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6 Cappie Nods for Centreville

Garnering six Cappie nominations for its rendition of "Fame — The Musical," Centreville High theater students will head to this Sunday's awards ceremony at The Kennedy Center with hopes high.

Centreville's nominations are for Best Musical; Ensemble in a Musical; Female Dancer, Khori Rogers; Comic Actress in a Musical, Paige Williams; Lead Actress in a Musical, Sarah Villyard; and Best Song, "There She Goes."

Senior Eric St. Peter, 18, said he'd have been surprised if Centreville didn't get a nod for Best Musical. "Our whole cast was amazing," he said. "Overall, it was such a strong show, and I was proud of it. There are some good shows out there, but we have as much a chance [to win] as anyone else."

CLASSMATE Mike Mohyla, 17, was hoping for a Best Musical nomination. "I'm one of the critics, and I've seen two of the other nominated shows," he said. "Both were impressive, but I was also impressed with our cast and all the things that had to go into our show and work together, like the songs, dances, sound, blocking, band and acting."

"We'd probably go to the Cappies even if we weren't nominated," said Senior Dana Moreno. "But going there knowing we're nominated for something — and have a chance of winning — is a fabulous feeling."

Although "Fame" had a cast of 60, Moreno said the "high energy" of the ensemble and lead actors made it noteworthy.

Looking forward to The Kennedy Center, senior Nicole Claussen said she enjoys "getting dressed up and feeling more mature," and she's excited to see what the Cappies ceremony is like. "At first, we were kind of scared but, when 'Fame' all came together, it showed our hard work and it was just awesome." As for taking home a Best Musical Cappie, she said, "I think we can do it."

Stephanie Benner, 18, played Mabel and first heard about the Best Musical nod from castmate Lauren Robinson who played Lambchops. "I got a phone call at 10:30 at night, and she's screaming, 'We got nominated; we got nominated,'" said Benner. "I was really excited, and I hope we win because we really gave it our all."

She said receiving the nomination was a wonderful way for the seniors to end their last year at the school. "Most of the leads were seniors, so it's great to go out on top," she said. "I've never been in a closer cast with so much energy."

Centreville drama director Mark Rogers was also happy his students were acknowledged. "I knew the kids had done phenomenal work and were having fun," he said. "And when that happens, you usually end up with something special."

SINCE CENTREVILLE won the Best Play Cappie, last year, he wondered, therefore, whether the critics would judge with an open mind. "But they did," he said. "And they even came out of the show singing the song."

Rogers said it's really an honor to be "at this end of the county with Westfield and Chantilly because I know their theater teachers are going to be doing something special — and that makes me work that much harder. The one thing you know about Westfield, Chantilly and Centreville is that we're going to do the work and put on a good show."

He's also pleased when students from the other two high schools stop Westfield students at the mall and at sporting events and say, "I really like what you guys are doing." Said Rogers: "It's really great. Our kids support them, too, and I think the Cappies have helped foster this bond between the schools."

Senior Sarah Villyard, 17, called her Lead Actress nomination "shocking" because it's her first year in acting. But, she said, "I connected really easily with the character." She also attributes her Cappie nod to "good preparation from our theater teacher, Mr. Rogers."

All in all, she said, "I am so excited. It's going to be my first year performing at The Kennedy Center." She, too, wasn't surprised by the Best Musical nomination. Said Villyard: "We have such a great ensemble, cast and director that we really earned our spot."

Regarding the Best Song nod, she said she's honored to be able to perform it at The Kennedy Center. But, she added, "It wouldn't be anything without the ensemble and the dancers because they really make the song. I'm just the front man."

Centreville's Ensemble nomination is for the "Mabel's Prayer" segment performed by Paige Williams, Khori Rogers, Megan Moran, Jessica Altman and Kaelyn Arnold. "Mabel's hysterical, singing and acting in the song, and we were four crazy girls being backup singers," said Arnold. Still, the nomination surprised her because "there are a lot of other plays up against us."

Megan Moran, 18, is looking forward to performing that scene at The Kennedy Center. "It's just great to be nominated, so whatever happens, happens," she said.

JUNIOR KHORI ROGERS learned of her Dancer nomination from Williams "and then we started yelling and screaming," said Rogers. "I love being onstage, so I'd like to think the audience could see that in my dancing. But I was so excited for the ensemble because we all had so much fun doing it."

Comic Actress nominee Williams said her feelings about it were that of her mother who, after finding out, "screamed so loud and so long that I thought she had lost her mind." Williams attributes her nod to the fact that everyone had such a great time doing the show that it was easier to make her role funny.

She said "Fame" was the best theater experience of her high-school career, and she's thrilled to get to perform at The Kennedy Center. "I've watched Judith Gemison, Julie Andrews, Sean Connery and Stevie Wonder on TV all get their Kennedy Center Honors," she said. "And just to be in a place like that would be amazing."