For the past week, Marshall Nannes has been running daily rehearsals for his directorial debut — a Cappies showcase that will be held at the Alden Theatre in McLean. Thus far, everything has been going smoothly — too smoothly if you ask Nannes.
"Right now I only have one concern, and it's a big concern," said Nannes, 19. "And that is that nothing has gone wrong yet."
Cappies, an all-volunteer, nationwide critics and awards program for high school theater, was founded by Bill Strauss and Judy Bowns seven years ago in Fairfax County. The first annual Cappies Showcase will take place this Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24 at the McLean Community Center's Alden Theatre. Students from Virginia, Florida and Texas schools will give encore performances of Cappie award winning shows. Scenes from student written productions will also be a part of the event.
"We've felt in years past that we wanted to give Cappie alumni a chance to show everybody what they do," said Strauss.
Nannes, a 2005 graduate of Walt Whitman High School in Maryland, was the Cappies National Capital Area Best Male Vocalist in 2005. He was also nominated for Best Song in 2005, and he was the Cappies Best Lead Actor in a Musical in 2004. However, the upcoming Cappies Showcase will be his first time directing a big production.
"I got a call from Bill [Strauss] back in January, and I jumped at the opportunity," said Nannes.
Nannes then spent the next five months picking out songs for the Showcase and pouring over student work for skits.
"It was primarily logistical stuff," said Nannes. "I had to read a lot of short 1-act plays written by students … I literally had about 400 pages to read, and I had to get that down to seven skits. I did as much as I could ahead of time."
THE SHOWCASE is two acts, the first of which opens with a "West Side Story" medley, and closes with a rendition of "Blame Canada" from the television show "South Park." The second act opens with "The Facebook Song," a tune that pokes fun at the popular social network Web site Facebook.com. The show closes with "When the Saints Go Marching In," a number that is meant to acknowledge the Cappies Katrina Aid performance that took place last fall.
"We decided to do 'Blame Canada' to recognize Ottawa, Canada because they just opened the first international Cappies chapter in Ottawa," said Nannes.
Nannes is working with a cast of about 15, half of whom are recent high school graduates, and half of whom are still in high school. Cast members had to have been Cappies award winners, Cappies award nominees, or Cappies dancers or singers in the last year, to qualify for the showcase. Patrick Barrett graduated from McLean High School in 2005, and won a Cappies award for Lead Actor in a Play. He is currently a student at Columbia University in New York.
"I got an e-mail from Marshall about the show and I thought it would be kind of fun and a good opportunity for the summer," said Barrett.
Barrett said he has enjoyed being a part of the Showcase, and that it has given him "more dance experience than ever before."
"That's been interesting because dance really isn't my thing," he said.
Rachel Fleming, a student at The Madeira School in McLean, is also participating in the show as she was a Cappies dancer during this past school year, and participated in the recent Cappies gala event. Fleming said that she enjoys being a part of school theater because it provides her with the opportunity to meet people outside of her regular social circle.
"I did my first musical my freshman year, and I got to know a lot of seniors that I probably would never have met otherwise," said Fleming.
The Cappies Showcase has provided her with a similar experience.
"It's been a lot of fun, and I've gotten to meet a lot of new people," said Fleming.
Marshall Nannes has been impressed with how quickly the cast has picked up the songs and blocking.
"With these guys I get to see how everything looks immediately," said Nannes. "It's like instant gratification."