It was a gala like no other. Actors, dancers, choreographers, critics and family and friends from more than 50 high schools from around Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., attended the 2004 Cappies awards program last Sunday at The Kennedy Center. The awards program honors the best in high school theater.
At the end of the night, Alexandria-area schools, including those in the Mount Vernon area, won a number of coveted Cappies.
And the Winners Were:
Female Critic — Lauren Abramson, senior, 18, of T.C. Williams.
"I am speechless. It was really enjoyable being so involved in the theater atmosphere and being able to see all the other schools' productions. Instead of acting on stage, I got to see it from the other side, instead."
Male Critic — Sam Willmott, Thomas Jefferson High School.
Female Dancer — Colette Yori, junior, 17, Edison High School. "The Boyfriend."
"I'm speechless. I was hoping I'd win, and I'm really happy because my whole family was able to be here — including my grandparents, Dan and Judy Shade of Pennsylvania.
Male Dancer — Zach Heller, senior, 19, of Edison High School.
It's the third year in a row that he's won this award. He plans to attend the University of Arizona to major in dance and molecular and cellular biology. He hopes to continue dancing and, possibly, later, do something in the field of science.
He wasn't sure whether he'd win, this year. "I was up against some very talented men, and it could have gone to anybody," he said. "I feel very privileged to have won it."
Stage Crew — Mt. Vernon High School, "Peter Pan." Uland Berry, Monique Purnell and the Flight Crew. Representing the seven-member stage crew were Karen Cordova, senior; Lee Maguire, senior and Emily Witucki, junior.
"I'm really happy. I didn't expect it, at all. I'm excited — it's a good graduation present," said Cordova.
"We stayed in school during spring break to learn how to fly. It feels great [winning a Cappie]," said Maguire.
"It's absolutely amazing. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and it's a great experience to be recognized for all your hard work," said Witucki.
Comic Actress in a Musical — Audrey Bales, senior, 18, West Potomac High School, "Les Miserables."
"There was no way it was gonna be me! I am pleased, proud and thrilled. Out of 57 schools, I was just happy to be a nominee and would have been content to walk out of here knowing I'd made it that far."
Orchestra — West Potomac High School.
Speaking on the orchestra's behalf were sisters Erica and Juli Smith.
"What an amazing experience, and a great way to end our senior year," said Erica.
"We're really proud to have won, and it's thanks to the help we got from the cast and crew and the rest of the orchestra," said Juli. And both sisters, plus students Sarah Klein and Sara O'Keefe, all gave a big thank you to orchestra director Steven Rice.
Choreography — Zach Heller, Edison High School.
"You never know. I saw a lot of shows with a lot of good choreography, this year. I'm just very happy they liked what I did. I feel great," said Heller.
Featured Actress in a Musical — Rachel Greenspan, West Potomac,
a senior, 18.
"I feel amazing — it's a big honor. There are so many schools — I'm a critic, too — so I know there was a lot of competition. But I got an amazing part that I dreamed about playing since I was little. I'll probably bring my Cappie with me to college at Tufts University, where I'll be majoring in international relations."
Featured Actor in a Musical — Jake Odmark, Bishop Ireton, "Godspell." Senior, 18.
"I'm happy, but the ensemble [members] are the real stars of the show. It was my stage debut, so I just did what I thought felt normal," said Odmark.
Critics Team — T.C. Williams High School.
Lead critic, Will Cooper, a senior, said, "We thought we might have a chance. We're all elated, right now, and experiencing some extreme, unabashed euphoria."
Ensemble in a Musical — Bishop Ireton, the Apostles in "Godspell."
Kristin Boos, a senior, said, "I feel ecstatic. It's amazing. I was confident, with our cast, but you never know."
Caroline Schreiber, senior, added, "We had a lot of good competition this year, and we are all so excited to have won."
Katie Miller, another senior attributed their win to "the tight-knit cast. Our hearts were in it, and we grew together into a community."