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Chantilly’s Next Stop: The Kennedy Center

Funny, heartwarming play receives 11 Cappie nominations.

Stephanie Feeback (as Alice) and Matt Calvert (as Tony) in a tender moment from the play.

Stephanie Feeback (as Alice) and Matt Calvert (as Tony) in a tender moment from the play. Courtesy of Christine Choi

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Stephanie Feeback (as Alice) and Matt Calvert (as Tony) in a tender moment from the play.

Chantilly High’s Cappies play was called, “You Can’t Take It with You.” But if all goes well for the school at next month’s Cappies ceremony, Chantilly could take home some trophies for its side-splitting play.

It received 11 nominations, and all the high-school theater winners will be unveiled, June 9, during the 14th annual Cappies Gala at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Chantilly was nominated for best play; lead actor and actress in a play; supporting actress, comic actor and featured actress in a play; creativity; props; set; lighting and critics team.

“We’re thrilled,” said Director Ed Monk. “And we’re pleased with the best play nomination because it means the critics liked our show. I asked the kids to create real people, not just characters, and I think they did — and that’s why it meant more to the audience.”

So although the characters were zany, they had to be believable. Because of it, said Monk, “One minute, you’re laughing hysterically; and the next minute, your heart’s breaking — so the play goes back and forth between laughter and sadness. And that’s really gratifying because that’s the way life is.”

Matt Calvert and Stephanie Feeback received best actor and actress nominations, and Monk said they were “a real team onstage; and together, they were a believable couple, very realistic. They did a beautiful job with all the subtle things they did and their reactions.”

Nominated for supporting actress was Brooke Johnson, and Monk called it “well-deserved. That part was originally written for a man, so she had to be a strong woman, but believable in the context of 1937. She couldn’t ham it up; she had to be more controlled.”

Josh Lutz is Chantilly’s comic actor nominee. “It’s a small part, so it’s nice that he was recognized,” said Monk. “The critics picked up on all the subtleties of his performance. And he stayed in character and reacted, even when the focus wasn’t on him.”

The featured actress nominee was Chloe Vasquez. “Besides working on the set, as did Josh, she was perfect for her part,” said Monk. “She was onstage only a minute, but she was hysterical. And she had to lay still and make everyone forget she was there.”

Honored for creativity were Roshni Gorur and Emily Sakowitz. They wrote the piano music for the opening, closing and transitions between scenes and, said Monk, “It worked out really well.” As for props, he said, “We’re happy they worked and we’re glad to get the nomination.”

Lutz, Vasquez, Drew Pardo and Mia Rickenbach were nominated for their set of the inside of a huge, two-story house. “They were excited about the show and really worked well together on the concept, period and color scheme,” said Monk. “They were dedicated and enthusiastic, and three of them were in the show, as well, so they had to keep going back and forth.”

They developed several designs before their final one and also had to fit in a trap door tall enough for the actors to go down. “And it took lots of time and work for them to create ‘rooms’ behind doors and hallways to keep the audience in the world of the show,” said Monk. “In 14 years of Cappies, we’ve been nominated for set, every year but two — and that’s a credit to the kids, who learn from each other.”

Pardo was also nominated for lighting. “The tech kids had the same level of commitment as the actors, and that’s why the house, lights, sound and costumes all seemed real and came together so well,” said Monk. “Usually, a lighting nomination is for really flashy stuff, like special effects, so to get it for a straight play was a really nice compliment. Drew even took the time to wire all the lamps so they could be dimmed with the stage lights for a really nice effect.”

Regarding the critics team, Monk said the members “worked hard and it was nice to also have freshmen on the team this year.” The show was double cast and, said Monk, “Both casts were equally talented and did a beautiful job. We picked a name out of the hat for the Cappies show cast.”

Now it’s on to The Kennedy Center, where Monk says he’ll be pleased with whatever happens. “The last time we got 11 nominations was for ‘The Front Page,’ about 10 years ago, and we didn’t win anything,” he said. “So if we get something, it’s great; but if not, we’ll still have fun at the gala, dressing up and performing. It’s a celebratory night and everybody will have a good time.”