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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.


Best written reviews for “Alice in Wonderland” performed by Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Reviewed on December 4, 2021.

Justin Neil

Westfield High School


As Alice bundles up on her sofa, basks in the warmth of the Sun's rays, and drifts off to sleep, she awakes in a bizarre world full of talking cards, acrobatic amphibians, and a speaking caterpillar who ironically implores the words, "Who Are You?" In a vivacious and zany performance of a beloved tale, Stone Bridge High School's production of Alice in Wonderland highlights the excitement of youthfulness and the coming of adulthood.


First created in 1865 as a novel by Lewis Carroll, the story has a long and winding history of donning the stage. The original show debuted on Broadway in 1886, going through many revivals, renditions, and movies throughout the years till the present day. The plot revolves around a well-mannered little girl named Alice who, in a "fever-dream"-esque-nap, encounters anthropomorphic creatures from all walks of life, slowly entrancing her into a realm full of imagination and endless tea times.


Matching the childlike theme of Alice in Wonderland, the school's performance exemplified a bounty of fast-paced and witty dialogue, adorable hand puppets, and playing with the fourth wall, such as a clapping Simon Says game that immersed the audience in only applauding when they were motioned to.


Leading the spotlight with an enticingly dramatic personality and a consistent English accent, Diana Altenhof carried her role as Alice with a playful approach. Her innocence seamlessly blended with the rest of the cast, adding to the authenticity of her character.


Partnering Alice in her ventures, several characters shined on stage. Selling the show with her rambunctious and dynamic zest, not to mention wearing a flawless bunny-ears-top-hat combo, Grace Paskey starred in her role as the Mad Hatter with impeccable detail. Showcasing undisputable chemistry, Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Rachel Emch and Emma Noble) presented youthful humor that had the audience constantly laughing out of their seats. Finally, illustrating a serious yet comical portrayal of Carol and Queen of Hearts, Emily Lough commanded the stage with enthusiasm, making it known to always: "Look up, speak nicely, and don't twiddle your fingers," when in her presence.


To keep up with the show's creative and vivid atmosphere, the wide variety of props (Natasha Adamson, Eva McMullan, Theodore Streaker), from flamingo decorations used as croquet mallets to a large plastic key for "unlocking" doors, and the usage of well-timed sound effects (Evan Harris, Jerry Wang, Alex McCoy, and Adyansh Das) all brought the performance to even greater heights. In addition, the presence of functional moving platforms and doors (Rachel Leary, Diana Altenhof, Alex Merkt, John Blasdell) and a plethora of ingenious spotlight methods (VK Din, Julia Quezada, Riley Seppings, Brian Tui) made this particular production of Alice in Wonderland one of a kind.


Stone Bridge High School's performance of Alice in Wonderland filled the auditorium with enthralling exuberance and a taste of nostalgia. It leaves audiences with the message that coming out of childhood might be very scary and confusing, but with the right people, nothing is out of our reach.

Caroline Tallungen

Heritage High School


In a world of chess boards and queens, Stone Bridge High School gave a fine performance of the play Alice in Wonderland that transported the audience right alongside the title character.


Based on the stories written by Lewis Carroll, Alice Gerstenberg's dramatization of Alice in Wonderland begins with a game of chess in young Alice's home. The story takes a quick turn when the girl is able to climb through a looking glass into a new world known as Wonderland - where instead of playing chess, chess plays itself! She soon discovers that nothing is as it seems, and that things become even more strange as she goes about. Making both friends and enemies, Alice must find her way out of Wonderland before it is too late, and she is beheaded by the Queen of Hearts.


The use of technical elements, such as set and lighting, combined with the talent of each actor, enhanced the flow and overall feeling of this production. Color coded backgrounds complemented the tense conflicts throughout the show, giving a visual representation of what Alice was going through. Additionally, the contrasting personalities portrayed by the characters created well balanced scenes, for example the lovable White Queen with the powerful Red Queen, and Alice with the Caterpillar.


Diana Altenhof played the role of Alice with a youthful flair, and her mannerisms portrayed the girl's variety of emotions throughout her journey. The tough role requires a high energy that Altenhof was able to keep consistently throughout the entirety of the show.


Chemistry is a necessity when creating a well-rounded scene, and the actors of Stone Bridge High School were able to do an admirable job at building relationships between the characters. Goofing around and telling riddles, the Tea Party Ensemble of Grace Paskey's Mad Hatter, Theodore Streaker's March Hare, and Karina Bhawnani's Dormouse created a lively and excitable Act II. Paskey was able to capture the stage with her skilled physicality, and each of the three actors played off one another well. Another notable mention is the performance of Humpty Dumpty by Abby White, who took the traditionally male presenting character and gave it a unique and agile twist.


The lighting in this production, with its crew head of Riley Seppings, was one of the many ways that the magic of Alice in Wonderland was brought to life on the stage. Spotlights were used to look into Alice's emotions, as well as to create a sense of running without actually going anywhere. Complementing this nicely was the Cheshire Cat costume, which included glowing parts and a light on her head, highlighting her catlike movements. In each of these scenes, the transitions were nearly seamless with the help of the stage crew and stage manager Rachel Leary.


Concluding after three acts, the actors and crew of Stone Bridge High School put on a solid production of the magical Alice in Wonderland.


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