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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.

10May

Best written reviews for “Head over Heels” performed by Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia. Reviewed on May 6, 2022.

Pranav Choudhary

Langley High School

 

In a world of legendary fortune, rock music and comedy may just save the day! Robinson Secondary School's production of "Head Over Heels" beautifully brought forth a display of comedic charm.

 

Based on Sir Phillip Sidney's "The Countess of Arcadia," "Head Over Heels" is a jukebox musical comprised of music from The Go-Go's. Set in the 16th century, it explores a flourishing kingdom whose prosperity revolves around a famed "beat." When the kingdom's nobility is given four prophecies, the community is forced to rethink its identity before it loses the beat forever.

 

Parker Mott commanded the stage as the enthralling oracle Pythio, belting through rock scores with immense vocal power. Amid mysterious prophecies and sonorous songs, Mott deftly explored the non-binary Pythio breaking free of the label of womanhood and moving the kingdom into a new dawn.

 

Playing a mistress to the king's daughter, KP Porter animated the production's might as Mopsa. Navigating a doting bond with Kat Nickel's Pamela, Porter cast upon scenes with wide-ranging vocals and authentic displays of emotion, leading through numbers like "Vacation," in which Mopsa finds refuge on the island of Lesbos, and dominating harmonies in "Good Girl" and "Turn to You."

 

From within its beauty and prowess, "Head Over Heels" found its greatest strength in its ensemble. The performance's company powered through rigorous choreography, with the group's well-rehearsed musical numbers and resonant singing serving as a backbone for moving the story forward. 

 

Vibrant lighting effects (Haley Novotny, Katie Eagan, Chad Kassan) complemented the musical's dynamic vibrance, with strobing effects and an array of washes working in sync with actor motions to craft a compelling visual image for audiences.

 

Regal costume design (Jessica Boalick, Andy Lawrence, Lora-Berkeley Macaranas, Ella Patterson) brought the world of Arcadia to life, with palette choices reflecting the complex identities of each character and bringing cohesive elegance to large groups in ensemble scenes.

 

Seamlessly bringing together old prose and modern rock, Robinson Secondary School's production of "Head Over Heels" was a testament to the boundless possibilities that can be realized when we have the courage to believe.


Sara Kaufman

Justice High School

 

To unlock one's true potential, going against the grain of what is expected is often required. With enchanting vocals, dazzling dancing, and superb acting, Robinson Secondary School's production of Head Over Heels conveyed the message that embracing identity is the key to happiness.

 

Written by Jeff Whitty and James Magruder, with music by The Go-Go's and based off an Elizabethan-Era comedy by Sir Philip Sydney, Head Over Heels follows the story of the Arcadia's dysfunctional royal family as they undergo a treacherous adventure to preserve the "beat" that maintains their kingdom. Complete with forbidden romances and damaging secrets, Head Over Heels takes an unconventional approach to the classic fairy tale structure, allowing for characters to present themselves as a diverse array of sexual orientations and gender identities.

 

Portraying the sweet, younger princess of Arcadia, Philoclea, was Elyson Mader. Mader excellently depicted the full arc of her character while maintaining fantastic stage presence and a wide vocal range. Her interactions with Musidorous (Luke Stephens), her forbidden lover, were authentic, and garnered the support of the entire audience.

 

Kat Nickel, performing as the endearingly bratty Pamela, was a force to be reckoned with. Constantly engaged with her character's emotions, Nickel depicted both the fear and relief that come with accepting one's sexuality. Seamlessly bouncing between both comedic and serious line delivery, Nickel proved her versatility as an actress.

 

Also of note was the ensemble. Providing strong backup vocals, and dancing in complex numbers, the ensemble served as a driving force in this story. Though each actor worked together to form a collective whole, they also developed engaging individual characters on stage.

 

The technical elements of this show were commendable, and comparable to that of a professional production. The colorful ambience of the lighting, designed by Katie Eagan, Chad Kassan, and Haley Novotny, added to the electrically fantastic mood of the musical. Colors changed to highlight different themes, for example Pamela and Mopsa were lit in hot pink to emphasize their femininity. The blend of the sound both from the singers and prerecorded instrumentals was completely balanced, allowing for the audience to clearly hear each song. Scene transitions were completely smooth, thanks to stage manager Hannah Moser, and allowed the audience to remain captivated by the show. Set changes were quick and unobtrusive to the storyline at hand.

 

The costuming in this production blended both modern and traditional fairy tale elements. Traditional clothing was worn, such as corsets and gowns, but maintained a modern twist with bright fabrics and unique patterns.

 

Robinson's production of Head Over Heels taught the audience the importance of being unapologetically yourself.

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