The Critics’ Award Program (CAPPIES) is a nationwide organization dedicated to supporting the performing arts. Faculty mentors select the best reviews submitted for publication, and student critics vote on the top performances for the CAPPIES Gala in May. Cardinal O’Hara is the only diocesan high school member of the 38 school Greater Philadelphia CAPPIES. Student critics vie to be published in local media outlets by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews.
O’Hara’s six-member Cappies team is off to a roaring start! The team has attended two local theater performances (at Episcopal Academy and Upper Merion High School) and reviews submitted for each of the performances have been selected from among the dozens submitted for publication. This is a tremendous honor for the students, for O’Hara and for Cappies moderator, Mr. David Kelly.
Junior and lead CAPPIES critic Kristin Ciampitti had her review of the Episcopal Academy production of Inherit the Wind selected for publication. Freshman Katie Tuberosa had her review for the Upper Merion production of The 39 Steps selected for publication.
Both students’ reviews are posted below. Congratulations and God bless, Kristin, Katie and our Cappies team!
INHERIT THE WIND at Episcopal Academy
Review by Kristin Ciampitti
Episcopal Academy brings us back to a pivotal time in U.S. history with the play Inherit the Wind. The talented actors and actresses take you right into the courthouse gallery to witness firsthand the evolution of the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
Set in Tennessee in 1925, Inherit the Wind is a fictional dramatization of the trial of Bertram Cates, a small-town high school teacher who chose not to teach creationism to his students, but rather Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which was illegal at the time. In the play, Cates is being defended by Henry Drummond, a renowned lawyer and known atheist. They are going up against Matthew Harrison Brady, who is a talented public speaker and presidential candidate.
Jacob Viscusi, who played Henry Drummond, delivered his lines with a seriousness and eloquence that gave his character depth. With the same intensity in his performance was Arnav Shiva, who portrayed Tom Davenport, the lawyer for Brady. The clash of these titans electrified every court scene.
Adelynn Anderson, the sarcastic reporter, E.K. Hornbeck, brought a bit of comic relief to the serious play. Mckee Bond, who was Matthew Harrison Brady, completely sold the slightly egotistical, religious, southern politician with his accent and mannerisms throughout the play.
Not only were the actors who had the lead roles passionate, but the townspeople were as well. In any scene involving a crowd of people, those with minor roles provided an enthusiastic response. One of the more notable scenes that this passion was evident in was the prayer meeting. They were yelling and getting on their knees as some of the more zealous religious people may do during these kinds of speeches. Everyone had their lines memorized and recited their complicated speeches without stuttering.
Not only was the acting amazing but the sets were too. The sets were well crafted and designed to utilize their resources wisely. In one scene, they pushed two tables together to create a platform for the prayer meeting. The lighting was another aspect that brought the play together. The lighting was well done and did not have any noticeable mistakes. They incorporated a few tricks as well, such as camera flashes that helped make scenes more immersive.
Overall the cast and crew of Episcopal Academy pulled off a beautiful rendition of Inherit the Wind.
THE 39 STEPS at Upper Merion High School
by: Katie Tuberosa
The 39 Steps is a spellbinding show that requires full attention or the audience might
miss a key event in the story. With the constant costume and character changes, it could be easy for the message of the show to be lost but Upper Merion Area High School’s production of The 39 Steps was executed to near perfection.
The 39 Steps is an action-adventure story adapted from the book. Richard Hanney was wrongly accused of the murder of Annabella Schmidt, a spy on a mission to stop the malevolent Professor Jordan. Annabella leaves Richard with the task of stopping The 39 Steps (a group of spies) from stealing British Military Secrets. Richard meets some comical characters, almost gets killed, and falls in love. All of these elements combine to create a humorous, nonstop action show.
Moments into the show, the audience was given a glimpse at Trinity Pike (Mr. Memory) who perfectly portrayed the man who can recall anything. Mr. Memory is a brief, yet prominent role that ties together the show together. The way Trinity delivered her lines with ease showed her dedication to embody this memorable role.
Anna Bobok (Annabella Schmidt/Heavy #1) and Ema Isajiw (Pilot #1/Heavy #2) proved to the audience that they can be in featured roles as part of a hilarious dynamic duo. They played off each other and their energy was contagious. If not for the playbill listing the multiple roles played by the actors, it would be quite difficult to realize that they already played more than one role for they added unique assets to each character they portrayed. Anna’s German accent was authentic, while her Heavy #1’s voice was deep and masculine. As Pilot #1 and Heavy #2, Ema exuded confidence in every move she made. These character actresses brought the comic relief to this performance.
Neil Patel’s (Richard Hanney) stage presence was truly second-to-none. His body language and how he reacted to every single twist and turn helped the audience make sense of this show. Neil is truly the backbone of Upper Merion’s production for the characters played off his confidence and energy.
The singular set piece was cleverly used in several ways. Ayana Devaull’s (the prop master) props were well done and a sight to be seen. The stage crew and their leader, Taylor Mengel, made the scene changes quick and seamless. Overall, the technical aspect of this show was top-notch.
The 39 Steps was a memorable production that left the audience wanting more and demonstrated how Upper Merion’s theater program is a force to be reckoned with.