Chantilly High received five Cappie nominations for its play, "Don't Drink the Water," and theater director Ed Monk is delighted.
Its nominations are Male Critic, Chris Miller; Sets, Marley Monk and Greg Scali; Cameo Actor, Jae Laroya; Comic Actress in a Play, Nikki Calonge; and Lead Actress in a Play, Meredith Lynch.
"They're all wonderful kids and they're all very deserving," said Monk, who's also Marley's dad. "I'm especially thrilled because my daughter is one of the nominees. The set took a long time to put together, but came out really well. Greg and Marley did a good job. People on the faculty said it was nicer than their own houses."
He said Miller was in charge of all the Chantilly Cappie critics and "really took on a lot of responsibility." Regarding Laroya, Monk said, "I liked the play because it had a lot of goofier, smaller parts in it, so it was nice to see that somebody got recognized for that, as well."
He noted that Calonge went to Governors School last year for theater, and she'll attend NYU Theatre Arts School. Said Monk: "It's very hard to get into, so everyone's very pleased for her."
AS FOR LYNCH, he said, "The way her part is written, someone could do it and not be noticed, so she really did well to stand out as much as she did." Monk said there are so many schools and the competition has gotten so strong that he has no idea, at all, how Chantilly will do at the Cappies ceremony Sunday night at The Kennedy Center.
"But being nominated is quite an honor," he said. Besides that, Monk will be stage manager for the Cappies Gala, and 12 Chantilly students will be there as "GIGS" and "BITS" — girls in gowns and boys in tuxedos. "They'll escort the presenters and hold the trophies and envelopes," he said. "That's a lot of fun for them — just like at the Academy Awards."
In addition, five Chantilly students will be assistant stage managers. They are Nick Crowley, Stephanie Morrison, Chris Miller, Debbie Mielo and Marley Monk.
Senior Calonge, 18, said she liked her Comic Actress character, Sister Drobney, because "it was an excuse for me to go a little wild. It was a fun character and just stood out when I read the script."
"It's really flattering to get a Cappie nomination," she said. "But you do the play because you're going to have a good time. Just to be nominated is a good feeling, and going to The Kennedy Center will be an excuse to get dressed up."
As one of nine critics from Chantilly, Miller saw 11 plays, but didn't expect to receive a nomination of his own. "But I was happy," he said. "And it's a nice end for my senior year and for critics."
He said it was fun being a Cappie critic. "You get to meet lots of people from other schools and see a variety of musicals and plays," he said. "I love drama, so it's a great experience."
Miller, 17, said anywhere from 20-50 critics from different schools are at each show. "The hardest part is when you're evaluating at the end of the evening, getting everyone [reviewing that same play] to agree on who should be nominated for a Cappie," he said. "It must be a majority."
The best part, he said, is "just being able to critique people in an open setting where I can have fun with it. I was thrilled to be nominated, and I'm excited about going to The Kennedy Center. As a stage manager that night, I'll be busy backstage."
This is Chantilly's fifth nomination in a row for Best Set and, although he was surprised to receive it, senior Scali, 18, was pleased. "A lot of the reviews said [our set] looked really realistic," he said.
Scali said the toughest part to do was the window and the bomb that came crashing through it. His favorite part was the double staircase: "I thought it was pretty nifty."
SOPHOMORE MONK said it was nice to "continue the tradition" of Set nominations. "I'm thrilled and honored because the competition is really hard this year."
She thinks Chantilly's set stood out because "we had two stories and two, curved staircases, and it was all student-built." Regarding the Cappies, she said, "To have people support high-school theater makes everybody feel good."
Junior Jae Laroya, 17, initially thought his Cameo-nominated character was boring. So on Chantilly's Cappie-performance night, he added a twitch and a tic, and the audience loved him. As for the Cappies, he said, "It's great enough to be able to do what you love to do. And when you're recognized like that, it's an added bonus."
Lead Actress nominee Meredith Lynch, 16, was surprised with her nod, but excited. When she found out, she said, she and her parents screamed for 15 minutes. And she's looking forward to the nominees parade at The Kennedy Center. Said Lynch: "It may be my only time on stage, that night."