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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.

21Nov

Best written reviews for “Peter and the Starcatcher” performed by Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia. Reviewed on November 18, 2022.

Mayuka Valluri

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

 

Imaginative yet realistic, heart-wrenching yet heartwarming, isolating yet welcoming: Woodbridge Senior High's Peter and the Starcatcher invites you to a night of touching dualities.

 

Based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's 2004 novel, Rick Elice's Peter and the Starcatcher is an uplifting, adventurous tale detailing the backstories of the beloved Peter Pan characters. Locked in a ship's lower decks, Peter and two fellow orphans find a friend in Molly, a Starcatcher-in-training. As the pirate Blackstache attempts to steal a trunk of starstuff, the four children embark on a high-seas adventure full of discovery.

 

Owen Meyer, who played Peter, portrayed a boy bruised by neglect. The performance's most heartbreaking moment occurred when Meyer hopelessly confessed Peter's hatred towards adults, laying down in pain and jerking to grasp air. After escaping the dark confines of the lower decks, Meyer swelled in the open air, smiling brightly and holding his arms out wide with newfound confidence. 

 

Christina Hayes shimmered as the orphan Ted. Through frenzied and exaggerated movements, Hayes portrayed Ted as a young, sprite-like character. When Molly (Tara Aleknavage) appeared unexpectedly in the orphans' room, Hayes frantically scrambled away, scooting and stumbling across the stage while fearfully pointing a finger at her. Ted's love of food allowed Hayes's comical performance to truly shine at the mention of sticky toffee pudding. Falling dramatically to her knees, Hayes professed her love for the sweet dessert with arms outstretched towards the sky.

 

Promise Opoku Yeboah's performance as Teacher was as dazzling as her glistening mermaid tail. Yeboah effortlessly delivered lines laced with alliteration. With a performance ripe with subtle comedy, Yeboah deliberately scuttled about the stage in a hilariously awkward silence. Ryan Ngyuen's Smee, Blackstache's right-hand man, showed great versatility. In an interlude, Ngyuen clumsily strummed a guitar and bobbed around with a mop on his head. When the mop accidentally fell, Ngyuen paused immediately, looked up, shrugged, and continued playing, turning a potentially awkward moment into a bit of comedy.

 

The costume design by Stephanie Lin, Isabella Melendez, and Met'huru Diop used distinctive colors to enrich the characters: blood red for sinister Blackstache, baby blue for youthful Molly, and faded green for worn-down Peter. Molly and her father's structured garments and billowing capes gave them an air of elegance and sophistication as Starcatchers, while the tattered and weathered rags worn by the rest of the cast marked them as rapscallions. The prop design by Grace McHale and Allie Vogel treaded the line between reality and imagination. Using props to embody characters, the duo was able to infuse the performance with childlike zeal. The golden feather duster became a pesky, yellow bird while the glowing red eyes turned into a full, looming crocodile - creating the feeling of a child at play.

 

The cast and crew of Peter and the Starcatcher created a night of wonder, comfort, and self-discovery. The biggest discovery, however, was the feeling of being at home - a feeling that Woodbridge Senior High extended through their enchanting performance.


Fiona Feingold

Quince Orchard High School

 

The story of Peter Pan and his Lost Boys is a classic story of a boy who refused to grow up. But why did Peter Pan's magic keep him a child forever? And how did his rivalry with Captain Hook start? Woodbridge Senior High School's production of Peter and the Starcatcher answered these questions and more, simultaneously tying up loose ends and putting a refreshing twist on a familiar set of J.M. Barrie's characters.

 

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Peter and the Starcatcher is set approximately twenty years before Peter Pan leads the Darling children to Neverland. Peter (Owen Meyer) begins the play as an unnamed orphan aboard the passenger ship The Neverland. There, he befriends titular "starcatcher" Molly Aster (Tara Aleknavage), who enlists his help in protecting a trunk belonging to Queen Victoria. During the show, Molly and Peter fight pirates, crocodiles, and poisoned fruitcake. They quickly discover that the way to win is to work together.

 

Meyer embodied Peter's woe-is-me teenage angst, gracefully balancing mood swings with well-placed moments of vulnerability. Meyer's emotional monologue in the middle of Act 1 moved an otherwise energetic audience to silence. Alongside Meyer, Aleknavage flawlessly portrayed Molly's kindness, courage, and wit, delivering each line with an impressive British accent.

 

Ted (Christina Hayes) and Prentiss (Sophia Sharaa) rounded out Peter's motley crew with perfect comedic timing. Ted's preoccupation with "sticky pudding," even in the direst of circumstances, provided constant comic relief -- the mere mention of the dessert prompted Hayes to "faint" onstage. Prentiss' adamant desire to become the group's leader, despite being clearly unfit for the role, proved humorous as well. The duo built off of each other's energy in every scene, maintaining consistent chemistry throughout the show.

 

As Blackstache, Audrey Evans commanded the stage, artfully capturing the intricacies of the character's melodrama. Through over-the-top vocal inflections and grandiose arm movements, Evans dared to make a pre-villain Captain Hook endearing. Evans also frequently dropped culturally relevant ad-libs that had audience members howling with laughter.

 

The stripped-back set (designed by Kline Howell, Owen Meyer, Myles Krenz, and Brandy Farfan) featured two boats: The Neverland and The Wasp, Blackstache's pirate ship. Each vessel was painted uniquely; The Neverland was painted light brown to highlight the ship's age, while The Wasp was painted a brighter maroon. Both ships were often located on opposite ends of the stage, allowing a tableau effect to be utilized. When a scene changed locations from one boat to another, previously active characters would freeze in place as the lights dimmed. A brand-new lighting scheme would shine on a different set of actors, cueing them to begin.

 

Woodbridge Senior High School's production of Peter and the Starcatcher may indeed have been sprinkled with "starstuff." The end result was a show truly reminiscent of a bedtime story. Lively yet reflective, Peter and the Starcatcher reminded audience members of all ages to hold on to their inner child for just a little longer.

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