Students Get South Florida Cappies Awards In Online Gala

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School received the most awards with eight for Imaginary, The Musical.,

By Bill Hirschman

Normally, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of high school students and their families fill the orchestra seats of Broward Center for the Performing Arts one night each year celebrating excellence in theater and criticism with deafening cheers and screams during the Cappies Award Gala.

The COVID-19 virus did not rob that generation of the chance to honor each other’s work. The South Florida Cappies organization mounted a slickly-produced online celebration livestreamed Tuesday night in the 18th annual presentation of the awards.

The production featured pre-taped deliveries of the nominees and announcement of the winners as if the presenters were in the Au-Rene auditorium rather than their living rooms. The list of presenters were an array of current theater, television and film professionals, most of whom had been Cappies participants in the past, even nominees and winners.

“Despite the fact that we were not able to gather together this year, it was important to still take the time to celebrate the hard work and talent of students and teachers in these theater programs,” said Lori Sessions, program director. “We are so thankful to the larger entertainment community who gathered together to support our students this year.”

Over nearly two hours, the production honored scores of students from 17 public and private schools throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School received the most awards with eight for Imaginary, The Musical, making it the most honored musical. With six Cappies wins, Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank was the most honored play.

Students recognized as Senior Critic, Lead Actor in a Play, Lead Actress in a Play, Lead Actor in a Musical, Lead Actress in a Musical and Stage Management and Crew each received a $500 scholarship from Melinda Clarke Berks, former theater director at Boca Raton High School and Boyd Anderson High School and the program manager for South Florida Cappies.

The energy of the night was on display when the program opened with dozens of students singing a rewrite of “One,” the opening number from A Chorus Line, with new lyrics designed for the Cappies by Bill Strauss, a program co-founder and member of the Capitol Steps,

The program was hosted by Jennifer Laudia, a theatre teacher at NSU University School, and Tyler Grimes, managing director at Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts; both are members of the Cappies steering committee

Cappies award winners are determined by votes from the students through a weighted peer review voting process.  Nominations are made by student critics from participating schools that attend productions at rival schools and write reviews, which are then edited by theater educators and published on

2020 Cappies Winners

American Heritage School – 5
Archbishop McCarthy High School – 6
Calvary Christian Academy – 2
Cardinal Gibbons High School – 1
Cooper City High School – 3
Coral Glades High School – 2
Cypress Bay High School – 1
Deerfield Beach High School – 1
JP Taravella High School – 4
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – 8
North Broward Preparatory – 1
NSU University School – 1
Somerset Academy Charter School – 1
South Plantation High School – 3
St. Thomas Aquinas High School – 3
The Sagemont School – 3
West Boca High School – 4

American Heritage School
Sets in a Musical –  Nikolas Serrano
Orchestra –  Oklahoma Pit Orchestra
Featured Actor in a Musical – Jonah Warhaft
Female Vocalist –  Ella Noriega
Comic Actress in a Musical – Adelina Marinello

Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School
The Diary of Anne Frank
Best Play
Stage Management and Crew in a Play – Britni Barcelo
Ensemble in a Play –  Annex Residents
Supporting Actor in a Play – Christopher Muston
Lead Actress in a Play – Erica Gouldthorpe
Lead Actor in a Play – Justin Cook

Calvary Christian Academy
Peter and the Star Catcher
Comic Actress in a Play – Kelly Goenaga
Freshman Critic – Abbey Alder

Cardinal Gibbons High School
Bright Star
Female Dancer – Beatriz Arevalo

Cooper City High School
Bubble Boy
Marketing and Publicity – Troupe 0784 Officers
Lead Actor in a Musical – Reese Abrahamoff
Senior Critic – Rylee Berger

Coral Glades High School
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Sets in a Play – Juliette BeJune, Matthew Dell-Hak
Comic Actor in a Play – Matthew Dell Hak

Cypress Bay High School
Rock of Ages
Male Dancer – Roy De Oliveira

Deerfield Beach High School
Driving Miss Daisy
Hair and Makeup in a Play – Alesia Boles, Alaniss Mendez, Ilene Reyes

J.P. Taravella High School
Supporting Actress in a Musical – Nicole Sugarman
Sophomore Critic – Emma Sugarman
Junior Critic – Nicolas Vela
Critics Team – Nicole Sugarman, Lead Critic

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Imaginary – The Musical
Best Musical
Sound in a Musical –  Alyssa Marrero,
Lighting in a Musical –  Ally Reichard
Choreography – Cameron Appel and Alexandra Duffy,
Creativity –  Jared Block and Andrea Pena, Direction
Stage Management and Crew in a Musical – Jordan Braunstein, Hannah Grinbank and Ava Digilio,
Supporting Actor in a Musical – David Prengler
Song – Upgrade Time

North Broward Preparatory School
City of Angels
Male Vocalist – Luke De Liddo

NSU University School
Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure
Comic Actor in a Musical – Gabriel Feldenkrais

Somerset Academy Charter School
Luna Gale
Supporting Actress in a Play – Victoria Vitale

South Plantation High School
26 Pebbles
Sound in a Play – Quinn Sampson
Props in a Play –  Shaylen Deyo,
Lighting in a Play –  Daley Eisenmann, Hadrian Schrag

St. Thomas Aquinas High School
You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
Hair and Makeup in a Musical – Francesca Zaccor, Keja Staffa, Madison Ryder, Jade Wagner and Crew
Props in a Musical – Deanna Wallace, Mika Petruska, James Lawlor, Brooke Crockett and crew
Costumes in a Musical – Hailey Kelderhouse, Carly Salazar, Konrad Schneider, Anna Liendo and crew

The Sagemont School
The Right to Remain Silent
Costumes in a Play – Eva Daskos
Featured Actress in a Play – Eva Daskos
Featured Actor in a Play – Santiago Murillo,

West Boca High School
Sister Act
Special Effects and/or Technology: Scott Etzi, Liam Kline, Amy Vitagliano,
Ensemble in a Musical –  Queen of Angels Choir
Featured Actress in a Musical –  Melody Burrage
Lead Actress in a Musical – Maya Petrie

The production was supported by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the NSU University School.

Presented included Broadway actor Rob McClure, most recently in Beetlejuice the Musical and poised to open pre-virus in Mrs. Doubtfire; Don Walters, chair of the Cappies as well as the Carbonell Awards; Stephen Buntrock and Erin Dilly; Abby Jaros; Michael Kushner; local professional actresses Kimmi Johnson and Margot Moreland; Randi Kleiner; Kim Grigsby; Jacob Jeffries; Jared Corak; Jan Goodheart of the Broward Center; Matthew Korinko and Patrick Fitzwater, founders of Slow Burn Theatre Company in Fort Lauderdale; Brennan Murray; Jeff Kiltie; Bill Hirschman and Oline Cogdill of Florida Theater On Stage; Jennifer Tepper; Angela Miller; Isaac Polanco, artistic director of Main Street Players in Miami Lakes; Lucas A. Katler; Dana Steingold; Danny George; Nathan Tysen, Broadway actor Jeff Blumenkrantz; James Gray; Matthew Leiner; Jim Athens; Austin Powers; Chelsea Zeno; Mindy Clarke; Meagan Grimley; Emily Afton; Denvor Milnard; Vishal Vaidya; Leanne Antonio; Taylor Anthony Miller; Tammy Holder; Kathryn Allison; Erich Bergen; Marie Eife, Jeremy Leiner and Beth Benge.

Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank was the most honored play.

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