show debuted on Broadway. Based on Douglas Beane's new book, it encompassed modern ethics, politics, and social structure into the musical, portraying the main characters as more pragmatic rather than playful and romantic. In this fairytale form, Dominion High School's enchanting production of "Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella" was filled with magic, animosity, skill and love.


The adorable Cinderella, or also known as "Ella," was played by Kathryn Allen with integrity and radiance. Kathryn had an unforgettable voice which left the audience wanting more. In beautiful songs like "In My Own Little Corner" and "Me, Who Am I," Allen delighted the audience with her remarkable voice, as she conveyed the hopes and dreams of her character. As the enchanting Cinderella, Kathryn genuinely delivered the goodness and affection of her character through her physicality and interactions with the other characters on stage. Throughout the show, Prince Topher (Eli Pafumi) brought a refreshing twist to the view of the "ideal" prince as he accompanied Cinderella. Through his voice, Pafumi was able to convey his character's lack of self-worth. Moreover, as their characters fell in love, Allen and Pafumi had outstanding chemistry with each other, demonstrating excellent character development throughout the show.


The supportive cast contained several energetic and whimsical characters, which made the story come to life. Cinderella's stepfamily, the stepmother and stepsisters, provided amusement with their exceptional humor. Noelle Hunter as Madame communicated the combination of snooty and egocentric cruelty, as her stubborn character tormented Cinderella. The wicked stepsisters, played by Emma Karren and Marley Guilfoyle, actively showed the contrasts between their two characters: Charlotte, who was preoccupied with her own self-admiration; Gabriella, in love with the town rebel, Jean-Michelle (Nick Martinez), who was hilarious as the advocate of the less fortunate. Gabriella and Jean-Michelle showed their quirky chemistry through their physicality and stage presence throughout the show. Additionally, the Fairy Godmother, although she's often disguised as the crazy lady named Marie, finds life in Emily Wilson, who plays this often-sentimental character with confidence.


The costume design portrayed the division of the rich and the poor class. The costume colors for the townspeople and Cinderella (before her transformation), were green, brown, tan, and purple. On the other hand, for the royal kingdom and the wealthy, the costume colors were red, white, and gold. This distinction between the two groups was clearly depicted as the central message of the story.


Dominion theatre's production of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" is a cherished tale that everyone in the family will enjoy! See you at the ball!


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