"Fiddler on the Roof" is all about tradition, and Westfield High continued its tradition of excellence in theater by winning three Cappie awards, Sunday night, at the sixth annual Cappies Gala at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
IT TOOK home the trophy for Best Musical, as well as Lead Actor in a Musical for junior Barry Armbruster's sensational performance in the lead role of Tevye. And courtesy of seniors Tara Mitchell, Michelle Murgia and Megan Meadows, Westfield also garnered the top award for Choreography — in its first time being eligible for this category.
"Three times is the charm," said a jubilant Westfield Theater Director Scott Pafumi after the ceremony. "We won for Choreography, Lead Actor and Best Musical, and it's our third time in five years winning the top award in Cappies." (Westfield previously won the Best Musical Cappie for "Godspell" and the Best Play Cappie for "Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead").
"Everybody worked really hard, and we were fortunate to have all the right people for all the right parts," said Assistant Theater Director Zoe Dillard. "They really put their hearts into it and dedicated themselves. Westfield's a special place to work, and Scott's a special lead director to work for. It's like going to grad school, all over again, but for free."
Robinson Secondary racked up six Cappies — including Best Play honors — for its production of "Metamorphoses." It also received Cappies for Special Award: Creativity, Cameo Actress, Sound, Lighting and Costumes. For its third year in a row, T.C. Williams won the trophy for Critics Team.
ON SUNDAY, Westfield's thespians performed the number "L' Chaim" (To Life) from "Fiddler" before a sold-out crowd of 2,400 people. Shortly afterward, the school captured the Cappie for Choreography.
"Oh, my gosh, I was totally not expecting this," said Meadows, 18. "We won — it's so fun!" Calling it a "definite surprise," Murgia said, "It's our first award of the night, so it's really nice." Added Mitchell: "It felt good because it was with my two best friends."
Westfield students and parents also applauded wildly when Armbruster was announced as Lead Actor in a Musical. "I feel great — I'm shaking," he said afterward. He said he'd tried to keep his mind off of the possibility of winning, but actually getting the Cappie was "sublime."
In his acceptance speech, he thanked his mom Valerie "because she'd been in Eastern Europe, the past month, for her job, and she came back just for Cappies." Armbruster, 17, also thanked the cast and crew, plus Pafumi and Dillard "for giving me the opportunity to play this role."
Among those accepting Westfield's Cappie for Best Musical were students Megan Thrift and Michelle Polera. "It's absolutely exhilarating," said Thrift. "I think we were definitely up there [as a serious contender]. Our big competitors were 'Les Miserables' and 'West Side Story,' and we have mixed emotions about the award because some of our best friends go to Herndon and were in 'Les Miz'."
She then thanked Pafumi and Dillard for "their absolute dedication and hard work," as well as the orchestra and its director, Laura McBride, who were an integral part of "Fiddler." As for Polera, she said, "I feel psyched — it's awesome! I'm pleased because we were so emotionally involved with 'Fiddler' that it made [winning this Cappie] more personal."
ALSO THRILLED was Westfield Principal Mike Campbell. "I can't tell you how proud we are of Scott Pafumi and his group. The entire Performing Arts Department — including Laura McBride and [Choral Director] Jessica Lardin — and its achievements are a great pride to the school and the entire Westfield community. I knew when I saw the performance that, if it wasn't one of the best, I'd like to have seen the best."
Pafumi said that, since there's no Cappie category for Best Director because the Cappies are for students, winning the honor for best show "is the closest you get to winning Best Director. It's the best accolade you can get. It makes your program stand out as a good theater program, and winning it three times shows the continuity and consistency of excellence it has."