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Schools Get 16 Cappie Nods

Westfield receives 9, Chantilly, 7, and Centreville, 3.

Garnering a total of 16 nominations, the three local high schools did themselves proud Monday night when the 2006 Cappie award nominations were announced. Westfield received nine nominations, Chantilly, 7, and Centreville, three.

The seventh annual Cappies Gala — when the winners are announced — will be Sunday, June 11, at 7 p.m. at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Both Chantilly, for "Auntie Mame," and Westfield, for "Our Town," are nominated for one of the top honors, Best Play. And, said jubilant Chantilly Theater Director Ed Monk, "With all the nominations between us, Westfield and Centreville, western Fairfax still rules Cappies!"

Besides Best Play, Westfield is also nominated for: Sound, Ken Storch; Lighting, Mike Gendreau; Ensemble in a Play, stage managers Natalie McLarty and Branson Reese; Cameo Actress, Jade Jones; Cameo Actor, Paul Bozzo; Male Vocalist, Kevin Manship; Lead Actress in a Play, Sarah Pike; and Lead Actor in a Play, Will Quinn. (Reese's first cameo nomination — and win — was in his freshman year as one of the gravediggers in "Hamlet").

Chantilly's other nominations include: Returning Critic, Leanne Williams; Sets, Kevin Jones and Marley Monk; Costumes, Kendra McCullough and Leanne Williams; Stage Crew; Featured Actress in a Play, Courtney Siegert; and Lead Actress in a Play, Abba Kiser.

In addition, Chantilly's critics team of Marley Monk, Faith McAuliffe, Kelly Sharon, Jake Ashey, Leanne Williams and April Glick was also selected as Commended Critics. It means this team was among the top 10 of the 58 Cappies critics teams. The members won't compete on stage, but do receive honorary Cappies medallions.

Centreville's play, "Noises Off," is nominated for: Sets, Matt Karrenbauer; Props & Effects, Sarah Langan; and Featured Actor in a Play, David Barchet.

"We're very happy with the nominations because the kids get the recognition that they deserve," said Monk. "The competition is so tough, you really can't expect anything, so it's all a nice surprise."

In some respects, he said, the nominations count more than the actual awards because the students' hard work is acknowledged and they get to enjoy being nominated, having their medallions and anticipating the ceremony, itself.

Monk said he has no idea, at all, how well Chantilly will do in any of the categories, but did say he's "extremely proud of the job [his students] did. The play was double cast, we only had a short time to rehearse and we had a complicated play and set. Added Monk: "I always tell the kids, 'If you've made the audience happy, you've already won.' The Cappie nominations are just gravy and extra-nice stuff."

Centreville Theater Director Mark Rogers believes "Noises Off" — out of all the shows he's been associated with at the school — is "the best show I've ever done at Centreville, as far as level of difficulty, script, comic timing and technical aspects like set, props and lighting are concerned."

"It's an extremely tough play for high-school students to do, and my cast did it to perfection," he said. "I'm tickled that we got three Cappie nominations but, in my mind, we won in every category."

Rogers described Barchet as someone who always gives 100 percent so "the fact that he was nominated was no surprise to me. It was well deserved. And our props girl, Sarah Langan, was great." As for Karrenbauer, said Rogers, "Matt is a phenomenal carpenter. He basically built a two-story house on stage. I'm proud of all three of them and of the entire cast."

He also explained how much the audience's reaction meant to him and his thespians. "On closing night, when the lights went down — literally, before they went up again — the audience was standing on its feet applauding," he said. "And that was the best award."

Westfield Theater Director Scott Pafumi said he, Monk and Rogers will all work together this summer at the Institute for The Fine and Performing Arts at Robinson Secondary School. It's four weeks in July, and 600 students — mainly from Fairfax County — will participate to receive extra training in their specialties.

Pafumi said that, last year, when he announced that Westfield would be performing "Our Town," lots of people tried to discourage him from doing it, saying "Everybody does that play." But, he said, "I wanted to give the kids a chance to be in a show they hadn't been in. And when this play continues to garner awards, it just proves it's a tried-and-true, classic piece of theater."

He's also pleased that Westfield is "continuing to uphold the standard of excellence [already established at the school] and that talent doesn't graduate out of this program. We continue to train and maintain a high standard of performance and technical expertise. Like with a good field, I know [assistant theater director] Zoe Dillard and I will continue to harvest a good crop of actors. Our job is to nurture them and set the bar high, and it's in keeping with the Westfield High mission statement, 'Tradition Never Graduates.'"

Noting that his students are right in the middle of getting ready to put on a huge musical, "Oklahoma," Pafumi said it goes to show that the school doesn't rest on its laurels.

Regarding the Cappie nominations, he said, "I love that Kevin Manship got a vocalist nomination in a straight play — where he's up against people in musicals. It's a category for which plays normally aren't eligible."

Happy, as well, with the technical nominations, Pafumi said Westfield's been nominated every year for sound and lighting. "Stylistically, 'Our Town' is meant to be a low-tech, piece-of-imagination show," he said. "So for it to be nominated in these two categories shows that our technical prowess stood out in an otherwise simple show."

He's also delighted that, once again, Westfield will get to perform a scene from its play at The Kennedy Center during the Cappies Gala. "Fourteen kids — five representing the Best Play category — will walk in with nine nominations," said Pafumi. "So anything else after that would be a nice bonus."

He said he picks plays to celebrate the particular talents of the students he has at the time and to also teach them something educational about the theater. And, he added, "I like to think we always operate at an 'A' level. We do everything we're expected, do everything we should and outdo ourselves every year."