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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.

06Nov

Best written reviews for “Clue: Onstage (High School Edition)” performed by Thomas A. Edison High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Reviewed on November 5, 2022.

Emily Reisman

McLean High School

 

It was "Clue: Onstage (High School Edition)," in the auditorium, with Thomas A. Edison's cast and crew as the prime suspects. Bringing the famous board game to life, this lively and engaging production captured the cozy and quizzical feeling of actually playing the game.

 

Sandy Rustin's 2018 play was derived from "Clue: The Movie'' released in 1985. The beloved game pieces were transformed into memorable character portrayals by Sean Smith as Wadsworth, Dara Pershing as Mrs. White, Porter Bertman as Mr. Green, Avery Boyd as Colonel Mustard, Paris Robinson as Mrs. Peacock, Henry Mason as Professor Plum, and Evdoxia Owen as Miss Scarlet. The story depicts the group as they investigate murders occurring in the mansion, their secrets, and motives following every step.

 

If someone were looking to accuse an actor of giving a spirited performance, then the butler did it. Sean Smith kept the audience engrossed with the dynamic delivery of lines. This was best represented when Wadsworth recapped the events of the show, draining any repetition out with the comedic imitations and parodies of other characters. One comedic trick that sustained the audience's engagement was the repetitive use of dialogue, with the actors changing vocal tones and attitudes that kept the jokes fresh. 

 

Every character's distinct personality was highlighted in contrast to the others' performances. Dara Pershing's dry, lilting voice and reserved body language illustrated a more serious noir mystery, while Paris Robinson's high-pitched hysteria and over-dramatic reactions veered toward a light-hearted whodunit. Through exaggerated character expressions and subtle hints toward their motives, the actors naturally kept the audience excitedly anticipating the big reveal.

 

Flashes of lightning pierced the calm of the mansion, as the audience's eyes trailed over to the unknown suspect emerging out of the darkness with weapon raised. A gunshot punctured the silence, the mystery continuing as the anonymous figure slunk away. Kiara Frey, Arcadia Perszyk, and Malyha Bashar's lighting choices foreshadowed ominous moments and utilized spotlights to create the illusion of a large mansion. Cesar Canales, Alex Lammers, James Pershing, and Nate Govert worked to correlate the volume of the sound effects with the severity of their implication, ingraining suspense and shock into eerie scenes or emphasis during comedic moments. The costumes by Cathy Walt, Rachel Jacobson, Corvus Arnold, Harper McClure, and Monroe Dove introduced the characters before their pseudonyms even left their lips with visions such as the eye-catching pink of the bold Miss Scarlet's gloves and the peacock pattern of Paris Robinson's eccentric dress. The unkempt condition of their clothes (as unbuttoned jackets, missing accessories, and wrinkled fabric) towards the end of the play embodied their cracking resolves as the murders began to close in around them.

 

Thomas A. Edison's production of "Clue (High School Edition)" was a charming and humorous play that every "Boddy" will enjoy.


Riva Jain

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

 

Six suspects, six weapons, and a growing number of dead bodies: do you have a clue what this show could be? That's right, it's Thomas A. Edison High School's production of Clue: Onstage (High School Edition)!

 

Clue, originally premiering in May 2017, grew in popularity after its original run, rising to become one of the most produced American plays in 2022. The play is based on the 1985 Paramount movie and classic Hasbro game of the same name. Through its many adaptations, however, the story remains the same: six suspects find themselves invited to a grand manor, where murder runs afoot, and a killer must be found.

 

The cast and crew of Clue crafted a show that walked the line between horror and hilarity with skill. Moments of tension, such as the discovery of each murder, were interspersed with dry humor. Technical elements displayed noir characteristics as well as playful, game-like details.

 

Sean Smith kept the show grounded as the butler, Wadsworth, maintaining a refined British accent while guiding the suspects through the manor. However, most memorable was Wadsworth's villainous monologue at the end of the show. Smith's commitment to the role shone through as Smith leaned into dramatic falls, laughed with spine-chilling conviction, and energetically popped into song and dance numbers. Smith's authentic execution of Wadsworth's different aspects weaved many distinct threads into a compelling, fleshed-out character.

 

Porter Bertman stole the show as Mr. Green. Whether preaching Republicanism with shaky hands or rifling through a dead body with disgusted expressions, Bertman breathed a finicky charisma into the role. Bertman's performance culminated in a surprise reveal at the end of the show, in which Green transformed into a smooth-talking FBI agent. Bertman executed this change masterfully, strutting across the stage and dodging bullets in slow motion.

 

Other outstanding performances included Paris Robinson's Mrs. Peacock. Robinson emphasized the over-the-top aspects of Peacock's nature, attempting noisy conversation over bowls of shark fin soup and falling into wailing hysterics over a possibly poisoned glass of brandy. Dara Pershing's portrayal of Mrs. White, marked by a breathy accent and slow movements, held an air of subtle sophistication. Pershing articulated each action and word with purpose, creating an intense character that commanded attention. This was highlighted in the scene in which Mrs. White detailed how much she hated the maid Yvette (Cora Reese), falling into more and more emotion with every word. Despite each character's distinct personality, the strong chemistry between the actors allowed them to play off each other as they pressed against walls and ballroom danced across the stage, giving the production an immersive, intimate feel.

 

The lights design, headed by Kiara Frey, featured punchy, striking effects. Flickering projections spanning the whole stage simulated lightning, adding a layer of atmospheric tension to the show. Bright, defined spotlights served to direct the audience's eyes to important areas of the stage, allowing for seamless set transitions, along with adding a vintage, dramatic edge to the production. The show's costume design, led by Cathy Walt, was rich and layered, revealing key insights about each character. Mrs. Peacock's mottled-blue dress and underskirt were modest, representing her traditional values. In stark contrast, Miss Scarlet's luxurious, thigh-slit dress revealed her scandalous nature, which lined up with her brash, forward actions during the show.

 

Filled with suspense, drama, and, above all, comedy, Thomas A. Edison High School's production of Clue was certainly "killer"!

 

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