Cappies provide dramatic ending

Awards: Student theater's year finishes with gowns, glamour and cheers.

Howard Live

May 27, 2004|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

THE CAPPIES — The Cappie awards had the golden statuettes, the glamorous gowns and the showy musical numbers - but all of the winners at the first Baltimore gala to honor high school theater were teenagers.

The Cappies - short for Critics and Awards Program - uses student critics to review high school productions and to vote on year-end awards, which were given Monday night at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The evening embraced award-show glitz punctuated by the screams and whoops of audience members full of school spirit.

"It makes us feel really special," said Ashley Walther, a River Hill junior who helped hand out awards at the gala. She said the Cappies program brings attention to high school theater, adding, "I definitely think it's helping morale."

The Cappies program was started in the Washington area in 1999 by William Strauss, an author and co-founder of the Capitol Steps comedy group, to celebrate the achievements of creative teenagers.

This was the first year for the Baltimore Cappies, with one private and 11 Howard County public schools, and two Baltimore County public schools participating.

Each school selects several student critics who attend the shows, participate in discussions and give scores for acting and production. The critics also write reviews, the best of which are published in newspapers and online.

At the end of the year, there is a final day of voting to choose winners.

Though the competition was exciting, "in some ways the awards were almost incidental," said Pam Land, drama program director at River Hill High School and chair of the Cappies of Baltimore Steering Committee. "To me, the big deal was the wonderful community of theater students that was created."

Carole Lehan, program director and a drama teacher at Glenelg Country School, said the show was a great way to finish the program's first year. The critics especially don't get a lot of praise, she said. "This way, they got to see that they made a difference to their peers, not just on paper, but in some more dramatic way."

Students rehearsed the gala for several days, preparing an all-student orchestra and Cappies singers and dancers to open and close the show. Throughout the evening, there were scenes and songs from nominated productions.

Lehan was master of ceremonies with radio personality Johnny Holliday. Professional critics, actors, directors and other theater supporters handed out the awards.

Winners were limited to six-word acceptance speeches, an economy of verbiage with kind and amusing results.

"My crew made it all possible," said Lauren Glover, accepting the award for lighting Mount Hebron's production of Will Rogers Follies.

"Thank you, nuns," said Wilde Lake's Judith Ingber, who tied for the cameo-actress award for her role in The Sound of Music

"Tom Sankey is the bomb-diggity," James Fritz said of his school's drama director. Fritz accepted the best-musical award for Mount Hebron's Will Rogers Follies.

Backstage, student stage mangers and faculty directors kept hundreds of people moving. About 7:30 p.m., nuns and children from Wilde Lake's The Sound of Music were lining up for their musical number while warriors from Glenelg's Pippin walked around carrying swords and severed limbs. Winners were escorted backstage for photos, and student helpers stood by with the trophies in the shape of stars.

Katy Wolf came offstage wide-eyed and grinning with her award for comic actress in a play.

"It's my birthday, and that's the best present," said the Long Reach junior. She played Miracle Max in the school's production of The Princess Bride.

Wolf is an exchange student from Germany living for a year in Elkridge. After the show, she said she had never acted before coming to the United States but has fallen in love with it. "When I came here, I wanted to study law," she said. "Now I want to study theater."

Scott Chahanovich, a senior at Mount Hebron, said he was not expecting to hear his name called as the winner for featured actor in a musical for his role in Will Rogers Follies.

"It sounded like some foreign language," he said, adding that someone had to give him a push to get up and accept his award.

Chahanovich said it can take more time and effort for people to enjoy and support the theater than to go out and cheer at an athletic contest. But he is glad the Cappies are doing their part to encourage audiences.

"I'm happy that finally drama is getting its attention," he said.

2004 Cappies winners

Female Critic: Megan Jeffrey, River Hill

Male Critic: David Calder, Atholton

Critics Team: River Hill

Sets: Fourth-period stage craft class, Long Reach, The Princess Bride

Makeup: Ned Collins-Chase, Danny Goldstein, Mary Kelley, Anastasia Pasmanik, Anna Prokop, Glenelg Country, The Wiz

Lighting: Lauren Glover, Mount Hebron, Will Rogers Follies

Costumes: Nick Aburn, Centennial, Bells Are Ringing!

Stage Crew: Mount Hebron, Will Rogers Follies

Choreography: Katie Brazaitis, Centennial, Bells Are Ringing!

Orchestra: Centennial, Bells Are Ringing!

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