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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.

22Nov

Best written reviews for “Little Women” performed by Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia. Reviewed on November 19, 2021.

Elli Vlattas

Westfield High School

 

"Tell me a story, Jo, tell me a real story," asks Beth throughout the difficult trials and tribulations that the March sisters face. Woodbridge Senior High School presents the classic story of Little Women, filled with captivating vocal expression, spectacular emotions, and dynamic physicality that allows the audience to follow Jo's challenging journey of self-discovery.

 

The play was written by Kate Hamill and was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women has been adapted many times including a musical, which originally debuted in 2000, and several film adaptations, the most recent premiering in 2019.

 

The production follows Jo March, an aspiring writer, and her three sisters: Meg, Beth, and Amy. Jo and her sisters begin to work on her play over a span of three years, with the help and encouragement from their neighbor, Laurie. Throughout the show, Jo bickers with her sisters, who want her to grow up and become a lady, but Jo wants to focus on her story which will help her become a notable writer.

 

Emma Howard starred as the dynamic and passionate Jo March. Howard's ability to change her emotions throughout her many interactions with Laurie, such as being furious to being filled with despair, left no doubt about her impressive acting range. Her detailed facial expression punctuated the emotions she felt, especially when she talked about her father or Beth. Owen Meyer played the vivacious and active Laurie. Meyer's shift in maturity from youthful and immature to sophisticated and intelligent allowed him to demonstrate the years passing and his own character's growth. The connection between Howard and Meyer illustrated Jo and Laurie's deep friendship, especially whenever they would sword fight during Jo's play rehearsals.

 

Christina Hayes transformed into the young and self-centered Amy. Her ability to show her fiery spirit (displayed in her battles with Jo) contrasted her proper and refined actions (displayed in her flirtations with Laurie) added to many of her scenes. Hayes' childish energy brought a uniqueness to her portrayal of Amy. Madeleine Doyle starred as the innocent and timid Beth. Doyle's clear line delivery presented her character as the "conscience" throughout the production and was a clear mediator between the sisters. Doyle also used silence to add an eerie nature to several of the melancholy scenes. The connection between the March sisters was fascinating and created a sisterly environment, featured throughout the loving Christmas scenes and the heated fights.

 

Alongside the spectacular acting were the eye-catching technical aspects. The classical sets (designed by Kline Howell and Patrick Tafe) transformed the stage into the 19th century. The masterfully crafted set featured a two-story house, which evoked the warmth of the family who resided within it. The set also contained period furniture that created important smaller scenes. The lighting (designed Chloe Wright and Elijah Gibson) shined by adding multiple emotional moments throughout the production by shifting lighting focus to different areas of the stage.

 

A beautiful and real story was told at Woodbridge Senior High School's production of Little Women and it demonstrated how a tight family bond can never be broken.


Leila Jones

Chantilly High School

 

"Nothing Lasts Forever." This holds true for these sisters as they traverse the tides of gender roles, motherhood, sickness, and maturity. Woodbridge Senior High School puts on a spectacular display of "Little Women", amazingly tackling this classic coming-of-age tale.

 

The novel "Little Women" was published in 1869, written by Louisa May Alcott. Her writings depicted strong women of the 19th century and the story of the March family is no exception. The March home, set in 1861-1864, is one of laughter and strife, as their father is off fighting in the war and they struggle through their own emotional battles. Each sister has their distinct personality, often clashing as sisters do when confined in a small space. Jo, ambitious with grandiose dreams of being a writer, is wonderfully depicted by Emma Howard. The moment the curtains opened, she perfectly characterized Jo's steadfast character with every strong, unwavering monologue. Her ability to interact with her sisters through ad-libs and witty side conversations brought the home together, showing the true nature of a household of sisters. Delivering a convincing youngest sister, Christina Hayes depicted the young, rambunctious Amy. Through the way she flailed to the ground to fumbling over words with confidence, she provided much-needed comedic relief with superb timing.

 

The chemistry of these characters illustrated a bond beyond friends - a true family. Even in the silence, there were emotions communicated. The portrayal of Laurie Laurence by Owen Meyer spoke to this subtle nature of connecting with others. When he was not the center of attention, he could be found stumbling through the piano with Beth and wiggling his toes with Jo. His ability to interact and bond with the sisters depicts the charming boy-next-door nature of Laurie.

 

The costumes chosen encapsulated each character's defined identity. Jo's manly behavior was partnered with her pants and dress shirt. Even when in a dress, it was stained and tattered, complimenting the character's tomboy nature. Meg, sweet-natured and vain, floated across the stage in dresses with hoop skirts, swaying with her every move. On the other hand, the dutiful Beth who helped keep the family together was never fancy, spending the show in simple, plain dresses. Additionally, Laurie's character was remarkably accompanied as his clothing evolves from baggy to fit while he grew into his life as a gentleman.

 

While the play was happening on the stage, lighting directed by Chloe Wright and Elijah Gibson hinted at a world beyond the home as orange and blue hues came in from the window, changing color to show the passing of time. The set was marvelous, bringing an additional dimension to the small home of the poor March family, covered with antiques and meticulously chosen wallpapers.

 

As for creativity, there was an abundance. The team of Dustin Clarke, Emma Piper, and Makayla Arnold aided in capturing the era while providing the audience with modern cues to follow. Their work could be seen in the use of "Yellow" by Coldplay instead of a traditional Waltz. And their work to incorporate live music during scene changes and emotionally moving moments was effective and well-executed.

 

Although maneuvering through the societal expectations of this 19th-century world came with its kinks, Woodbridge Senior High School's production of "Little Women" was incredibly navigated by a believable cast and notable crew.

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