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Burke Homeschooler Wins Cappie

Seventh annual gala honors best of the best in high school theater.

This year's Cappies award ceremony was a night characterized by firsts, including for Burke's Chelsea Cook, the first home-schooled student to ever win a Cappie award.

The seventh annual Cappies gala, honoring the best in high-school theater, took place Sunday, June 11 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Nominees from 58 schools from throughout the Washington Metropolitan area donned their finest formal attire and cheered for their friends and classmates while eagerly awaiting the announcement of each winner.

WHEN THE 3 1/2-HOUR ceremony was done, schools from Loudoun and Arlington counties walked off with the two top awards for the first time in Cappies history. H-B Woodlawn in Arlington won for Best Play with "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," and "Best Musical" honors went to Stone Bridge in Loudoun County for "Seussical."

Corey-Antonio Hawkins of Duke Ellington was Lead Actor in a Play for "The Laramie Project," and Abba Kiser of Chantilly High was Lead Actress in a Play for "Auntie Mame." Lead Actor in a Musical went to Stone Bridge's Mace Sorenson, and Lead Actress in a Musical went to Clifton's Nicole Smith of Seton for "Annie, Get Your Gun."

T.C. Williams in Alexandria won the award for Critics Team for the fourth year in a row. And Burke's Chelsea Cook, named Rising Critic, became the first home-schooled student to ever receive a Cappie. "It's been a great experience. It's the most amazing experience ever; words can't express how I feel," Cook said.

Other local winners include Matt Provance, 17, from Lake Braddock for best Cameo actor for "1984," and Sound Award winner Danielle Schender from Lake Braddock for "1984".

"I'm in shock," said Matt, a junior at Lake Braddock. He said he believes his performance won because "it evoked emotion." He plans to display his award on his bookshelf at home.

Schender, the only female nominated in her category said she was impressed with her award. "I really wasn't doing anything in theater but, now, here I am," she said.

Samuel Rabinovitz of Annandale High was pleased with his Comic Actor in a Musical Cappie for "Once Upon a Mattress."

"I feel ecstatic," said Samuel, a senior. He didn't think he'd win because "I won Comic Actor in a Play last year as the humbug in the children's show, 'The Phantom Tollbooth.' This year, I played King Sextimus — who's a mute. The man has three lines in the whole play, so I had to do it all with body language and facial expressions."

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-11th), there to help present the Cappie for Props & Effects, praised the nominees in all the categories. "Each year, the level of performance just keeps getting better and better and better," he said. "Forget the Tonys; this is it, as far as I'm concerned."