The 2007 Cappie nominations were announced Monday night and, once again, the three local high schools cleaned up with a whopping 23 total nominations.
CHANTILLY LED the way with 12 for "The Man Who Came to Dinner," followed by Westfield with seven for "Macbeth" and Centreville with four for "Jekyll & Hyde."
"I couldn't be prouder of Chantilly's finest," said Chantilly Principal Jim Kacur. "It was a terrific play, so I'm pleased it's getting the recognition it deserves."
The Cappies critics voted May 7, and the awards will be presented Sunday, May 27, at 7 p.m., at the eighth annual Cappies Gala at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Among the top honors, Chantilly was nominated for Best Play and Centreville, Best Musical. Westfield's Stephen Hatch received a Lead Actor in a Play nod, and Centreville's Nate (Betancourt) Rossini received a nomination for Lead Actor in a Musical.
Chantilly's Critics Team and Graduating Critic Leanne Williams received nods, as did Westfield's Jonathan Goldsmith for Returning Critic.
In the technical arena, Chantilly garnered five nominations for Sets, Costumes, Makeup, Props & Effects, and Stage Crew. Both Centreville and Westfield got nominations for lighting.
Westfield's percussionists and musicians received a Cappies nod in the Creativity category. Westfield's Sarah Pike and Nate Peterson were nominated for Cameo Actress and Actor, respectively, and the Three Weird Sisters from Westfield's "Macbeth" were nominated for Ensemble in a Play.
Chantilly's Lindsay Arnsmyer and Jake Ashey received respective nominations for Comic Actress and Actor in a Play, and Chantilly's Chloe West and Ryan Dalusung got respective nods for Featured Actress and Actor in a Play. And Centreville's "Confrontation" was nominated for Best Song.
CHANTILLY THEATER Director Ed Monk said his students were pleased and happy with all their nominations. As for him, he said, "I've learned over the years not to count on them. It's so competitive and there are so many schools that it's a nice surprise when you get them."
Regarding the technical awards, it was the first time Chantilly entered the props category because this play lent itself nicely to some interesting ones. Said Monk: "We had to build a mummy case, a crate of penguins, a cockroach farm and a glass of jelly that broke on stage, and the kids did a beautiful job."
As for sets, Chantilly nominees, Laura Kim, Ben Pardo and Wes Vitale, designed and built a home's interior — complete with moveable wall. "They went through the whole, creative process of how to do it, and it all turned out perfectly," said Monk.
Noting that it's Kendra McCullough and Leanne Williams' second time in a row to receive a Cappie nod for costumes, Monk said it's "a big accomplishment." Monk wasn't focused on makeup, so that nomination was a welcome surprise to him.
He said the 12-student stage crew was honored because the play just had one big scene change, but it had to be flawless. "They had to pull out a huge wall, 20 by 16, with doors and windows in it, move furniture, bring in a 9-foot Christmas tree, plug it into a wall and surround it with 20 presents — and do it all in 20 seconds," said Monk. "And they got applause every night — which is pretty rare for a scene change."
He said the critics team did well and graduating critic Williams had many of her reviews published, organized Chantilly's other critics and did "an amazing job."
As a comic actor, Jake Ashey was "hysterical," said Monk. "The audience really liked him and he was on stage pretty much the whole time, so he earned it."
REGARDING COMIC actress Lindsay Arnsmyer, Monk said she's "the perfect example of a kid with only about 10 lines — but what she did with them made her role memorable. And most of it wasn't talking; it was her body language and her expressions."
Similarly, featured actor Ryan Dalusung "was only in one scene — maybe five minutes, tops — and what he did was so funny and impressive that the kids remembered him," said Monk. "And that's what you want. And now I don't feel so bad that he had to sit around for eight hours at rehearsals for five minutes of stage time."
Monk said featured actress Chloe West's part "fit her to a T. She's a dramatic actress in real life and she really hit it. But she's not mean, at all, so she was able to have fun with it."
Overall, though, he's happiest about the nomination for best play. "That's the really nice one because it involves everybody," he explained.
"When we double cast, I flip a coin to see who'll be the Cappies cast," continued Monk. "But if it had been the other cast [performing for the critics], I'm convinced they would have gotten almost identical nominations. So I get medallions for both casts, and everyone goes to the gala because it's a group effort and they're all equally deserving."
At Westfield, Theater Director Scott Pafumi is also proud of his Cappie-nominated students. "It's nice to receive seven nominations," he said. "Really, it's six for the play and one for a critic. It's the first time we've gotten a critic nomination solo, and I'm very proud that Jonathan Goldsmith was able to do that. And he's a first-year critic."
Pafumi also just learned that Westfield's thespians will receive a special commendation. "Out of 55 schools, the top five — as chosen by the Cappies Steering Committee — get the nominations," he explained. "The second tier of six to 10 schools get commendee citations. So we're one of the five commendees that are in the top 10 of all the schools."
He's also especially proud that "Macbeth's" ensemble of the Three Weird Sisters received a nomination. "They really were a strength from the show," said Pafumi. "And I think they probably represented the best spirit of the play — along with Stephen Hatch, who got a lead-actor nomination."
At Centreville, Theater Director Mark Rogers, in his eighth year there, always stands at the exit to hear comments as the audience leaves his shows. And, he said, "I knew ['Jekyll & Hyde'] was a special show when, after Saturday night's performance, every person stopped and told me, 'This is the best show I've seen done by a high school, ever.'"
Rogers said an elderly couple even told him they saw the show on Broadway, eight years ago, and "Your show was better."
Afterward, said Rogers, "I told the cast, 'You've given it your all, and that's the greatest award.' And the fact that we were nominated for Best Musical made the students happy and excited that they were recognized in that way. I can easily say this is the best show I've ever done at Centreville High — and we've already won Best Play and Best Musical for our past efforts."