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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.

05Dec

Best written reviews for “The Play That Goes Wrong (High School Edition)” performed by Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia. Reviewed on December 2, 2022.

Clare Shacochis

Oakton High School

 

Westfield High School brings "The Play That Goes Wrong" to life in a mix of chaos, confusion and comedy!

 

"The Play That Goes Wrong", written and starring Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, originally premiered in London in 2012, and soon moved to the West End. Since, the show has premiered all over the world, including a successful Broadway run. The show, taking a play-within-a-play format, revolves around an amateur theatre group that attempts to put on a murder mystery, while dealing with a malfunctioning set, incompetent actors, and stressed-out stagehands.

 

Commanding the stage was Natalie Kattas as Christine, the director of the disastrous play and as Inspector Carter. Even when getting smacked in the face by a falling shield, Kattas flawlessly portrayed Christine's unwavering persistence. With a hilarious mix of frustration toward her fellow actors and charm toward the audience, Kattas' performance showed the build-up to an inevitable mental breakdown.

 

TJ Brescia, playing Dennis/Perkins, brought this bumbling actor trying to be a butler to life for the entirety of the show. Brescia perfectly portrayed a bad actor doing his best, especially in his delivery of his mispronounced words and breakdowns as he forgot his lines.

 

Another standout was Anusha Krishnan as Annie, a member of the stage crew turned understudy. Krishnan's portrayal of Annie getting into the role as the show went on had the audience in stitches, all building up to a frenzied fight between Annie and Sandra/Florence (Zoe Brennan). Krishnan gave a stellar performance, whether it was her constant posing, over-the-top attempted accents, or hysterical episodes.

 

The most outstanding aspect of this show was clearly the set and the special effects used to make it fall apart. The set crew (Eloise Latimer, Abigail Matthews, et al.) designed and built a set that came undone all around the actors, while still giving them room to use the entire stage. The window, originally covered by a curtain before it comically came crashing down, allowed the audience to see the characters and stage crew try to pull everything together from backstage.

 

The special effects crew (Reanna Vardhanapu, Claire An, Lana Johnson, and Alice Samuel) expertly made everything go wrong, including a revolving bookshelf that both spun smoothly and got stuck when needed. Whether they were jamming doors, making items unstick from the walls, or letting panels of the wall fall flat, the special effects crew greatly contributed to the hilarity of the show.

 

Led by Emily Miller, the costume crew created a chaotic combination of costumes, with several pieces that they made themselves, including a messily made red dress, resembling the flapper dress of Florence/Sandra (Zoe Brennan). The costume crew put the second dress together so that it looked like it was hastily assembled for Annie (Anusha Krishnan) at the last minute, while also being accompanied by Annie's original stage crew costume underneath. From heart-patterned boxers to a ruffled blue coat, the costumes were another comedic component to the show.

 

The props crew (Ridah Mahjabeen, Adriana Bartoe and Nevaeh Hampton) played a big part in the onstage mishaps. Thanks to the expertise of the props crew, the actors used a variety of mixed-up props, most notably a flower vase and key ring acting as pencil and paper. From a silver tray to knock someone out, to paper snowflakes, to a leash missing its dog, every prop strengthened and added to the performance.

 

The cast and crew of Westfield High School's "The Play That Goes Wrong" created an onstage frenzy that shouldn't be missed!


Megan Rudacille

Chantilly High School

 

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong – but when these calamitous misadventures can fill a room with thunderous laughter, they seem to be going just right. This Friday, Westfield High School's production of The Play That Goes Wrong captured the comedy of a desperate struggle for control against outrageous disaster.

 

Having premiered in London in 2012, The Play That Goes Wrong follows the accident-prone Cornley Drama Society's production of The Murder at Haversham Manor. The classic murder mystery play-within-a-play slowly but surely descends into madness with each error. With flubbed lines, swapped props, and imploding sets throughout their show, the Cornley actors and stage crew became increasingly frustrated as all of the disasters tested their resolve to push through to the play's conclusion.

 

From standing in for shattered set pieces to suffering over-the-top injuries, The Play That Goes Wrong demands every performer employ exceptional physical animation and mobility. Westfield students met this demand aptly, executing comical combat, laborious lifts, and visible realizations of impending disaster in an authentic frenzy. Performers likewise rose to the characterization challenges posed by a play-within-a-play, offering hints at the Cornley Society members behind The Murder at Haversham Manor through nonverbal communication loaded with emotion, whether distressed or determined.

 

A few performers handled this acting inception with notable grace. TJ Brescia conveyed Dennis's nerves onstage with trademark tics, including a twitch of his mustache and a panicked loss of his Haversham character's British accent in moments of distress. Elias Collier and Matthew Florian characterized more optimistic responses to the play's mishaps: Collier stifled irritated expressions and reactions to injury to embody Jonathan's disgruntled perseverance, while Florian portrayed Joe's good-natured adaptation through bold pantomime and postural adjustments. Anusha Krishnan captured Annie's transformation from reluctant understudy to scenery-chewing diva with the emergence of her exaggerated Cockney accent and convincingly feral attacks on fellow actors.

 

Amidst larger-than-life characters, Westfield's technical elements delivered punchlines of their own. While their timing may have been less than ideal for the Cornley Society, erratic light and sound cues and the climactic collapse of nearly the entire set were timed perfectly by stage manager Diya Mohanty to secure the illusion of mayhem truly unfolding in the moment. Eloise Latimer and Abigail Matthews led the creation of a set primed for this seamless destruction, equipped with moving parts such as a rotating bookshelf and opening grandfather clock that allowed for humorous moments of actor interaction. Kayla Gadley's marketing cleverly utilized online trends to embellish the show's social media promotion with refreshingly comedic videos and captions.

 

In an ever-changing world, all too many catastrophes and conditions seem to lie outside of one's control. Westfield's hilarious spectacle playfully underscored the joy that can be found in these irreparable predicaments. With an emphasis on characters' responses to misfortune and resilience at its heart, The Play That Goes Wrong reminded audiences that the show, like life when fallen into disarray, must go on.

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