Cappies’ Reviews Of South Florida High School Theater (2015 and Earlier Archive)

cappiesPublishing student reviews of high school theater is the cornerstone of a new service from Florida Theater On Stage and the South Florida Critics and Awards Program, better known as The Cappies.

Now in its 15th year, the Cappies enrolls theatre and journalism students, trains them as critics and assigns them to attend shows at 25 schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The student write reviews under the mentorship of teachers and volunteers.

For more information about the Cappies, visit


Reviews of A Heart Divided at Western High School on Friday, 2/19/2016

By Paige Slowinski of South Plantation High School

capy1-02-25-15-10-29If you’re looking for a play with teen angst, forbidden love, conflict and death, then “A Heart Divided” is the show for you. It was recently performed by Western High School, which did an amazing job capturing the characters’ true feelings and emotions.

“A Heart Divided”, written as a novel by Jeff Gottesfeld and Cherie Bennett, is the story of a liberal-minded girl named Kate, played by Veronica Lempicki, who lives happily with her family in New Jersey and aspires to be a professional playwright someday. All is well until Kate’s father gets offered a job in Redford, Tennessee, a small town with deep southern roots. When Kate starts going to her new school, she is appalled to discover that the school symbol is the confederate flag. However, she soon meets Jackson Redford, played by Bruno Enciso, a third generation good ole boy who is as southern as they get. As they sort through their differences, they fall in love and work together to change the controversial insignia.

Overall, the production had a few flaws, but the entire cast came together to put on a quality show. The actors made a point to highlight both comical and serious areas when necessary, and stayed in full character the entire time. Everyone exhibited high energy and kept the audience on the edge of their seat to find out what would happen next.

The leads in this show were very strong in their physicality while establishing the mood and vibe for the entire show. Lempicki, who was a narrator of sorts throughout the play, did a superb job of keeping scenes from dragging by conveying her every emotion in a believable way. The same can also be said of Enciso, who played the role as a dominant character with a spot-on southern accent.

The supporting cast showed strong commitment and enthusiasm in the portrayal their characters. Special praise goes to Brooke Stanish, who played Sally Redford, the strict southern mother of Jackson, and Santiago Zornosa, who played the antagonistic redneck Jared Boose. Both of these characters shone in their roles and brought a sense of professional realism with them on stage.

The director’s choice of minimal tech categories made for a more natural presentation, which made the audience to feel that they were one with the actors. However, the frequent blackouts and the accidental talking from backstage heard through the microphones were slightly distracting. Even so, the use of the screen center stage was very creative and brought a good visual element when a character was describing a setting.

All in all, “A Heart Divided” is a difficult and emotional show, but Western proved that this feat was not out of their reach. The entire cast and crew is commended for their triumph on this engaging production.

*** *** ***

By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Western High School’s production of A Heart Divided explores whether Lincoln’s famous words hold true for a town.

“A Heart Divided” by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld tells the story of the controversy surrounding the confederate flag in a small southern town. In Redford, Tennessee, the confederate flag is a symbol of honor, of tradition, and the school’s emblem. Told almost exclusively through soliloquies directed toward the audience, this show follows a young playwright, Kate, who moves to Redford from New Jersey and quickly takes the side of the students fighting for a mascot change. When she falls in love with Jackson Redford III, descendent of the town’s founder, she learns some important lessons about how the past can shape the present.

Veronica Lempicki played Kate Pride, the primary narrator of the show who emphasized the more liberal view toward the flag. She remained consistent and high energy throughout the production, delivering her lines with emotion and variation. Alongside her was Bruno Enciso, who played the conservative Jackson Redford III, and whose intention and commitment was present.

Kate’s younger sister, Portia, played by Micaela Mercado, added a comedic, more lighthearted touch to the production. Her stories were filled with humor and were immensely relatable. She was one of the most believable and genuine characters on the stage. The most intense member of the ensemble was Reverend Roberts, played by Austin Le-Forrester. His speeches added history and background to the story, and kept it grounded in its intent. Another notable performance came from Daniela Cardenez, who played Sara, Jackson’s Ex Girlfriend. Her accent was one of the most consistent in the show, and she was able to transition from cheerleading mean girl to sweet southern belle without any trouble.

The costumes of the show set the tone of the show instantly, with the entire cast clad in red, white and blue, the colors of the American (as well as Confederate) flag. The cast worked well together, even without much direct interpersonal interaction, and was able to overcome any technical difficulties they encountered, presenting a well put together show.

In “A Heart Divided”, Western High School’s cast and crew were able to tell a story of separation with remarkable unity.

*** *** ***

By Michael Valladares of Cypress Bay High School

Western High School’s production of “A Heart Divided” brings an incredibly relevant story of clashing cultures to life on the stage. Through a play that emphasizes family values and regional differences, Western exposes new perspectives on an incredibly controversial subject.

“A Heart Divided” tells the story of Kate Pride, a liberal-minded girl from New Jersey, who moves to the southern town of Redford Tennessee. While initially reluctant to accept her country-lovin’ culture, she begins to appreciate her new home when she meets Jackson Redford III, a descendant of the town’s namesake. As their relationship blossoms, a petition to replace the local high school’s Confederate flag insignia gains Kate’s support–and soon Kate and Jack’s families are pitted against each other over the meaning of this poignant symbol.

“A Heart Divided” is not a traditional play as it is presented in a presentational style. Rather than engaging in dialogue to advance the narrative, the actors directly address the audience. This reduces the onstage action, but allows the play to become a debate, which allows the audience to be a judge.

Leading the show is Veronica Lempicki as Kate Pride. Lempicki characterized the shy “new girl,” which lead to believable and consistent storytelling. Opposite her is Bruno Enciso, playing Jackson Redford. Enciso maintained phenomenal consistency with his southern accent and embodied the Southern boy through his relationship with Lempicki. From Kate’s family are Micaela Mercado as Portia Pride, Kate’s sister, and Isabella Cring as Jensen Pride, Kate’s mother. Mercado played the self-proclaimed “weird girl.” She embodied the quirky personality of Portia, and her comedic timing was excellent. Mercado manages to get laughs with simple, understated jokes. Cring was an excellent mother as well, being equal parts: protective and friendly. Cring proved a stark contrast to Jackson’s mother, Sally Redford, played by Brooke Stanish. Stanish was extremely believable and an almost toxic person, which was perfect for the role. Lucy and Nikki Roberts, sisters who were leading the petition against the flag, often had moments that were extremely powerful. Played by Kayla McCall and Elan Lewis, respectively, McCall was able to deliver monologues with a poetic feel that fit with the heavy racial themes of the show. Lewis was understated and realistic, and a boon to the cast. While some actors were disconnected from each other, and interpreted the play differently, Western nonetheless has a powerful cast.

Western’s lighting design, lead by Melody Zapata, was excellent, though it appeared as though actors had to wait for lights occasionally. There were sound issues at times, and, though the projecting of sets onto the stage produced a cool effect, the execution of the projector was not consistent in working.

Western took a risk with such a heavy play, but it was worth it. To shed light on both sides of an issue that envelops the nation still today is not easy. And to play it with an even-handed viewpoint is even harder. Western left audiences with a real question about what does it mean to be American?

*** *** ***

By Isabel Hidalgo of Cooper City High School

Soft, sweet, singing voices full of hope and patriotism in the darkness of a silent theater are the first things that are heard in Western High School’s production of the play, “A Heart Divided.” A moment later, a gunshot rings out, and every actor’s face contorts into a look of horror at the tragedy only those on stage seem to be able to see. Thus begins a show outlining the lives and opinions of those people who live in the small Tennessee town of Redford.

“A Heart Divided” takes place in the present day, when Kate Pride, the lead character, and her family have moved from the NYC suburbs to Redford. At once, Kate is shocked by the way the Confederate flags flies everywhere around the town, including at her own new high school, where the rebel flag is both the school symbol and the football team’s name. Her attention is caught by a petition to change the school’s mascot, but not before she meets an attractive boy that is almost a physical representation of Redford; Jackson Redford III.

Throughout Western High School’s production, many actors and the roles they played shone under the spotlight. Kate Pride, played by Veronica Lempicki, was consistent in her role, reacting genuinely to every action in the play. Several supporting characters, for example, Anne Augustus, played by Milagros Cots, and Nikki Roberts, played by Elan Lewis–were strong in both action and vocal projection throughout the play. Portia Pride, played by Micaela Mercado, played her part with the humor and awkwardness that her role called for, and did so in a way that was authentic and a pleasure to watch.

The Singers, played by Kyra Mejia and Brian Inerfeld, added an intense emotional connection to the play. Their clear, controlled vocals gave the production a patriotic sentiment that could be easily related to and reminded those watching that the conflict of the Confederate flag within the play was real and still ongoing.

Near the end of the play, Kate Pride stands alone in the center of the stage, looking out onto the audience that has heard her heart-wrenching story. With gentle sadness in her voice, she delivers the lines that best summarize this production: “I’ve been thinking about a heart divided – how the heart of Redford was so divided by a flag from a war that ended seven generations ago. The funny thing is, I think it’s okay. It’s the people who only want one opinion – their opinion – who we have to worry about.”

*** *** ***

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Western High dipped its toes in some rather controversial waters with their production of A HEART DIVIDED, a piece which debates the role of the Confederate flag in the American culture. The choice was bold, but the show did more than just rely on the sensitive subject of the source material; it tugged at the heartstrings by examining a how a community struggles to reconcile common passions tainted in red, white, and blue with a past stained in haunting black-and-white.

A HEART DIVIDED is structured in a presentational style, with characters delivering most of their lines directly towards to the audience and operating within an absence of substantial dialogue. It follows the story of a teenage girl named Kate who moves from New Jersey to a small town Tennessee. She soon takes issue with the school’s use of the Confederate flag as an insignia, but simultaneously develops an affection for a boy with deeply-rooted ancestral ties to the town’s culture and heritage.

Veronica Lempicki led a large cast as Kate with a natural performance that often complemented Bruno Enciso’s passionate portrayal of Jackson Redford III, Kate’s love interest. Micaela Mercado, playing Kate’s younger sister, Portia, gave the most committed performance of the production. She brightened the stage with radiance and energy through every line, gesture, and movement. Unlike some actors, who experienced difficulty in finding different levels of expression, Portia created a well-rounded character capable of quirkiness, humor, and poignant emotion in a memorable, yet nuanced performance.

A supporting cast overcame recurring issues with pacing and chemistry by creating a variety of personalities and archetypes that powerfully developed the idea of a communal identity. Austin Le-Forrester gave the most impressive transformation as Reverend Roberts, an African-American leader in the town of Redford; although some performers struggled with portal their adult characters and delivering consistent accents. Reverend Roberts exuded a credible air of authority and mastered the execution of an authentic Southern accent. Actors who similarly delivered solid emotional performances include Elan Lewis as Nikki Roberts, a girl who initiates the movement against the Confederate flag at the school, as well as Kayla McCall as Lucy, another student involved in this campaign.

The set design and the majority of visual elements of the show were approached with minimalism to put emphasis on the performances, but a series of projected videos which gave glimpses of events and settings discussed by the characters added a visual balance to the production. The lightning was consistent with the play’s aesthetics thanks to a simplistic yet functional design, although some actors struggled to keep up with black-out-heavy lighting cues.

A difficult subject matter didn’t prevent Western High School from delivering a commendable performance of A HEART DIVIDED. The cast portrayed the material with maturity thus doing justice to a highly relevant story that holds great social and emotional significance.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Mr Burns, a post-electric play at Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory on Friday, 2/19/2016

By Caden McGhie of North Broward Preparatory School

Burns4medIn a post apocalyptic world where all seems lost, one thing remains to unite the survivors… The Simpsons! In Somerset Academy’s production of “Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play” we see just how funny and unifying an imaginary cartoon world can be.

Written by Anne Washburn, “Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play” takes place shortly after an apocalyptic event. The audience follows a group of survivors as they recount an episode of The Simpsons entitled “Cape Feare.” The same story, characters, and morals from the episode are repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic cultures decades after the destruction of civilization and reworked into… a musical. The Somerset cast also put on a hilarious dumb show, featuring the classic Simpsons characters “Itchy and Scratchy.” The scenes of their dumb show kept the audience laughing every moment.

As the survivors share stories around a fire, we are introduced to Lamont Brantley’s character, Gibson, who completely captivated the audience’s attention with his enthralling personality and his animated physicality. From Brantley’s first entrance, to his comedic ending of the Act One, to his build up and breakdown in Act Two, it’s easy to say he had the entire audience entranced with his emotional investment and grandeur. Although the leads in this cast showed emotional investment and incredible relationships, they were not without error. Diction and projection were an issue that covered up key aspects of the performance.

Jessica Gomez as Quincy brought her sassy and controlling character to the audience’s attention from the time she spoke her first line. Quincy was played powerfully, but Burns in Act Three, played by Gianna Milici, caught the entire audience off guard. Her shocking and malevolent disposition sent shivers down the audiences’ spine with the gripping darkness she sent into the audience. The most honest way to describe Gianna Milici’s role of Burns is Heath Ledger’s Joker reincarnated.

The amazing a cappella harmonies of the ensemble’s spot on vocals made jaws drop to the floor as soon as they walked on stage for the first commercial. The ensemble was completely engaged in every moment. They made us feel hopeful and empowered with their moving melodies in Act Two, and fearful in Act Three with their creepy physique. This remarkable ensemble made the entire ambiance of the show possible.

The technical aspects of this show helped leave a lasting impression. The set accommodated the variety of three different settings and times incredibly for a black box theater. The makeup and costumes captured the emotion of the whole show, but did a remarkable job in Act Three. Three fingered handprints, the faded resemblance of Simpson characteristics in the costumes, and all the other details exemplify the true devotion the crew had to excellence. The glow in the dark paint and makeup lit up the stage and gave a unique 4th dimension to the show.

This show as a whole had ominous energy and great delivery on the darker comedy. Although there were moments of honest intensity, there were moments where a lack of attentiveness from supporting characters took away from the atmosphere. Unfortunately, a recurring lack of diction and projection made key plot points difficult to understand. Luckily, strong cast members with lasting impressions made up for these issues.

The students of Somerset Academy succeeded in leaving a haunting and memorable performance of Mr Burns, a Post Electric Play.

*** *** ***

By Carlo Feliciani of NSU University School

Take your favorite story. Try to retell it with every detail. You will probably forget some parts and make up others. Now imagine retelling the story seven years later as theatre. And now try to envision it 75 years after that, where it morphs into an operatic myth. The Somerset Academy Theatre Factory tackled this task with The Simpsons in Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.

Mr. Burns premiered at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in 2012 and then at the Playwrights Horizons in 2013. Washburn’s concept developed from her thoughts about how pop culture would survive after a nuclear meltdown. Washburn worked with The Civilians theatre company to develop the story by having them try to recount an episode of the Simpsons from memory.

The retelling of the, “Cape Feare,” episode, where Bart is being threatened to death by Sideshow Bob, developed into the dialogue of the first act; six survivors of the apocalypse try to remember the story. Illuminated by candlelight and a fire in a trash can, Gabe Celik, as Matt, Gianina Mugavero, as Jenny, Alexis Gowans, as Maria, and Ryan Fernandez, as Sam, created the atmosphere of this retelling in a broken world. All of the actors worked well together to move through the rollercoaster of emotions, like Gowans, who told a story about buying duct tape that led to a friend’s quest to save the reactors. Even though there were some issues with diction, the actors’ dealt with the gravity of the situation well, adding certain physicality like shifting weight and biting their fingers, especially Celik and Mugavero, to create consistent reactions to the tragedy.

After a new survivor, Gibson, played by Lamont Brantley, joins the group, the story jumps 7 years ahead, where the same group with some additions rehearse as a theatre troupe that retells the stories through the currency of show lines, piecing together episodes with commercials and songs. Brantley commanded the space, either when creating a hysterical rendition of, “Three Little Maids,” or when his character, whose memory fails, believes radiation affected him. The actors shifted in maturity, showing a clear transition in time between the two acts. A medley of chart hits punctuates the rehearsal, performed impressively acapella, with songs that resurface later like Britney Spears’, “Toxic.”

The third act jumps 75 years after the second, morphing the episode into an operetta set on a student designed house boat splashed with neon colors and a mural that was illuminated by black light. The makeup, which included four-fingered fluorescent handprints on the Simpsons family to represent their connection, and costumes, which were like the TV show but morphed into neon inspirations of each character such as Homer’s bald head becoming a bright yellow bandana, complemented the set and tone. Reminiscent of a Greek chorus, the citizens of Springfield sing the story of the Simpsons being captured by Mr. Burns, played by Gianna Milici. Milici’s portrayal as a sadistic and comical clown villain created an atmosphere where you could not take your eyes off her. Although there were some balance issues, the cast’s real vocal power surfaced in the third act, singing in harmony with very little instrumental cues with highlights from Mandy Nikole Figueroa as Bart. The execution of these cues were made by the crew and stage manager Kayla Benedict, who performed with professionalism.

The cast and crew of the Somerset Theatre Factory fully committed to the complex and shifting effects of memory and a nuclear apocalypse, highlighting the power of storytelling as a form of survival and teaching us that, “Every story ends on a dark and raging river…”

*** *** ***
By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

In a post apocalyptic world, all hope for humanity is lost. Food is scarce, there is no power, and trust is nearly nonexistent. However, at Somerset Academy’s “Mr. Burns: a -post electric play”, there is one thing civilization can cling to – faint memories of the dearly beloved show, The Simpsons.

Written by Anne Washburn, Mr. Burns is a dark comedy of what would happen to pop culture in a shattered future. The story begins with a group of survivors trying to recount the popular episode of the Simpsons “Cape Feare” and progresses to the future of 7 and 75 years after trying to keep the story and entertainment alive. The play also interweaves modern day music, done by Michael Friedman, throughout the second and third acts to further elucidate the decline from today’s world.

Lamont Brantley (Gibson) proved to be a dynamic actor throughout his time on stage. Whether he was impersonating the Simpsons, singing “Three Little Maids from School”, or appearing in the show’s featured commercials, Brantley managed to consistently bring light to this dark story. Yet his versatility was enforced when he shifted between comedic and tragic, especially during his character’s breakdown. Alexis Gowans (Maria) and Gianina Mugavero (Jenny) also stood out in their performances. They appeared to be constantly engaged both with their characters and the setting throughout the show, even if other performers didn’t. Their high attention to detail and particular mannerisms they developed made their performance appear authentic and realistic.

Portraying the titular character was Gianna Milici (Mr. Burns), who didn’t come in until the third act. The wait, however, was well worth it. Milici gave a performance reminiscent of the familiar DC Comics villain, The Joker, yet still captured the essence of Mr. Burns himself. While some portrayals in the show felt too dramatic, her over the top delivery of this ominous character was spot on. Another memorable supporting performance came from Gabe Celik (Matt). Celik had fantastic comedic timing that was especially prominent in the second act.

As an ensemble, the cast worked together spectacularly. The chemistry between one another was organic and aided in creating seemingly effortless relationships. The artistic choices of the technical team collaborated with the actors nicely to provide such an intimate atmosphere. The musical aspects of the show were beautiful. The whole ensemble sounded exceptionally pleasing, especially powerhouse vocalist Mandy Nikole Figueroa (Bart). Despite some awkward moments, the play relatively captured the mood no matter if it was comedic, dramatic, or down right sinister.

When all else fails with our world, “Mr. Burns: a post electric play” proved that no matter what happens, the show must go on.

*** *** ***

By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

In a future decimated by nuclear explosions, how can people find comfort in surviving another day? In Somerset Academy’s excellent rendition of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, a simple cartoon episode becomes a moving testament to the power of art in rebuilding society.

Anne Washburn’s dark comedy centers on a group of survivors retelling a Simpsons episode after a global catastrophe and explores how that recollection becomes a developing theater show seven years into the future and a full-length musical in seventy-five. Equal parts humorous and unnerving, the play embraces the nature of story-telling as a way for people to come to terms with their circumstances and their future however grim and hopeless both might seem.

The highlight of Somerset’s production was the believability exuded by each of the actors. Both the initial survivors and the later Simpson family had a very natural chemistry that helped drive home the deeper emotional points the show was trying to convey.

Lamont Brantley (Gibson), a wanderer who stumbles upon the survivors camp, flowed very well from dramatic moments to more comedic ones, such as when he puts on a hilarious performance of “Three Little Maids From School Are We” for the rest of the group. Alexis Gowans (Maria), another survivor, exhibited great physicality and facials, always remaining completely engaged, especially during her emotional monologue describing her meeting with a man at Walmart. Other characters, such as Gabe Celik’s Matt and Marlo Rodriquez’s Colleen were well-defined and engrossing, exhibiting unique traits and perks that truly made them come alive on stage.

The third act musical was as vocally powerful as it was visually, partially due to the mutated and glowing Residents of Springfield. Their voices blended beautifully, especially considering most of the songs were sung a cappella. Bobby Morales (Homer) and Mandy Nikole Figueroa (Bart) also had crisp, clear voices that elevated the numerous musical numbers. Gianna Milici was fantastic as the delightfully twisted Mr. Burns, who cackled with murderous glee as she toyed with the Simpsons family in the final act. While overall projection and diction could have been improved, the actors’ animated facials helped make up for the loss of words.

Makeup and costumes were very effective, contributing to the overall ominous mood. The neon hand-prints which adorned the Simpsons during the final act were reminiscent of radioactive material and the iconic outfits were a bit toned down to match the apocalyptic tone.

Somerset Academy’s Mr. Burns is a complex, dark and humorous look at how stories give humanity meaning through troubled times, reminding them that beyond the darkness there is always light.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Importance of Being Earnest at Saint John Paul II Academy on Saturday, 11/21/2015

By Isabella Cring of Western High School

In the age of Queen Victoria, the men were gentle and the ladies were covered up. The world was prim, proper, and boring. But, that is not the case in the Oscar Wilde play, “The Importance Of Being Earnest.” This farcical comedy satirizes the aristocracy of Victorian England. First performed in London in 1895, the play follows two haughty men who, in order to escape burdensome social interactions, have created entirely separate identities for themselves. Their other personas get them into trouble when they get the women they love involved. Saint John Paul II Academy presents this “Trivial comedy for serious people” with loads of charm, grace, and corsets.

It is often difficult, with a period piece like this, to pull off elaborate sets without seeming tacky or gimmicky. Saint John Paul II’s simple approach made the ambiance tasteful and refined. Scene changes were few and far between, and when they did happen, they were quick and seamless. On-que spotlights and flawless audio execution made the show a smooth one.

The endearingly flawed leading man, Jack Worthing, was played by Charlie Metzger. His physicality and comic timing made him impossible to look away from. His counterpart, Algernon Moncrieff (Nik Ramadan) was a gracious acting partner to anyone he shared the stage with. His chemistry with Metzger was absolutely dazzling and had the audience in stitches. Ramadan also opened the play with a performance on a grand piano that nicely set the tone for the play. Another shining man was Coleton Santacroce in the role of Rev. Canon Chasuble, DD. While his energetic presence wasn’t on stage often, he was by far one of the most memorable characters in the play.

The ladies of the show were nothing short of dynamic. The classic “disapproving mother” character, Lady Bracknell, was played by Audri Harrypersad. Her portrayal of the boisterous woman was hilarious and ever so relatable. Her daughter, Gwendoline Fairfax (Julia Hartmann), was diminutive in her characterization and left the audience (and her love interest) eating out of the palm of her hand. The young beauty, Cecily Cardew (Arleyce Lima), had hilarious timing and delightful chemistry with her fellow actors. Her portrayal of the slightly disturbed teenager was subtle and absolutely engaging.

Saint John Paul II Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” was a captivating piece that captured the outrageousness of Victorian aristocracy. Through antics, misunderstandings, and petticoats, Saint John Paul II Academy taught us that while we don’t always have to be honest, it is of the utmost importance to always be earnest.

*** *** ***

By Marisa Schloneger of Cooper City High School

At some point in a person’s life, they have wished to be someone else. However, what if they actually became that person? In Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” you discover the story about the hilarious charade that is Ernest Worthing.

Written by Oscar Wilde in 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” was written to be a farcical comedy. It follows the stories of two men who are trying to escape their personas due to the distresses of social responsibilities. In the play, the old Victorian lifestyle is proven to have a few burdens carried along with it, such as social status and love and marriage, but are told with a comical twist.

Jack Worthing (Charlie Metzger) is a young man with a bit of a secret; he goes by the name, “Ernest.” Although it may seem like a small fault, when he proposes to his love Gwendoline (Julia Hartmann), she admits that most of her excitement comes from the fact that she’s marrying a man named, “Ernest.” After multiple failed attempts of getting her to say that she’d marry a man with a different name, he gives in to the idea of getting secretly rechristened, “Ernest”. Meanwhile, Jack’s good friend, Algernon (Nik Ramadan), pays a visit to Jack’s young ward Cecily (Arleyce Lima). He decides to use his friend’s tactic and introduce himself as Ernest. Soon after falling in love, Algernon proposes and finds himself to be in the same predicament as his dear friend Jack. Ironically, like Gwendoline, Cecily too adores the name Ernest and is adamant that she marry a man with that name.

Both Metzger and Ramadan were incredible with their high energy and animated comedy. When the two had scenes together, or even alone, they brought life to the stage. Lima captured her character extremely well, and delivered her lines in a very subtle but comedic way. While there were a few characters that may have lacked expression, all together there was a scarcity of dull moments.

Other characters such as Lady Bracknell (Audri Harrypersad), Miss Prism (Jaelyne Vigoa), and Reverend Canon Chasuble (Coleton Santacroce) were truly captivating and pulled the production together. Whether it was an extravagantly ridiculous costume or a humorous biblical reference, each of them was entertaining in their own special way and were truly attention grabbing.

Each set was very different from the other, but very effective. It made you feel as if you were actually in the scenes with the characters. Although there was minimal lighting, it was just enough to justify the play and the sound was very clear.

In the end, as all truths came out, the declaration that being yourself is what will make you prevail became present. Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” was truthfully a must see performance. And that’s the importance of being earnest!

*** **** ****

By Matthew Bonachea of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

First performed at the Saint James’ Theatre in London in 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” is a comedic play by Oscar Wilde that takes much professionalism and dedication to perform in modern times. Saint John Paul II Academy was quite determined to pay close attention to the detail of the time period, and deliver the story in a comedic manner.

The play is comprised of three acts that unfold an interesting story of romance, while invoking laughter from the audience. The story begins with playful bickering between friends Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff over a simple cigarette case. When Jack explains how he sometimes goes by the name Ernest, the witty Algernon cannot help himself but investigate the origins of the alias.

Nik Ramadan played the hilariously sassy role of Algernon Moncrieff, and provided the majority of the comedy in the show. Line after line, he brought his own talent and interpretation of the text into the show and made it all the more interesting. When spoken to by his aunt, Lady Bracknell (played by Audri Harrypersad), he exhibited a sense of respect that showed his talent through his ability to give his character a strong range of emotion.

Algernon’s butler, Lane (played by Blake Earl), complemented the other characters in the show with his dull, and somewhat depressing, character. He brought much needed comic relief into some of the duller moments and did so in a very natural way. Reverend Canon Chasuble, DD (played by Coleton Santacroce) helped turn dramatic moments in the second and third acts into comedic ones with his large and exaggerated movements and lines.

Publicity and Marketing Director Jaelyne Vigoa showed a strong attention to detail when she used an actual photo of the actors who played Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff to design the program and ticket. The production was executed flawlessly by the production staff.

In staying true to the time period, accents are essential. However, some characters showed some difficulty with the dialect and could have used more development and training. Inconsistencies with the accent was, at times, distracting, but did not detract from the overall quality of the show. Some of the characters were not as developed as others, and a few were somewhat lackluster and did not add anything to the quality of the show.

Being a very difficult show to produce in high school, Saint John Paul II Academy had a hard task at hand, and tackled it with ease.

*** *** ***

By Mandy Figueroa of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a farcical comedy in which the two protagonists, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, obtain fictitious identities in order to avoid certain social obligations. Written by Oscar Wilde and first performed in 1895, this Victorian London based play follows a series of ironic situations caused by these satirical characters resulting in a comedic performance from a flurry of actors.

Saint John Paul ll Academy’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” had a variety of contributing and mediocre elements. Although beautiful and well arranged, the set started out mildly inconsistent and incoherent. However, as the play went on, the sets became more and more expertly crafted, and by the third act we were immersed in a Victorian household. These sets were transported by an efficient stage crew that made good use of their time and were hardly noticed. Each actor for the majority of the show was followed by a spotlight that was at times slightly distracting, but mostly well managed and attentive to the movement on stage. The costumes in this production seemed to display a significant amount of color psychology between characters, and didn’t fail to match to piece accurately. The logo for this production was impressively student-done, and features the actual, digitally-fixed profiles of the actors who played our two protagonists.

The cast of this production had varying levels of character development and energy. The two lead actors, Charlie Metzger and Nik Ramadan, who play Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, respectively, displayed a high contrast to one another. This contrast in character was the main source of comedy in this farce, and they managed to grab the attention of the audience separately and collaboratively. While both pretending to be the same person at differing times, their face-offs never failed to produce a roar of laughter, and the talent emitting from these two was clear.

Arleyce Lima, who portrayed Jack’s young and slightly crazed niece, Cecily Cardew, made acting choices that provided a huge comedic reaction. She played these moments in an original and serious way, which made her entire situation even more humorous and authentic. Coleton Santacroce, who played the eccentric Reverend Canon Chasuble, D.D. stood out in his performance with big gestures and creative reactions. Lady Bracknell, an overbearing aunt, portrayed by Audri Harrypersad, managed to create an antagonistic figure in a skillful way. Lady Bracknell’s daughter, the lovely Gwendoline Fairfax, played by Julia Hartmann, displayed a wonderful chemistry and hilarious tension with Cecily Cardew when on stage together. Although not every actor displayed a full energy-leveled performance, the majority of the show allowed the characters to build and manifest.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” at Saint John Paul ll Academy mostly captured the farcical comedy it was meant to produce. The acting and technical aspects of this production were coherent and well-displayed, and resulted in an enjoyable performance from a variety of actors. It was a pleasure to get to discover, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

*** *** ***

By Savannah Zona of Boca Raton High School

Muffins were flinging, and humor was abounding at Saint John Paul II Academy’s rendition of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Balancing the 19th century’s absurd notions about marriage with its insistence for such a commitment, this production captured the comedic sincerity of the classic farce, and showed that “the very essence of romance is uncertainty.”

First performed in London in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a story of irony and deception. Wilde satirizes the ludicrous ideals that surround the institution of marriage in Victorian England with a brilliant use of comical deception. Two friends (John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff) are engaged to be married, however, they have assumed a common false name in order to win the affection of their beloveds. Each man goes by the name of John’s nonexistent brother Ernest. Each of their fiancés have their heart set on marrying a man with said name and feel as though they would not love the men if their names were not so. Therefore, being that both men are identified under the same name, when the fiancés Cecily and Gwendoline meet, they believe that they are engaged to the same person. As the men try to regain the approval of the women, they discover the true importance of being earnest.

In its entirety, the show was packed with splendid comedic timing and honorable technical elements. Many cast members infused their characters with a sort of genuine realism that enhanced pertinent moments within the show. Though frantic at times, the technicians were overall competent in their stage duties. The crew was diligent in transforming the stage between scenes, and was successful in creating a subtle ambiance of the Victorian age through the hues of light that illuminated the stage.

Admirably, the crew paid special attention to detail. Many implements were wonderfully thought out. For example, the show’s merchandise was a design containing two silhouettes of actors from the production. Also notable were the color themes developed in the costumes of John and Algernon. Algernon wore red during Act I, and his counterpart John wore simple beige. In Act II, when Algernon assumed the name of Ernest (the identity which John was already assuming) he wore a beige suit with red pin stripes, which enhanced the combination of his own character with that of the new found identity he now shared with John.

Nik Ramadan as Algernon fully committed to his role. Whether he was munching on muffins or professing his affection for his dearest Cecily, Ramadan commanded the stage with his spot on comedic timing, effortless naturalism, and confident demeanor. Helping to develop a dynamic chemistry with Algernon was Charlie Metzger as Jack Worthing. While some actors in the show were inconsistent with their complexity, Metzger and Ramadan led the hilarity with their vivacious range of inflections and emotional commitment.

Wilde said: “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Well, the cast and crew of “The Importance of Being Earnest” performed with a memorable essence of style, and being that “memory is the diary that we all carry about with us,” Saint John Paul II Academy’s production will surely be written in its audience’s mental diary for years to come.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Crucible at Archbishop McCarthy High School on 11/22/2015

By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

Everyone is in league with the devil and no one is safe from persecution in Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School’s production of The Crucible.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller centers around the Witch trials of the 1690s in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. When Betty Parris, the minister’s daughter, suddenly falls ill with a mysterious affliction, the town looks to orphan Abigail Williams, who claims that witchcraft is the source. With suspicions running high and accusations flying about, the members of the town turn on each other, using this religious persecution as a way to settle perceived wrongs, especially the devious Abigail, who wants to get her former lover’s, John Proctor, wife out of the way so she can have him all to herself.

The lecherous but righteous John Proctor was played by Matthew Salas. Salas had consistently high energy throughout the production and commanded the scenes he was in with his projection. Though he kept the intensity high for the majority of the show, the scenes with his wife, Elizabeth, were calm and believable. The two truly connected, and their interactions created a strong foundation for the difficulties surrounding them. Elizabeth was played by Brianna Eljaua with poise and composure, every inch the good Christian woman. She was calm and collected, with careful delivery and a quiet strength, serving as an excellent foil to the bombastic John.

Similarly calm in the face of all the energy and suspicion was Reverend John Hale, played by Kevin Fitzpatrick. He stayed sensible and coolheaded for the majority of the show, but showed growth as the weight of what he was involved in settled on him. Deputy Governor Danforth, the judge in the trials, had a gravity about him, able to control a scene even when he was speaking quietly. Rebecca Correa played the nervous Mary Warren, one of the girls accusing people of witchcraft, consistently and convincingly, staying active in the back of every scene and portraying believable character growth and decisions.

The rest of the girls were similarly reactive in the courtroom possession scene. The whole cast maintained a very high level of energy throughout the show. Everyone reacted to the action and stayed invested in every scene.

Lighting and sound effects added a significant level to this production thanks to stage manager Christine Fanchini. Makeup, by Bonnie Lynch, and costumes helped set the stage in the 1600s, and were well and subtly done.

This production of The Crucible did a good job of portraying the themes of this iconic play: truth, lies, death, trust, suspicion, and, most importantly, forgiveness.

*** *** ***

By Isabel Hidalgo of Cooper City High School

The word ‘crucible’ can be defined as, ‘a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions’. With this definition in mind, it is easy to see why there is so much spiritual strife and impassioned anguish that permeates Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of the well known play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Though the setting of the play is in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692, the work was originally written in 1953 as an allegory toward the McCarthyism — a campaign against people thought to be associated with communism — that raged throughout the United States at the time of its creation. Throughout this play, the many characters must deal with various fateful decisions; they must choose between keeping their pride or their lives, being honest or lying to save their lives, and they must choose whether to fight and die for their beliefs or keep what they feel hidden.

When a group of Puritan girls are discovered comitting a grave sin–dancing in the middle of the night in the forest–the consequences of their actions end up involving the entire village of Salem as they blame their midnight escapades on witchcraft. Abigail Williams, played by Bella Miulescu, leads the group of girls as they begin accusing and trying the many women and even some men of the village with the serious charge witchcraft and wizardry. Miulescu’s physical and emotional intensity, as well as her commitment to her character throughout the production made for an interesting, albeit malicious role that left the room silent in her wake.

John Proctor, played by Mathew Salas, and his wife Elizabeth, played by Brianna Eljaua, are the opposing factors to Abigail and her posse and pay dearly for it throughout the play. As unfortunate event after unfortunate event pile upon them, the two once estranged individuals become closer and in the end, both feel a rekindling of the love they once felt fervidly for each other. Salas carried his character’s poetic lines and actions out with a power and dignity typical of his prideful character. Eljaua was phenomenal as Elizabeth Proctor, reacting and immersing herself deeply into every scene she appeared in. Every action and emotion that crossed Eljaua’s face was completely genuine. It was refreshing to see her calm, strongly sentimental behavior amongst the general intensity of every other character.

The cast and crew, led by stage manager Christine Fanchini, which had limited space to operate in, did a commendable job in transitioning scenes efficiently. In the makeup department, Bonnie Lynch did a detailed, wonderful job in transforming students for their individual roles.

Archbishop McCarthy’s production of The Crucible is a powerful, profound work that no one will be able to blink from their minds anytime soon.

*** *** ***

By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

In a world of petulant priests, would-be witches, and terror-filled trials, one man must choose between his life and his good name. The students of Archbishop McCarthy High School showed just how heart breaking a choice like this can be during their production of The Crucible.

Written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, The Crucible takes place in 1692 Salem and shows the disastrous outcome of mixing a legal system with a belief system. Often viewed as a protest play, The Crucible was written as an allegorical response to McCarthyism and features a group of young girls accusing other townspeople of witchcraft in order to serve their own motives. The story centers on John Proctor, husband of one of the accused, and his struggle to maintain his integrity while attempting to prevent the execution of innocents.

Matthew Salas played the honest yet flawed farmer John Proctor. Salas portrayed the leading man with gusto and had no trouble adding steadfast intensity to his line delivery and physicality. Also, Salas displayed a dynamic chemistry with both his ex-lover, Abigail, and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Proctor, played by Brianna Eljaua, offered an appealing contrast to her husband with her calming presence, even when she herself was being accused of witchcraft. Eljaua had a masterful understanding of her character arc, which gave Elizabeth a degree of believability usually unattainable for a high school student.

Deputy Governor Danforth, played by Nicholas Palazzo, had a stern and powerful stage presence that added tension and gravity to any scene he was in. Often opposing Danforth in court, Reverend Hale was thoughtfully played by the talented Kevin Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick’s command of both dialogue and moments of silence aided in Hale’s transformation from a pious priest to a broken non-believer. In addition, Rebecca Correa’s portrayal of Mary Warren was equally empathetic and eerie, which was evident in her consistent physicality and reactions.

Looking at tech, the set worked perfectly to accommodate a large cast and display four different settings in a black box theater with minimal transition time. Transitions and technical cues were executed quickly and quietly under the command of stage manager Christine Fanchini.

The show as a whole had high energy from start to finish-no easy task for such a long play. However, there were moments when excessive yelling detracted from the importance of a scene, but the discipline and focus of the talented cast was clear throughout.

The students of Archbishop McCarthy High School succeeded in providing a haunting and memorable performance of The Crucible.

*** *** ***

By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

“The Crucible,” written by Arthur Miller, shares a heart-wrenching tale of the lives that were lost to the cruelties of the Salem Witch Trials. This drama became a classic American piece after winning the Tony Award for Best Play in 1953 on Broadway. Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School delivered this production with a clear grasp on what it meant to live in a time where the accused were blacklisted and it was safer to confess a lie than to hold on to your known truth.

Matthew Salas, as John Proctor, brought a high level of intensity to the stage as he changed demeanor before the relentless magistrate, his wife Elizabeth Proctor (Brianna Eljaua), and his mistress Abigail Williams (Bella Miulescu). Eljaua and Salas created beautiful pictures on the black box theater stage as they embraced one another in the face of death. Eljaua provided much appreciated levels to the piece as a poised yet tortured woman. Miulescu could not have been more convincing of her possessed state and manipulative mind as she dove to the ground, cried for salvation, and accused more than half the town of witchcraft. Her only care for another was shown through her passionate pleading for Proctor’s hand in her persistent battle to make him hers.

Playing the role of the formidable antagonist Deputy Governor Danforth, Nicholas Palazzo contributed a powerful presence to the stage while delivering a high level of maturity and command over the court through his characterization. Similarly, Kevin Fitzpatrick as Reverend John Hale conveyed a fully developed character which experienced both a dedication to the court and a fearful guilt and regret for those who were hung.

Tituba, Abigail’s first victim, was played by Marisabel Correa who mimicked the shrilling screams of the possessed children and helpless cries of the doomed elder women as she longed for Barbados and to be free of accusations. Some actors lost their way in diction and volume as we heard more paralleled yells than levels in a few scenes. However, others found a great place to rest while still showcasing their talents. Alexandria Palazzo, as Mrs. Ann Putnam, communicated her hurt and angst from losing seven children as she begged the consideration of witchcraft upon Betty Parris, played by Katie Diaz, who shook and claimed to fly under demonic control alongside Abigail.

The three hour long production was engaging, eye-opening, and profound. By the final scene, the urgency and reality of the corruption between church and state was remarkably vivid to the characters on stage as they plead for one more chance at life and sanity within the magistrate.

*** *** ***

By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella HS

Archbishop McCarthy High School provided a powerful afternoon of drama at the theatre: recounting Arthur Miller’s renowned and controversial play, The Crucible and reminding the audience why this piece is a staple of the American theatre repertoire.

Written in 1953, The Crucible received largely mixed reviews and surprisingly went on to win the Tony award for “Best Play”. Risking his own life and career, Miller was blacklisted by the US government during the McCarthy era when he wrote The Crucible as an allegory for the incredulous accusations of Communism that were taking place in America. The play takes place in the late 17th century during the horrific Salem Witch Trials, when the church governed the law of the land. The righteous yet deeply flawed John Proctor, is put to the test when his ex-mistress, the young and seductive Abigail Williams, accuses his wife of the highest treason of all – witchcraft. This little black lie soon spirals out of control, ensuing mass chaos throughout the New England town.

Overall, the play was superior with an admirable cast beautifully delivering Miller’s poetic language and embodying the play’s strong moral messages. The intense emotional commitment was evident in every actor. The production swept the audience back in time, effortlessly capturing the bleak period it was set in.

Matthew Salas, who starred as the authoritative John Proctor, gave a commanding performance, utilizing superb realistic choices. Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, portrayed by Brianna Eljaua displayed many deep emotional levels. Her vocal quality and diction were outstanding. The chemistry between Salas and Ejaua was electric and the naturalistic elegance between the two provided a lovely hint of romance.

The devilish Abigail Williams depicted by Bella Miulescu gave a chilling performance with exceptional energy. Her use of imagery, specifically when she saw these “supposed” spirits, was both eerie and magnetic. Kevin Fitzpatrick playing the agreeable Reverend John Hale attributed to the show immensely with his delightful presence. Other standouts were Liam Mihoulides as Judge Hathorne and Marisabel Correa as Tituba.

Tech-wise, the show was perfect; from the lavishly detailed set to the thrilling, exquisite lighting, seamlessly transitioning from shades of navy blue to luscious and dramatic shades of rouge during the climactic moments of the play. The music, orchestrated live, underscored every scene adding, a subtle, yet unnerving tone to the piece. Stage management, run by Christine Fanchini, was exceptional, as cues were never missed.

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s haunting production of The Crucible was majestic, prompting the audience to reflect upon their own conscience, and ponder about the importance of loyalty, love, and the ultimate lesson: to always speak the truth.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Singin’ In The Rain at South Plantation High School on 11/21/2015

By Thomas Neira of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

When half of Hollywood’s most loved couple is in love with an aspiring actor, and the leading lady has the most obnoxious voice you could imagine, hilarity is bound to ensue. South Plantation High School’s cast and crew proved that they know how to “Make Em’ Laugh” in their delightful rendition of “Singin’ In the Rain”!

Adapted from the 1952 movie of the same name, the timeless musical follows the story of Hollywood’s most loved couple as they transition from silent film to talking pictures. With book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and lyrics by Arthur Freed, “Singin’ In the Rain” explores the not-so-fabulous life of Hollywood’s silent actors in a whirl of keeping up appearances and being trapped by contracts.

South Plantation High School uniquely blended sign language into their performance in to transforming their production into Theater for the Deaf. The cast approached this task with maturity utilizing an ensemble of interpreters who demonstrated their dedication by not only assuming the character’s speech, but also emotion.

At the head of the production was the talented Jermarcus Riggins as Don Lockwood. Riggins maintained a commanding stage presence and astounded the audience with his rich vocals and impressive tap dance. Even while perfectly executing the challenging choreography, he always maintained his character’s emotion. Playing Lockwood’s best friend, Cosmo Brown, Jesse Castellanos shone with his unflagging energy, maintaining his character’s over-the-top humor and nature throughout the entire show. Castellanos admirably embodied his character’s personality, which was well complemented by his exceptional comedic timing and musicality. Tajah Lee (Kathy Selden) stole both the audience and Lockwood’s heart with her remarkable vocal ability and poise. Lee’s confidence and emotional flexibility allowed her to comfortably portray her character as she falls in love with Lockwood, but maintains her dignity. Other notable performances included Hannah Singer (Lina Lamont), Adam Ortega (R.F. Simpson), and Wayde Boswell (Production Singer). Singer largely added to the comical element, staying true to her character’s superficial nature and maintaining her character’s infamous voice. Boswell was a standout in the ensemble for his incredible performance of “Beautiful Girls”.

Although the actors were sometimes left in the dark, the lighting design was commendable, skillfully incorporating different techniques like colored spotlights to add to the mood and energy of the show. The costumes were fitting of the time period and exhibited the glamorous lifestyle of Hollywood’s rich and famous.

It’s true you can’t believe everything you read in the magazines, but judging by the upbeat musical numbers, superb tap dancing, and delightful fusion of American Sign Language, it’s safe to say that South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In the Rain” was a great success.

*** *** ***

By Kimberly Moatamedi of NSU University School

Lights, Camera, Action! South Plantation High School presents a Monumental Pictures production of “Singin’ In The Rain.” With colorful costumes, elaborate dance numbers, and even talking pictures, the scene is set for a mesmerizing production.

Based on the 1952 movie, “Singin’ In The Rain” is set in the 1920’s and focuses around the story of the successful silent movie actor Don Lockwood and his struggle with his egotistic leading lady Lina Lamont. After a movie entitled The Jazz Singer becomes a huge success as the first talking movie, R.F. Simpson, the producer of Monumental Pictures, is forced to make the first musical talking movie within six weeks. Aside from the production, Don Lockwood meets a talented woman named Kathy Selden, and a love story unravels. With lyrics by Arthur Freed, and music by Nacio Herb Brown, “Singin’ In The Rain” had 367 performances on Broadway in 1985 and was nominated for the Tony categories of Best Book of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1986.

Showing remarkable chemistry through romantic eye contact and passionate kisses, Jermarcus Riggins and Tajah Lee played the roles of the soul mates Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden. Lee portrayed her character’s strong personality and determination for her career while still demonstrating innocence in her relationship with Lockwood. Riggins displayed constant enthusiasm despite complex tap dances and even falling rain on the stage. Playing Lockwood’s sidekick and best friend Cosmo Brown was Jesse Castellanos. Remaining entertaining and hilarious throughout the entire production, Castellanos shined the most during his sensational song “Make Em’ Laugh”. He ensured that the hilarity never ceased when he was on stage with incredible comedic timing and humorous physicality.

During the entire show, the ASL interpreters including Jacob Altman, Christiane Lockerd, and Tenny-Ann Dandy, were constantly in character regardless of the character that they were translating for. Though none of them had any spoken lines or much stage movement, their consistent enthusiasm and involvement in the story was beyond impressive.

The costumes were student designed, gorgeous, and very character appropriate. The student-made sets and props were reflecting the period and were clearly carefully designed for the scene and where it took place. In the song “Singin’ In The Rain”, the stable light post had the durability to hold up as Riggins danced on it. The set behind him stayed together despite the water pouring down on it. The stage crew did a sufficient job as they constantly moved large set pieces around with ease.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In The Rain” presented limitless energy without straying from the 1920’s ambience. The show left the audience wanting to tap away and sing in the storm developing outside. The heartwarming and humorous show was not a disappointment.

And cut! That’s a wrap.

*** *** ***

By Carlo Feliciani of NSU University School

Lights…camera…tap dance! The classic movie era is back in South Plantation High School’s energetic and hysterical spectacle, “Singin’ in the Rain,” based on the 1952 movie starring Gene Kelly.

The songs, the jokes, and the dances are all there in the Hollywood story about the filming of the silent movie “The Dueling Cavalier,” starring Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, guaranteed to be a hit-until the first “talkie,” movie causes a sensation. The movie business is changed forever, forcing the movie to become “The Dancing Cavalier,” a musical extravaganza. There’s only one problem: the leading Lina has a not-so-pleasant voice. Out of Lot 5 comes Kathy Selden, a singer and actress who can save the picture and wins the heart of Don. When Lina suspects something is up and the movie gets closer to its release, hilarity ensues.

The overall cast brought an exciting energy throughout the show that was consistent, especially during numbers like “Broadway Melody,” in which the cast came on stage to tap and sing together. Although there were some issues with tonality, the cast made up for it through their commitment to the time period, an example being the viewing of the movies, which were filmed by the cast, where cast members in the audience hackled at the screen.

Jermarcus Riggins as Don Lockwood had a professional-level comfort on stage that was mixed with his exceptional dancing and vocals throughout his songs, such as the recognizable, “Singin’ in the Rain.” His chemistry with Tajah Lee as Kathy Selden made it a romance to fight for throughout the story, culminating in the touching reprise of, “You Are My Lucky Star,” as Don sang to Kathy as she walked down the aisle into his arms.

A definite highlight of the night was Jesse Castellanos as Cosmo Brown, with comedy and slapstick galore. Castellanos’s physicality, with no limitations, connected with the comedic heartbeat through accurate timing of jokes and facial reactions, keeping consistency throughout. His duet with Mr. Riggins, “Moses Supposes,” with precise tap dancing and comedic interjections with the Male Diction Teacher, played by Lucas Doytier, created a special moment on stage, and the classic, “Make Em Laugh,” was true to its name.

Most of the technical elements of the production were student created or driven, such as lighting, sound, and costumes. Although there were some inconsistencies with lighting, the energetic and colorful decisions did add the extravagant element to the production. The sets keep the consistency of a movie set with the perfect mix between artifice and reality.

An important element of the South Plantation production were the American Sign Language Interpreters. By being the only high school in Broward County that offers programs for the hard of hearing, the school makes it a priority to make the arts accessible to all audiences. The interpreters, dressed in costume, kept a connection to the story through active signing in connection with the emotion of the lines.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain” created an infectious and extravagant night of tap dancing and classic moments, while also creating a poignant message about the need to make theatre accessible to everyone in the ever-changing world, so that we can all make ’em laugh and sing in the rain.

*** *** ***

By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

It’s a world of black and white reels, silent film star romances, and red carpet premieres at the Chinese theater, but when the first “talkie” is released, every film crew in town is sent back to the drawing board, knee-deep in records. “Singin’ in the Rain,” written and composed by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Nacio Herb Brown, and Arthur Freed, was based on the 1952 film of the same name and opened on Broadway for the first time in 1985. The typical performance of this show comes complete with raincoats, umbrellas, tap shoes, and an on-stage rain shower.

South Plantation High School’s production showed comedic mastery, dazzling special effects, and took us behind the scenes of a movie set to experience the filming of Lockwood and Lamont’s first talking picture. Unique to South Plantation High School, they also incorporated American Sign Language into the production which added another layer of magic as the numerous interpreters portrayed their characters alongside the traditional actors.

At the center of the story, Jermarcus Riggins charmed his audience as Don Lockwood, the leading man in silent films. A foil to his brusque and shrill voiced co-star Lina Lamont, played by Hannah Singer, Riggins shared his velvety voice in the heart-felt Act 1 finale “Singin’ in the Rain” where he not only sang, but danced under the on-stage rain shower. Singer was pure comedy every time she came onstage showcasing Lamont’s diva personality and unique articulation every time she spat the words “What do you think I am, dumb or something?”

Jesse Castellanos found his niche as Cosmo Brown, Don Lockwood’s best friend, executing his role with eye-catching stage presence, engaging physicality, and spot-on humor. He lit up the stage in his number “Make ‘Em Laugh” where humored the audience with classic comedy bits, pouncing on and off film equipment, props, and set pieces.

The constant film set chaos was beautifully balanced with Riggins’ and Tajah Lee’s, Kathy Seldon, love affair. Lee played the role of Kathy with much poise, capturing her defensive nature, dulcet voice, and dramatized romance between herself and Riggins. Also a release from the frantic we’re-making-a-movie tempo of the show, the pre-shot screenings of the films were enjoyable to watch projected in full black and white and classic silent film format.

The ensemble had various standout groups and featured actors such as the Assistant Directors (Keshawn Louis, Jalu Rachel, and Dwayne Reed), who’s sharp rule-of-threes comedy broke the audience into smiles. While some actors, however, had trouble with diction, the on-stage interpreters showed personality and professionalism as they told the story through another lens.

South Plantation High School’s production of “Singin’ In the Rain” captured Hollywood madness and manipulation at its finest and had stand-out actors that brought the show to life.

*** *** ***

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

South Plantation enjoyed quite the spectacular forecast with its latest theatrical endeavor: a radiant sunshower of charming romances, irresistible slapstick humor, and rousing tap numbers all delivered with 1920s vivacity in this spirited production of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN!

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is a theatrical adaptation of the classic 1952 musical comedy film of the same name; the stage production first premiered in the West End in 1983 before making its Broadway debut in 1985. Both the film and stage musical depict Hollywood’s transition from silent films to sound films in the 1920s; the story centers on Don Lockwood, a silent film star whose equally successful leading lady Lina Lamont is discovered to possess a comically unfortunate speaking voice that may not be a fit for a new era of “talking” motion pictures.

The driving force behind the production was the entire cast’s unswerving energy throughout the entirety of an incredibly intense and fast-paced show. Despite sometimes suffering from unrefined vocals, the ensemble was always animated and in character, and extensive tap-numbers never lost their excitement and vibrancy. Sign-language interpreters were integrated into the context and atmosphere of the production, thus adding an extra layer of spirit and uniqueness to the show. Jermarcus Riggins exhibited on-stage comfort and charisma as Don Lockwood, the show’s protagonist. He boasted excellent vocals and fantastic tapping ability, all of which led to a consistently refreshing command of the stage. Opposite Riggins was Tajah Lee as Kathy Seldon, a chorus girl who steps in to provide the voice for Lina Lamont’s performance. Lee fit in nicely into the 1920s atmosphere, and her refined vocals provided tender, down-to earth moments that balanced out the hyper-energetic pace of the s

Jesse Castellanos displayed comedic brilliance in his portrayal of Cosmo, Don’s best friend. Castellanos’s dedication to the role was palpable in his sleek execution of over-the-top, slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humor, but he simultaneously exuded a natural charm and stage presence that ultimately made the performance an audience favorite. Hannah Singer also provided moments of laugh-out-loud absurdity as the eccentric Lina Lamont thanks to a clear understanding of the show’s campy style of humor, as did Lucas Doytier as the Male Diction Teacher, who made a resonating impression despite a short stage time due to a hilariously quirky and cartoonish character interpretation. Unlike Castellanos, Singer, and Doytier, some actors lacked enunciation and projection in their line delivery, which interfered with the clarity of the plot. Others struggled in building multi-dimensional characterizations, and sometimes developed unconvincing chemistry between one another.

South Plantation’s set was enormous in scope and was vibrantly dressed by dazzling props and period costumes. The lighting design was dynamic and playful, and the creative inclusion of student-filmed black-and-white movie excerpts provided memorable humorous segments to the production.

The resilience of an energetic cast in the face of a rigorously demanding show won over both fans of the classic movie and newcomers. South Plantation was beltin’, tappin’, and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN – and audience was laughin’, applaudin’, and lovin’ every second of it.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Wiz at Dillard Center for the Arts on 11/14/2015

By Paul Levine of NSU University School

According to The Wiz, the goal in life is to achieve “power, prestige, and money.” However, Dillard Center for the Arts paints a different picture – the journey of a ragtag group of four which yearns for something more.

Based on the age-old tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, “The Wiz” tells the story of a girl named Dorothy and her quest to find home. After being dropped off in a mysterious realm, she befriends a Scarecrow, a Tinman, and a Lion, respectively. All trek to the wish-giving wizard to get what they desire, but the wizard has one demand; they need to kill Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West. Originally premiering at the Majestic Theatre in 1975, the production ran for 1,672 performances and garnered seven Tony awards, including Best Musical.

Leading the show was Paris Webster playing the strong and friendly, yet confused Dorothy. Webster’s consistent energy and bold stage presence carried the show from start to finish. The ingénue showcased her melodic voice in songs such as, “As Soon As I Get Home.” Davion Jones, as Lion, never failed to deliver laughs throughout the night. From his show stopping entrance in, “Mean Ole Lion,” to his drug-induced fantasy in “Lion’s Dream,” Jones unique charisma and boisterous intonation captured the soul-singing motif of the show.

Jantanies Thomas, as Aunt Em, embodied the loving themes of the show with her caring and soothing nature. She showcased the rare sight of an actor making a marked impression with little stage time. Portraying the antagonist, Evilene, Imani Brown was able to pull comedy from her lines and executed her role well. She showcased her raspy, yet powerful voice in, “No Bad News.” Opposite of Brown was Lackrishan Campbell, who arrived in style to play her popular sister, Addapearle. Campbell was an audience favorite with her swank, humorous character.

From the eleven ensembles in the show, two stood out: the Poppies and the Monkeys. Unlike other ensembles, both radiated energy and characterization. Both also worked well as a whole, playing off each other and reacting accordingly to what was going on in the scene.

Although the orchestra sometimes overpowered the actors, they played the jazzy, R&B music with finesse. Even with a large cast and many ensembles, costumes were impressively executed, as was makeup. The overhead projector was used very efficiently. It not only set the scene by projecting different backgrounds onto a backdrop, but also added funky animation to sense the beat of a song.

Come, “ease on down the road,” to Dillard Center for the Arts to catch a heartfelt performance of The Wiz. You are going to want to see “a whole lot of wiz-ness business”!

*** *** ***

By Michelle Malove of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Ease on down the road with Dillard High School’s cast of “The Wiz” as the Lion, Tinman, Scarecrow, and Dorothy take you on a journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch of the West!

Based on L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown created “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz'” in the context of African-American culture. Opening on October 21st 1974, this Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, in 1975. “The Wiz” tells the story of Dorothy, a young girl living on a farm in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, until a violent tornado whisks her away to the Land of Oz. In order to get home, Dorothy travels along the yellow brick road in her magical silver slippers, meeting the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion who journey with her to see the powerful Wizard of Oz.

Dillard High School’s production captured the jazzy and soulful essence of “The Wiz” with such vibrancy in all aspects of the show. Fantastic consistency was displayed among all the characters from the colorful ensemble to that of the leads, all of which were supported by the brilliant jazz music of the orchestra.

Playing the leading role of Dorothy, Paris Webster carried the show with her dazzling smile, fluid dancing techniques, and soulful singing voice. She provided eminent youthfulness in the portrayal of her character and showed genuine chemistry with the other characters. Another notable performer was Toddrick Graham as The Wiz. His striking stage presence followed by powerful riffs in his singing voice really conveyed the broad traits of The Wiz.

Much of the production’s success can be credited to the performances of the Lion and Scarecrow. Davion Jones (Lion) and Mikayla Queeley (Scarecrow) supplied an astounding amount of energy and enthusiasm, adding consistent character with every movement. Their admirable singing voices, especially in the song “Mean Ole Lion,” were effortlessly put to work while their natural dancing techniques sharpened the songs. On the more comedic side, these two performers manifested hilarious facials and reactions, truly committing to their characters, and further enhancing the final product of “The Wiz.” The works of the animalistic ensemble, known as The Monkeys, created a strong foundation to the leads, as well as the sassy performance of Evilene, played by Imani Brown.

Visually enhancing the imagery of the show, the beautiful make up design by Grace Sindaco and the impressive costume design of Caroline Campos amplified all aspects of the show with coherent colors and exquisite patterns of all sorts. Following the colors on stage were the exceptional colors of music created by the DCA Jazz Orchestra, giving great resonance throughout the entire theater.

Dillard High School’s production of “The Wiz” was an astonishing journey that transported the audience to the Emerald City to meet the great, the powerful, and the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

*** *** ***

By Haley Amann of Coral Glades High School

Come and ease on down the road to join Dorothy, Lion, Tinman and Scarecrow on the classic journey in the production of “The Wiz”, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, and book by William F. Brown. The students at Dillard Center for the Arts certainly filled the room with life and color in the retelling of the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context.

The show is based off of the urban re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Opening in 1975, “The Wiz” ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tony awards, including best musical. It was then adapted into a film and released in 1978.

Leading the journey along the yellow brick road was Dorothy played by Paris Webster. Webster remained true to her character throughout her performance with exuberant energy. Playing her counterpart as the mysterious Wiz was Toddrick Graham. Graham displayed a solid vocal performance throughout the night shining through solos like “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” and “Believe In Yourself.”

Familiar faces came into the picture when Dorothy commenced her journey on the yellow brick road. Mikayla Queeley as the Scarecrow had eloquent projection and articulation with elastic physicality. Imani Brissett played the Tinman and displayed a robotic physicality emphasizing what his character entails; this was featured splendidly in his dance solo in “Slide Some Oil to Me.” Davion James playing the “Mean Ole Lion” had spot on comedic timing and left the audience in stitches throughout his performance with vigorous energy. All the principles had stellar vocals that brought the fun and upbeat music to life. Every actor exceedingly committed to their characters physicality and had remarkable stage presence whenever on stage.

Other memorable performances were Imani Brown as Evilene and Yasharwan Blain as the Gate Keeper; both were highlighted in their brief yet memorable stage time by executing their moments gracefully. Brown had a soulful singing voice with a sassy and rousing character while Blain brought comical moments to the show.

The technical aspects of the show enforced the overall production value by adding creative components such as unique costumes and a simplistic set. Each costume well differentiated the various ensembles and the principles vibrant personalities. Considering the fast and upbeat music, the orchestra had a commendable performance without missing a beat. At times there wasn’t a complete balance between the microphones and orchestra, but overall the performers were heard by the audience.

There was “No Bad News” about Dillard’s production of “The Wiz.” The cast and crew brought justice to creative twist on the timeless classic.

*** *** ***

By Aysha Zackria of NSU University School

Super soulful music, a classic tale about discovering who you are, and high spirits meet seamlessly in Dillard Center for the Arts’s production of The Wiz!

Dorothy and her new-found friends, Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion follow the Yellow Brick Road in hopes of getting what each of their hearts most desires. The supposedly omnipotent and wonderful Wizard of Oz, known in this adaptation simply as The Wiz, is supposed to grant their wishes. First created in L. Frank Baum’s iconic children’s book in 1900, William F. Brown then rewrote and urbanized the classic tale, and with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, the soulful musical adaptation came to be in 1974, and won 7 Tony Awards and 5 Drama Desk Awards.

Paris Webster, as Dorothy, had a beautiful softness and fluidity in her speech and movements. Throughout the show and especially in her solo, “Home,” her childlike innocence was constant and apparent. Toddrick Graham, playing The Wiz, had a voice that conveyed the awesome power of his character. His large and flamboyant movements made him stand out from the rest of the cast. Conversely, when his true nature was revealed, he instantaneously became casual and relatable.

Scarecrow and Lion, played by Mikayla Queeley and Davion Jones, respectively, brought hilarious animation and quirkiness into the show. Queeley sang and danced in character wonderfully, but her comedic and purposeful actions and reactions to other characters are what really made her delightful to watch in songs like “I Was Born On the Day Before Yesterday” and “Ease On Down the Road”. The same is true for Jones, who made the audience roar with bold ad-libs that referenced pop culture. His solo “Mean Ole Lion” was filled to the brim with flair and pizzazz, as it was written to be. Imani Brissett, playing Tinman, skillfully executed the tap dancing in his solo “Slide Some Oil to Me,” as bit by bit, Tinman regained his ability to move.

Imani Brown, playing Evilene, portrayed an unafraid wicked witch perfectly. Her body language and fluid movement defined the character. Reflecting the beauty of the show’s musical concept, her voice was warm, rich, and strong. Everett Oats, playing Winged Monkey, was energetic, but still had the intense darkness that his role required. Though some members of the cast weren’t always in character, the entire Monkey ensemble was fully in character, present, and reacting.

The costumes distinguished character groups and made the show visually appealing. The orchestra flawlessly performed a large number of difficult pieces and stayed in sync with the singers throughout the entire musical. Though sometimes there wasn’t balance between the vocalists and orchestra, the stronger singers made it possible to appreciate the music as a whole.

After seeing this fantastical production, the audience didn’t simply drive away, they “eased on down the road”.

*** *** ***

By Danella Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

“The Wiz,” book by William F. Brown and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, was performed by Dillard Center for the Arts and took the audience in a new direction when exploring the Wonderful World of Oz. “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical” opened on Broadway on January 5, 1975 and ran until January 28, 1979 for a total of 1,672 performances. The production won seven Tony awards, and it opened the door for people to start accepting the works of an all-black cast.

The Lion (Davion Jones) had exceptional stage presence throughout the entire show, which could have been predicted from the moment he stepped out onto the stage. Jones did an excellent job of portraying a cowardly, sassy, and ironically confident lion and had exquisite comedic timing. There was not a moment on the stage he was not acting to his fullest potential. Jones displayed wonderful characterization during his song “Mean Ole Lion”, and a magnificent singing voice which added even more character and personality to his overall performance.

Both Tinman (Imani Brissett) and Scarecrow (Mikayla Queeley) embodied their characters and presented them with passion, motivation, and a purpose. Brissett revealed his marvelous singing voice in “To Be Able to Feel,” in which he displayed amazing vocal power, sang in falsetto, and kept character. Queeley committed strongly to her character through her constant stage falls. She did a superb job during her song “I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday” in which she was consistent with her stunts and displayed dynamic vocals without any unsteadiness in her singing.

Each and every one of the costumes was unique and special in its own way. The entire cast was dressed beautifully in an array of different colors and styles which helped bring energy to the stage. The ensemble was full of talented dancers, but could have improved its motivation throughout the show. Many ensemble members kept a plain face during the entire show while dancing and performing their roles in the background. About three or four members of the ensemble showed emotion to what was currently happening in the scene. The ensemble with the most developed group of characters were the Monkeys. They were all energetic, full of life, and never seemed to keep still or stop acting during their time on stage.

Evilene (Imani Brown) truly immersed herself into her character and was larger than life. She made sure that it was known that she was in charge when she took on the stage. Brown had glorious stage presence and body language during her performance. Brown flaunted her remarkable vocal power during the song “No Bad News” in which she showed admirable characterization and gave a reason to fear her.

Each lead showed magnificent character development and breathtaking emotion during the entire production. They showed their emotions and their struggles. They were all after something they wanted and felt they could not reach it. In the end, when at last they met their goal, they truly showed us the importance of why you need to “Believe in Yourself.”

*** *** ***

Reviews of Once On This Island at Cardinal Gibbons High School on 11/12/2015

By Diego De le Espriella of American Heritage School

In a land of tropical rhythms where mythological figures roam, Love is still able to conquer Death. This perseverance of love was pleasantly portrayed at Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Once on this Island Jr. this past week.

Originally produced at Playwrights Horizons in 1990, it quickly moved to Broadway and was nominated for eight Tony Awards in 1991. The timeless musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens beautifully blends classical tales such as Romeo and Juliet and The Little Mermaid set against the backdrop of a socially divided Caribbean island. When a peasant girl falls in love with a wealthy young man, the Gods intervene to see which is stronger: love or death.

Cardinal Gibbons’ depiction of the show was greatly supported by their use of theater in real time. From the moment the audience entered the theater the ensemble was moving around the stage, constantly performing even when a scene was not occurring. This directorial choice highlighted the acting ability of the ensemble, they did not usually break character and gave the show a sense of realism and consistency that is sometimes lacking from the rather larger-than-life show.

AnaÏs Mamary portrays Ti Moune, the love struck peasant girl who is prepared to do anything for her love. While Mamary’s vocal and acting capabilities were positively received, it was her incredible dancing that truly impressed. Multiple times throughout the show she showed a deep understanding of the dancing styles of Caribbean culture and executed those styles in a seemingly effortless manner during the song “The Ball”, which was a captivating experience. Patrick Gallagher plays Papa Ge, the narcissistic and slightly sadistic God of Death. His eerie and intense portrayal of the demonic antagonist never wavered and he stayed connected to every character on stage, constantly playing with the bodies and souls of the peasants during the entire show.

Other notable performances were displayed by Emily Tallman and Skylar Sorenson who portrayed Asaka and Ezrulie, respectively. Tallman’s vocal delivery and musicality were some of the strongest aspects of the show, highlighted in the frenetic and charming “Mama Will Provide”. Her earthy characterization and grounded movements were a pleasant contrast to Ezrulie’s flowing and gentle nature. Sorenson’s kind and evoking voice was a moving experience during the romantic number “The Human Heart”.

Technically, the show ran in a smooth manner. Occasionally, some cues were missed but the cast was refreshingly adaptive and were able to continue the show without falter. Pablo Murray-Campbell’s logo design cannot go without mention, a truly remarkable creation that has a nearly-professional polish and coupled with a well thought out social media publicity campaign, was sure to draw in large crowds for the show.

Cardinal Gibbons’ Once on this Island Jr. was an overall enjoyable work of theater, transporting its audience to a magical world of Gods and true love.

*** *** ***

By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

On an island of social divisions where peasants mercilessly pray to the gods and dance to simply stay alive, one small girl stirs the balance of the delicate social class system. Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of Once on this Island, Jr. exemplifies the need to choose one’s dreams with care.

Based on Rosa Guy’s 1985 novel My Love, My Love, Once on this Island first graced the Broadway stage with its Caribbean flavor on October 18, 1990, running for well over a year and collecting a total of eight Tony nominations. This one-act musical, with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and score by Stephen Flaherty, transports the audience to a faithful island in the French Antilles where the young peasant Ti Moune, rescued by the will of the gods, discovers her purpose in the fate of a wealthy grandhomme named Daniel Beauxhomme, whom she rehabilitates with her “peasant magic” after his terrible car accident during the gods’ storm. The division in their social classes disrupts the common beliefs of this island’s two different worlds and brings into question the ability of love to conquer death in the face of prejudice.

Cardinal Gibbons High School encapsulated the charm of the Caribbean through the liveliness and vocal capabilities of the ensemble. In addition to their constant presence on stage to create an authenticity for the production’s location, their vivacious commitment to the island choreography and amplitude in the dynamic harmonies constructed the most enthralling moments of the show during each group number.

While Anaïs Mamary’s youthful portrayal of Ti Moune successfully captured the innocence of her character, the true apex of her performance lied within her mesmerizing flexibility and poise during “Ti Moune’s Dance.” Throughout the show, Mamary expressed her characterization through her commanding grace of her physicality, frequently displaying Ti Moune’s good nature with an insuppressible swing of her hips. Her performance at the grandhomme’s ball demonstrated the pinnacle of her ability to captivate a crowd, whether it be onstage or off.

The accelerating development of the production is credited to the large characterizations and the effervescent engagement of the four gods. The inflated personalities of Emily Tallman (Asaka), Brandon Caradonna (Agwe), Skylar Sorenson (Erzulie), and Patrick Gallagher (Papa Ge) assisted their presence as an omnipotent group among the more feeble characterizations of the ensemble. Each expanding on the story of Ti Moune with poignant solos of varying motivations, the gods soared in their vocal aptitudes, specifically recognizable in Tallman’s deliverance. Her flamboyant portrayal of Asaka’s “Mama Will Provide” was outwardly astounding, from her physicality as the ostentatious motherly figure to her unending vocal range.

From the innovative set to the clarity of sound, the technical aspects of the show appeared faultless. Other than a few arguable clothing aspects in the gods’ appearances, the costumes aided the believability of the production, the ragged clothing of the storytellers especially. The cast made commendable use of the set, creating levels of vision to distinguish the different locations in which events occurred during the performance.

The performance of Once on this Island, Jr. at Cardinal Gibbons High School truly displays the strength of love against the power of death and serves as a reminder as to why we tell the story.

*** *** ***

By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

The ocean brought them sand, the sand led them to a tree, and the tree brought them…a girl? “Once On This Island Jr.” tells the story of an orphaned peasant girl searching for her purpose in life after being found in a tree by her adoptive parents. Written and composed by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the original Broadway production of “Once on This Island,” based on Rosa Guy’s “My Love, My Love,” ran from 1990 to 1991 and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1995.

Cardinal Gibbons High School showed a high level of skill and dramaturgy by engaging in real-time theater, enhancing the junior version. Even before the director’s opening speech, the island storytellers invited us into their lives, filling the stage with their rich culture and vibrant traditions. They soon became real-life storytellers, sharing a tale of love versus death on the French Antilles. But it didn’t end there. Before our very eyes, actors changed positions, body language, and characterization, sitting us down at the island gathering to hear the story of Ti Moune (Anaïs Mamary), without a blackout or curtain close to cease their brilliant execution.

Mamary charmed us with her graceful yet powerful tribal rhythm as she danced and fell in love with Daniel Beauxhomme (Ciaran Soden). With a classic Romeo and Juliet origin, these two could never be, but together Mamary and Soden convinced otherwise during their synchronized dance to “The Human Heart” where they connected in a way only lovers can.

With undeniable stage presence, the island Gods of Earth, Love, Death, and Water led the islanders’ movements and actions as they helped tell the story. The entire cast traveled the course of the story with a vivid musicality that enhanced the energy of the production. Papa Ge (Patrick Gallagher), God of Death, in particular made the island tremble with fear as he threatened such islanders’ lives and battled with Erzulie (Skylar Sorenson), Goddess of Love.

While some sound issues became a minor distraction to the performance, standout characters such as Asaka (Emily Tallman), Goddess of Earth, shined through them. Tallman’s powerful vocals, elaborate characterization, and eye-catching costume, stood out in her solo, “Mama Will Provide,” and brought another layer of life and energy to the stage.

The mix of non-stop theatrical activity and well represented island culture turned Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production into a vehicle for the expression of love and loss. All together the cast drew us in with the way they chose to tell the
story and touched our hearts with the powerful moments they were able to create.

*** *** ***

By Dylan Redshaw of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Greetings from the Jewel of the Antilles – Cardinal Gibbon’s island with an enchanting story to tell and one small girl to assist in telling it.

Based on Rosa Guy’s My Love, My Love, Once on This Island premiered on Broadway in 1990. The following year, the show was nominated for eight TONY awards and in 1995 it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the show impressed audiences right from the start. Once on This Island succeeds in telling the tale of a young, peasant girl named Ti Moune as she commences on a quest, given by the Gods, to prove that the power of love is stronger than death.

Cardinal Gibbon’s Once on This Island Jr. was simply delightful. Anaïs Mamary achieved the vivacious spirit of Ti Moune with her lovely vocals and her fantastic dance skills. Mamary’s rhythm in “Ti Moune’s Dance” was absolutely incredible. Each of her moves blended flawlessly with the next and her solo moved fluently. Papa Ge, self-described as “the sly demon of death”, was depicted by Patrick Gallagher, who heightened the energy with his booming, effective voice and impressive intonations. Whether Gallagher was using his dynamic movements or projecting his malevolent laugh, he had utter control of his character throughout the entirety of the show.

Other notable performances included the balance of the gods. Skylar Sorenson as the Goddess of Love, Erzulie, accomplished many admirable moments and projected a beautiful, intense voice. Emily Tallman, as the Goddess of Earth, Asaka, commanded the audience’s attention in her breathtaking song, “Mama Will Provide.” Tallman delivered sublime vocals and had a resplendent presence onstage. The God of Water, Agwe, portrayed by Brandon Caradonna, provided a clear, articulate singing voice with his striking notes in “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer/Rain”.

As a whole, the ensemble was a very important factor in this show. The group provided alluring pictures and created magnificent harmonies that stood out impeccably. The dance numbers were truly phenomenal and helped to boost the vigor of the show. The cast altogether was adept and connected ideally with one another.

The cast used the set to their advantage as it aided in establishing the tropical island setting. Make up, by Catie Babin and Stephanie Bidwill, was designed with utmost detail and was extremely pleasing to the eye. Although there were slight sound issues, each actor worked around them and continued to carry out their lines or songs.

All in all, the students of Cardinal Gibbons executed their bright, Caribbean-flavored show, Once on This Island, Jr., with great finesse and prodigious talent.

*** *** ***

By Emily Hunsucker of Boca Raton High School

The hierarchy of theatre goes God(s), Director, Stage Manager, and then crew/cast. But in Cardinal Gibbon’s performance of “Once on This Island, Jr.”, that hierarchy was changed when the actors became actual gods and goddesses, meddling in the lives of mortals to create this stunning show.

“Once on This Island” was originally staged as an Off-Broadway show in 1990 until the production would open on Broadway that same year where it was nominated for eight Tony Awards and winning a Theatre World Award in 1991. “Once on This Island” is a story of a peasant girl’s life, pain, love, grief, faith, and hope. With many captivating numbers, the junior version is a more condensed show, combining and cutting down certain numbers to make it more appropriate for younger and conservative audiences allowing a large range of people to enjoy this show.

Anaïs Mamary, as Ti Moune, captivated the audience with her stunning dance moves that had a little bit of island flair in each step. She offered a great portrayal of a girl on a journey for love with hints of Romeo and Juliet in her performance making her the protagonist the audience was rooting for from her start. The gods Agwe, Asaka, Papa Ge, and Erzulie, played by Brandon Caradonna, Emily Tallman, Patrick Gallagher, and Skylar Sorenson, respectively, played a huge part in the show. They all were able to convey the power needed to assert themselves above the Storytellers. Each one played a major part in the story and, while some had a smaller role, their impact on the story was not a small one. Ague had a captivating number where he brought the lovers together in “Rain”, Papa Ge makes her choose between love and life in “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer”, Erzulie gives the lovers the gift of love in “Human Heart”, and Asaka turns Ti Moune into a tree in “A Part of Us”.

This show was brought to life with the beautiful execution of the Caribbean culture portrayed through the hip movements and singing of the cast. It was evident that the ensemble really got into this show; during the pre-show and intermission they were able to bring up and keep up the energy, never letting the audience leave that island. Even when they were in the background of the stage, they were an asset to the overall scene; watching the story unfold gave an interactive and dynamic feel to the show. Since this was a no-blackout show, many of the ensemble were also named characters. Ti Moune’s parents, played by Carlie Wright and Nathan Vogel, moved from agile Storytellers to a frail, elderly couple in seconds with no makeup or clothing changes. The rich character of Daniel Beauxhomme, played by Ciaran Soden, was a great foil to his secondary character as a poor Storyteller showing the versatility of, not only this actor, but much of the ensemble.

No show is complete without a competent tech crew, and under the leadership of Reagan Shaw, the crew was able to further transport the audience into the jungles of the Caribbean. While some cues seemed misplaced, the lovely lighting scheme accompanied by quick sound cues conveyed a clear message of the scene and, from thunder storms scenes to making deals with the devil, the theatre was brought to life. The beautiful costumes further conveyed the time and place of the musical while also enhancing the character of each cast member; rugged clothes that allowed for versatility in not only character choice but also their choreography giving the overall technical side of this production a neat little bow on top.

Overall, this show was a lovely spectacle full of a fun cast of characters and spot on technical aspects that made it enjoyable to watch and kept the audience engaged and showed everyone why they tell their story.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Hotel Paradiso at JP Taravella on 11/07/2015

By Mandy Figueroa of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

hotellg“What a night!” is what everyone says when they check out of the Hotel Paradiso. The show takes place in 19th century Paris and revolves around two married people who wish to engage in an affair. Monsieur Boniface and Madame Cot check into the small, discreet Parisian hotel to commence their affair, but unbeknownst to them, several friends are also staying in the same hotel. This leads to a flurry of comedic situations and encounters conducted by a variety of vibrant characters.

JP Taravella High School’s production of “Hotel Paradiso” was nothing short of perfect. The consistency of patterns and props throughout the stage made for a believable setting for the story. Throughout the acts, several lighting techniques were used in successfully in highlighting different rooms and scenes. Every door open was perfectly timed and in sync with one another; but the tech of this production was not alone in its glory.

The cast of “Hotel Paradiso” had the audience constantly cackling at their timing and slap-stick comedy. Dashawn Perry, who portrayed our protagonist, Monsieur Boniface, commanded the audience’s attention every time he spoke. Despite having to deliver a number of lines, Perry never fumbled on his articulation or memorization, and the use of his face, body, and vocal volume resulted in a hilarious and authentic leading-man.

Perry was not the only skilled actor contributing to this show. Taylor Barth, who played Angelique, Boniface’s wife, and Alex Montesino, who portrayed Marcelle, Boniface’s lover, were able to command a comedic reaction from the audience collaboratively and separately. Hagan Oliveras, who portrayed Marcelle’s anxious nephew, hilariously executed an awkward and tension-filled relationship with the house maid.

Once we get to the hotel, we encounter several other energetic characters who contribute to the humor of the show. Georges, played by Daniel Agmon, was the center of frantic energy as a young bellhop. The hotel manager Anniello, played by Kevin-Cruz Capella, mastered an Italian accent and displayed a pleasing performance and chemistry with Agmon.

The mastery of the fourth-wall break did not go unnoticed and added an emphasis to the hilarious text in the show. Although some accents in the show were unclear and inconsistent, the actors’ articulation and portrayal of these characters masked any weakness. Overall, the collaborative work of these hilarious and talented actors, plus outstanding technical aspects, made for a night no-one will forget.

*** *** ***

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Welcome to the Hotel Paradiso! Set down your luggage, take off your coat, and prepare to experience the night of your life. With cigar smoking ghosts, an Italian peeping tom, and a mass arrest, this hotel is no Embassy Suites. JP Taravella’s hysterical production of Hotel Paradiso checks us into the frantic inn and won’t let us leave until we’ve laughed our shoes off.

Written by George Feydeau and Maurice Desvallieres, Hotel Paradiso has not only stood the test of time, but has also broken the language barrier. Originally written in French as “L’Hôtel du libre échange,” the farce premiered in 1894, making its Broadway debut in 1957. Set in 19th century France, Hotel Paradiso follows the secret affair of Monsieur Boniface and Madame Cot. When the two adulterous lovers check into the infamous Hotel Paradiso, they must escape the familiar faces who have also decided to spend the night.

Dashawn Perry plays the clever and cunning architect, Benedict Boniface, leading the show’s antics with a mistaken identity here and a punch in the face there. Perry demonstrates exceptional comedic ability, never missing a beat throughout the play’s rapidly paced three acts. With an occasional aside, Perry engages the audience and turns a truly despicable character into one to root for. Marcelle Cot, the object of Boniface’s desires, is played by Alex Montesino. Montesino embodies the neglected wife with energy and clarity. The two have remarkable chemistry and successfully carried the performance with their impressive physicality and dedication to their lively characters.

Kevin Cruz-Capella and Daniel Agmon prove that a devious Italian and an anxious bellhop can make a perfect team. Both gentleman portray characters with foreign accents; the Italian Anniello (Capella) and British Georges (Agmon.) This challenge, however, did not at all hinder the actors. Their speech remained articulate and consistent throughout the performance.

Monsieur Martin, played by Anthony Pompey, has a particularly strange speech impediment, a stutter that only appears during inclement weather. Pompey successfully stuttered his way through the performance, hilariously bringing the mayhem to a satisfying conclusion. His four daughters played by Jennifer deFreitas, Ashleigh Henderson, Carmen Bulthuis, and Rachel Ihaz were also truly adorable.

A revolving set alternates from the Boniface home to the Hotel Paradiso, optimizing the stage space. The set successfully and seamlessly transformed without the hassle. The costumes were also appropriate for the time period and pleasing to the eye. Contributing to the success of the performance, was a perfect management of microphones and execution of sound cues and effects.

With mistaken identities, hilarious misunderstandings, and the occasional poltergeist, JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso provides a theatrical experience that is not only side-splittingly funny, but also truly memorable. Once you check into the Hotel Paradiso, you won’t want to check out any time soon.

*** *** ***

By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Only in Hotel Paradiso can one observe a scandalous rendezvous gone awry, a terrible case of mistaken identity, and even a haunted suite! With several other hilariously gone wrong situations, the students of JP Taravella High School brought to life this production with great panache.

Originally entitled L’Hôtel du Libre échange, Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres crafted this comedic masterpiece way back in 1894. The show follows two neighbors who wish to embark on an extramarital affair, however things are never that simple. Hilarity ensues when a series of complications arise, forcing them to check out before an actual affair could even occur!

In this ensemble based production, the entire cast deserves applause. Every actor, whether speaking or not, was truly living in the moment. Despite a few line stumbles, the actors upheld the fast paced tempo without fail.

At the center of the story was Boniface (Dashawn Perry) who was nothing less than spectacular. Perry had powerful presence and commanded the stage. Not only was his comedic timing impeccable, but his facial expressions and mannerisms also displayed overall control of his character. Alongside him was Alex Montesino (Marcelle) as the central female character. In a farce such as Hotel Paradiso, actors are expected to be able to handle the material, but Montesino’s grasp on comedy made her a stand out. She deserves praise for her ability to switch from incredulous to embarrassed seamlessly as well as handle the over the top moments of Marcelle without making them appear overacted.

Despite not appearing for an entire act, Taylor Barth (Angelique) left an exceptional impression. Her humor extended past her line delivery to her body language as well. Hagan Oliveras (Maxime) depicted his odd character with great skill, making the awkward nature of the young nephew appear completely natural. Beside Oliveras was Stephanie Aguirre (Victoire) as the provocative maid. Their comfort with one another allowed their moments together to shine as they never seemed forced. Kevin Cruz-Capella (Anniello) is also worth mentioning for his consistency both with his character and Italian accent, which never once wavered.

Technically, the show was flawless. Elements such as props and lighting were highly specific to detail. In a period piece such as this, technical details can really make or break the show, so kudos to everyone backstage!

Consider the time spent at JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso time well spent as we definitely enjoyed our stay. What a night!

*** *** ***

By Erin Cary of NSU University School

An unsuccessful affair, an abundance of mix-ups, and a shady, Parisian hotel! Hilarity is sure to be found onstage at JP Taravella in their stunning production of Hotel Paradiso.

Written in 1894 by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres, Hotel Paradiso follows the story of a married Frenchman and his best friend’s wife who rendezvous at a dodgy, but discreet Parisian hotel. Although their intentions are less than honorable, trouble ensues when the pair notices that the hotel’s other occupants all have familiar faces. Their new goal becomes to escape unnoticed! The three act farce first premiered in December of 1894 at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris. The version performed at JP Taravella was translated into English by Peter Glenville in the 1950’s.

The leads of the production carried the show with impeccable charm. Dashawn Perry, as Monsieur Boniface, captured the audience from the very beginning. His constant enthusiasm, diverse intonation, and hilarious physicality ensured that the show was always far from boring. Alex Montesino, as Marcelle Cot, impressed onlookers with her strong diction and unyielding naturalism. Whether kissing her lover or just picking up a fallen candle, she never let her character falter. Perry and Montesino worked well jointly, creating an impressive and realistic dynamic. They easily fell together in little moments and in driving scenes, making their performances even funnier and more authentic.

The actors playing the two lovers’ unappreciated spouses, Taylor Barth (Angelique Boniface) and Mohamad Attalah (Monsieur Cot), added another layer of comedy to the show. Barth’s motions and demeanor accurately portrayed that of a frazzled wife. Attalah exhibited constant energy, commanding the audience’s attention. Hagan Oliveras, as the young nephew Maxime, received bursts of laughs every time he walked on stage. Through his physicality and bold choices, he created a clear character arch while maintaining his charming naivety. Anthony Pompey, as Monsieur Martin, effectively exaggerated his weather-induced stutter, adding another element of farce to the performance.

Kevin Cruz-Capella (Anniello) and Daniel Agmon (Georges) both executed brilliant comedic reactions and consistently strong accents. With just one word, they had the audience rolling with laughter. Stephanie Aguirre, as the promiscuous maid Victoire, also helped to solidify the show’s hilarity. The four daughters of Monsieur Martin created a beautiful dynamic on stage, with clear and lovable connections between all of them. Their engagement and vigor was eye-catching and appreciated. The strong chemistry between almost every member of the cast was unfaltering and compensated for any performer who may have displayed unimpressive diction.

The show’s sound and lighting added an elegance to each scene, evenly flowing with no noticeable mishaps. The stage management and crew did a sufficient job, properly executing the few changes they had. Props and makeup appeared to be period-appropriate, and effectively contributed to the performance.

During the entire show, a beautiful energy flowed throughout the theater. The combination of enthusiasm, humor, strength, and talent made for a very pleasant stay at JP Taravella’s Hotel Paradiso.

*** *** ***

By Kalei Tischler of South Plantation High School

“What a night!” Love affairs, haunted bedrooms, crazy goose chases, and endless comedic moments can all be found in JP Taravella High School’s enticing performance of “Hotel Paradiso”!

First produced in 1894, “Hotel Paradiso”, written by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres, takes place in 19th century Paris. The story begins in the Boniface residence, where Mr. Boniface claims that he wants to engage in an affair with Marcelle, his best friend Mr. Cot’s wife. The two check into Hotel Paradiso, with intentions of staying the night, but come across several complications that prevent them from getting as far as even a kiss. They get into trouble and have to jump through hoops to keep their spouses from finding out about their secret affair.

The cast worked as a collective whole to create and sustain an energy that could not be destroyed. Roles that varied from leads to features were treated with equal commitment, each actor staying true to their character. The relationships between the leads were heartfelt and realistic. Their comedic timing was flawless and uproarious.

Dashawn Perry was very successful in capturing the essence of Boniface, a charming and witty architect. Alex Montesino also did a wonderful job of portraying Marcelle, Mr. Boniface’s secret lover. Montesino’s performance was entertaining and realistic. The two worked well together and they each were very quick to hit their punch lines.

The stage presence of both Angelique, played by Taylor Barth, and Maxime, played by Hagan Oliveras, was strong. Georges, the skittish and awkward bell hop, played by Daniel Agmon, was hilarious in each line that he delivered. All of the Porters did a phenomenal job in creating comedic moments solely through their physicality,

The technical aspects of “Hotel Paradiso” were outstanding. The lighting and sound was never an issue. The set was inviting and simplistic in Act One and Three, and entirely intriguing in Act Two.

JP Taravella High School’s production was beyond captivating. Come stay a night with the cast, it will leave you feeling “splendid”!

*** *** ***

Reviews of To Kill A Mockingbird at Pine Crest School on Friday, 11/6/2015

By Nickolas Kewla of Pompano Beach High School

“It’s a Sin To Kill a Mockingbird”. The phase still sits in audience’s mind because this performance of “To Kill A Mockingbird” left the crowd speechless in awe. From the heart warming supporting characters, such as Dill (Sammy Koolik), to the main character, Atticus Finch (Tommy Sullivan), the play left a soft spot in your chest that you will feel.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” is set in Alabama, 1935. The performance explorers a trail between two races when racism was still tolerated. Tom Robinson (Kunya Rowley) an African American man, is falsely accused by a white woman named Mayella (Brittyn Bonham). Following the adventures and life experiences of Scout (Cayleigh Pine) and Jem (Zack Shevin), the Pine Crest adaptation was praised by the audience for pushing the boundaries of a high school play. To take on such a serious topic was carried out in smart way.

The stage was decorated using beautifully made props that had a light blue theme that spoke serenity. The swing set and houses were placed in a way that the audience could understand the scene changes and storyline. As the story went on, the characters got deeper and the lines got more real and wise. Each cast member flawlessly executed their lines in a way that flowed and that kept everyone interested and immersed. The movements of the play felt needed and in place. Everyone who was on stage was clearly seen and the blocking felt like I was watching real life people. Lighting and sound were perfection as everything was seen and heard on the stage. The cast members of Pine Crest really brought the To Kill A Mockingbird characters to life in their dramatic journey of arts.

Standouts of the play include Scout, played by Cayleigh Pine, who was always active on stage and made us feel a connection to her character. Atticus Finch, played by Tommy Sullivan, also had very long, wise monologues that intrigued the audience and pushed the story alongside to its climax. The lights turned off and all we saw was the moon shining on stage. The scene built suspense and was scary in itself. This proved that this stage performance was everything because it had drama, comedy, and even suspense! I have to give the biggest praise to the ensemble cast. This is because even when they were not using microphones, the crowd still heard them crystal clear because of the projection. This skill is something each member of the cast possessed.

“To Kill A Mocking Bird”, by Pine Crest, is well worth your time. The excitement and feeling in your heart it will give you makes you think a lot about life. The overall theme and colors spoke to you and gave you a 1930s’ feel. Thank you for putting on a show that the audience and I will never forget.

*** *** ***

By Michael Valladares of Cypress Bay High School

Pine Crest School’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” brought a beautiful, classic, coming of age story from the page to the stage. Dealing with the heavy themes of racial injustice, segregation, and classism, Pine Crest helped audiences understand why “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is based on the book by Harper Lee published in 1960. Because of its use of “the n-word” the book has been banned from many reading lists, or had its contents changed to make the book more palatable. Pine Crest made a strong decision to keep the word in their production, and its stinging effect is a perfect justification for doing so. The story of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is well-known and timeless: a young girl, Scout Finch, describes and lives her life in the Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Her father, the infinitely wise Atticus Finch, has been tasked with defending a black man in court during a time when a white man’s word was enough to get a black man killed.

Pine Crest’s production began with an original song by Sarah Gale that provided stark contrast to the feel of the time period of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Gale has a beautiful voice, and the power of her song instantly excites audiences in anticipation of what is to come.

Leading the bulk of the show is Cayleigh Pine as Scout. Pine commanded the stage with a strong Southern characterization: from her spot-on accent to her tomboyish mannerisms, Pine truly embraced Scout’s character. Her relationship with her brother Jem, played by Zack Shevin, is well executed as well. Joining the two children in their summer adventures is Dill, Sammy Koolik, whose spot on comedic timing and hilarious stage presence provide comedic relief from the intensity of the show. Koolik is no one trick pony, showing the many dimensions that Dill has and commanding a complete grasp of the character’s melancholy background. The contrast between adult and child was clearly evident in actors’ mannerisms. Atticus, played by Tommy Sullivan, is the wise old man of the story. Sullivan enunciated every word, so the audience didn’t miss a pinch of Atticus’s insightful dialogue. Nicole Thraum played the hackneyed Mrs. Dubose, and commanded attention and laughter the few times she graced the stage. While some actors broke their accents or seemed somewhat robotic, Pine Crest nonetheless had a strong cast.

Pine Crest’s lighting design was distracting at times, though there was clever use of it in depicting the time. A few sound problems occurred during the show, but the stage managers showed ingenuity in getting it fixed very quickly. Scene changes were organic, and very quick, even when removing twenty chairs from the stage.

Pine Crest’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is far more than a baby step when it comes to bringing racial themes into the South Florida high school theaters. Pine Crest left audiences with a stunning reminder of the dark racial past of the United States.

*** *** ***

By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

While it may be a sin to kill a mockingbird, it was certainly a joy to see Pine Crest’s moving production of the show, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” With developed chemistry, powerful actors, and secure technical aspects, this production admirably conveyed the racial indignities of Maycomb, Alabama in 1935.

Author Harper Lee revolutionized the way that people viewed race when her book, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was released in 1960. She wrote about the inequalities she found all around her and turned it into a story about a lawyer named Atticus Finch who defends a black man, Tom Robinson, against the accusations of a guilty white woman-much to the chagrin of the rest of the town. Thirty years later, the strong themes of justice, innocence, and morality persisted when the play was first produced in Monroeville, Alabama.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” would not be possible without the work of Pine Crest’s capable actors. Tommy Sullivan as Atticus Finch had a commanding stage presence and more than adequately conveyed the serious and impactful man Atticus should be. The spirited chemistry among Scout (Cayleigh Pine), Jem (Zack Shevin), and Dill (Sammy Koolik) brought the show to life. Their wild energy, especially Koolik’s, kept the show upbeat despite the serious subject matter. Even during the court scene, this group stayed engaged and a unique internal conflict from each one was showcased.

Personalities from other characters like Judge Taylor (Deanna Hennelly), Mrs. Dubose (Nicole Thraum), and Maudie Atkinson (Tara Schulman) added to the production. Besides having a strong stage presence even when not speaking, Hennelly remained completely focused and involved during the court scene. Thraum’s performance as Mrs. Dubose provided comedic relief beyond the hustle and bustle of the children. Her accurate dependency on the walking cane as well as her mannerisms made her a believable elderly woman. Schulman’s sweet voice and knowing smile as Maudie created an interesting force as well. These and the other citizens of Maycomb made up a compelling audience during the court scene. While the amount of motion was distracting at times, each actor maintained their Southern character through out the show.

The simple set proved effective for the play and the characters utilized it well, notably when the children playfully hung on the railing of the front porch. The actors were very comfortable in their space, although the set could have been altered a little more to distinguish between their neighborhood and the courtroom, the rustic look fit the 1930s. The hair and makeup also fit the time period and made the characters clearly visible under the harsh light. The stage management should be commended for creatively fixing Scout’s microphone when there was a problem. Since her character never comes off stage, a crew member discretely tended to her as she ducked behind a set piece.

Commanding stage presences and a strong technical team made Pine Crest’s approach to this classic story a memorable experience. As Atticus says: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” Well, the actors pulled the audience so much into the story that they had no choice but to have a personal connection to the show.

*** *** ***

By Sophia Young of Coral Glades High School

It’s not only just “black and white;” “To Kill a Mockingbird” at Pine Crest is sure to be more, with a colorful performance adapted from a well-known American classic.

Based off of the classic Harper Lee novel of the same title, “To Kill a Mockingbird” tells the story of young Scout Finch, and lawyer Atticus Finch in his endeavors defend a black man in the racially segregated 1935 Alabama. This adaption of the novel by Chrisopher Sergel debuted in 1990 in Monroeville, Alabama- the “Literary Capital of Alabama.” The play runs every May in Monroeville, and the townspeople make up the cast, and the racially segregated audience makes up the jury. The play additionally ran in London in 2006, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

Pine Crest’s production of the classic tale was overall very well done, with actors and technical aspects that exceeded the expectations one would have of a high school production.

Leading the show as Atticus Finch was Tommy Sullivan, who accurately depicted the character’s loving and fatherly persona. Playing the young Scout was Cayleigh Pine, who nailed her childish personality, as well as Jem, played by Zack Shevin. Pine impressively remained the vulnerable and advanced young girl Scout is throughout the turning events of the story. Narrating the show as an older Scout (now known as Jean Louise) was Noey Boldizsar, who provided a sweet and mature aspect to her character, while remaining connected to the action on stage.

Playing the defendant Tom Robinson was Mr. Kunya Rowley, who still precisely displayed the sweet, “guilty”, and innocent aspects that the controversial character had to offer. Bob and Mayella Ewell, played by Nicholas Tosello and Brittyn Bonham, successfully portrayed their rude, trashy, and “guilty” characters to the audience. Providing comedic relief to the show at the perfect moments were Nicole Thraum and Sammy Koolick, playing Mrs. Dubose and Dill. Making the most of her small role was Deanna Hennelly, portraying Judge Taylor, who seemed very real and connected throughout the show. All characters’ southern accents were very consistent throughout the entire show, which added to the ambiance of the setting as a whole.

The technical aspects of the show were slightly above average for a high school production, and there were few bumps throughout the show. The makeup was overall very basic, but there was a lack of aging makeup on most characters, and it seemed as if all characters were the same age. The set only contributed to the plot, and was well adapted to by all actors with much interaction between the action on stage and the physical set. The lighting was nice at most times, but some changes seemed unmotivated and unnecessary. The sound was well executed for the most part, despite a few issues with microphones going out, which was quickly and swiftly fixed by the stage crew. The stage crew successfully transformed the set between scene changes, going unnoticed by audiences.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” at Pine Crest is overall a heart-warming tale of family and doing the right thing, and would be sin to miss.

*** *** ***

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Both the spotlight and the hot Alabama sun shone brightly on the Pine Crest stage as they exercised Southern hospitality in welcoming theatre-goers into the world of one the greatest novels in American literature. Atticus Finch may have struggled to convince a judge that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, but when it came to translating this timeless message from the page to the stage, the audience at Pine Crest was sold long before the jury reached its verdict.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a faithful theatrical adaptation of the highly celebrated 1960 novel by Harper Lee, and has been performed annually in the author’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama since its debut in 1990. The play is narrated by Jean Louise Finch (otherwise known as Scout) as she reflects on her childhood in 1930s Alabama, specifically a trial conducted by her father Atticus Finch involving the alleged rape of a white woman by a black man.

Cayleigh Pine led the production and embodied the vitality of innocence with her energetic performance as little Scout. Pine very effectively conveyed the character’s age (thanks to combination of physicality and vocal manipulation,) a virtue that lent humor and lightheartedness to the story, but Pine countered this earnest playfulness with impressive command of dramatic scenes to create a richly balanced performance. Pine also shared a very comfortable chemistry with Tommy Sullivan, who played Scout’s father Atticus with dignified poise and an air of maturity. Some actors lacked the stage presence that Pine consistently demonstrated; at times dialogue lacked fluidity and motivation, age portrayal was occasionally ambiguous, and interactions between characters sometimes seemed forced and contrived.

Sammy Koolik brought a refreshing effervescence as Dill, a friend of Scout. His charming giddiness was the source of both on-point comedy and a sense heartfelt earnestness, consequently making the performance both memorable and emotionally resonating. Nicole Thraum underwent a complete transformation as Mrs. Dubose, Scout’s cantankerous neighbor, thanks to a striking commitment to physicality. This, in combination with hilarious line delivery, made Thraum an immediate audience favorite.

Pine Crest’s set was composed of visually arresting silhouetted structures which added an eye-catching rustic aesthetic to stage and gave a gritty elegance to the production’s atmosphere. Also along the lines of technical achievement, Sarah Gale’s performance of the self-written song “We Can Be Free” was a powerful creative addition to the play, especially since inclusion of this contemporary sound into a period piece presented a risk that ultimately paid off.

It’s safe to say that many high school students can’t even make it from cover to cover of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, so any high school theatre program that makes it from overture to curtain call of this monumentally demanding play deserves rightful recognition. Pine Crest not only made it through, but did so with warmth and grace, thus giving satisfaction to fans of the novel – and to the rest, motivation to pick it up again and finally find out what the hype is all about.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Falling at American Heritage School on 11/8/2015

By Emily Lynch of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The saying “A mother’s love has no limits” took on a whole new meaning in American Heritage’s production of the Off Broadway play, “Falling.” A bright light of sympathy and understanding was cast upon a hushed and sensitive topic with a fresh originality in the school’s candid portrayal.

This contemporary piece focuses on a family’s struggle to cope with their severely autistic son, Josh, and his increasingly violent tendencies that are beyond both Josh and the family’s control. The play specifically focuses on the mother’s, Tami, unconditional yet struggling love for her son’s well being and safety in regards of long term care. While dealing with the pressures of a mother in law that’s zealous in means of religiosity (Sue), an ornery and petulant 16 year old daughter (Lisa), and a deteriorating passion and heightened disagreements in the marriage with her husband (Bill), Tami comes to realize her vulnerability and her limitless love cause her to need to be caught while “falling.”

The students brought a lifelike quality to their characters that made viewers feel like a welcomed fly on the wall observing the family’s everyday life. Delaney Lovejoy (Tami) gave an extremely naturalistic embodiment of a mother that showed her character’s raw exasperation and burden. Brian Haimes as Bill gave an exceptional performance after being substituted in the play with a day’s notice. His portrayal gave a realism and authenticity that evoked the impression that he really was a burdened and confused dad. Haimes especially gave an aura of great chemistry with Lovejoy as his wife that seemed the two had been married for 20 years rather than been cast mates for a day. Diego De La Espriella gave an impeccable performance that left the audience in tears on more then one occasion. He delivered his complex role with such rawness and authenticity that it could easily be believed that he was a genuine sufferer of Autism. Through Felicia Reich’s (Sue) believability she gave a realistic personification as a grandma that touts her strict Biblical views. Reich’s delivery of refreshing comic relief and her frightened view towards Josh showed the actress’s versatility. Tess Rowland as Lisa also gave a commendable performance through the delivery of her whines, complaints, and derisions towards Josh that created her as a detestable character.

Heritage’s crew did a commendable job on the set. It personified the seemingly humdrum life of most suburban families but emphasized certain elements, like the bright blue of the feather box, to show the family’s unique situation. Although the blocking of the play was mostly well done, there were a few points where action was set too far downstage so that certain viewers could not see. The lighting was also well done to convey the change in the direction and mood of the story.

The performance by the American Heritage students evoked emotions and showed struggles faced by thousands of families and unbeknownst to millions. The overwhelming rawness of the performance created a story and message that won’t soon be forgotten.

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By Jorge Amador of West Broward High School

For Tami and her family life was anything but ordinary. With a powerful and inspiring message bringing light to the spectrum disorder of Autism, American Heritage’s performance of Falling showcased the remarkable realism and the hardships of this “perfect” family.

Written by Deanna Jent, The Off-Broadway play, Falling, shows the trials that an ordinary family has to face with an autistic young man. The play takes place in the modern-day household of Josh and his family and their many troubling adventures they face together. This story is even more captivating on the fact that Deanna Jent’s own son experienced autism. Winner of the 2012 Kevin Kline award, Falling test all norms and highlights the remarkable inspiring disorder of autism.

Diego De la Espriella portrays the role of Josh in a realistic and inspiring way well beyond his years; bringing light and acceptance to the reality of autism. Espriella’s mannerisms and movements brought the story to life of this “falling” family. He showed the work of a daring actor, fearless enough to embody the life of the character. Also, portraying remarkable fearlessness was Brian Haimes, not only did he design the homey set, but stepped into the role of Bill less than 24 hours before the show. He showcased and delivered the role in a beautiful and heartening way under the circumstances. Delaney LoveJoy also embodied the role of a struggling mother in a heart-warming yet realistic way and carries the play in an uplifting manner.

Also, two impressive actresses, Tess Rowland and Felicia Reich, bring comic relief to the heart wrenching show with subtle yet captivating scenes.

American Heritage was brave enough to take on such a mature and challenging show as a high school. They brought justice and warm heartedness to this sophisticated play and delivered a wonderful message about autism.

Another impressive part of the production was the realistic and eye-catching set designed by Brian Haimes, whom also play Bill. The homey set brought the audience into the life of the struggling family. With remarkable attention to detail and amazing use of the limited space in a blackbox. Haimes produced a beautiful set that brought the story to life. It made the audience feel as if they were a part of the family.

Overall American Heritage displayed a unique and heartfelt performance of Falling that is one for the books.

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By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

How far is one willing to go to keep their family together? American Heritage’s production of Falling is filled with raw, tender emotion in how a family deals with the often strenuous reality of living with an autistic child.

Based on the playwright Deanna Jent’s own experiences with her autistic son, Falling revolves around mother Tami, who spends most of her time caring for the special needs of her son, Josh, a child with autism who is prone to violent outbursts. With the help of her husband, Bill, and a series of games and code words, she seemingly has everything under control. Yet when his grandmother comes to visit, the family’s carefully constructed routine unravels, revealing the hidden dysfunction lying underneath.

Diego De La Espriella gave an incredibly realistic and nuanced performance as Josh. Each of his mannerisms, from his tendency to brush his fingers against certain things each time he passed them to his reluctance to look anyone in the eye, were true to the nature of his character. Everything he did felt natural. In one particular scene, when he was in a fit of rage, spit was flying from his mouth as he threw himself on the floor to escape the sound of a dog barking. Espriella wasn’t afraid to expose himself like this on stage, contributing the overall vulnerable nature of the show.

Delaney Lovejoy, as Tami, was both grounded and personal. She fully embodied the role of a frazzled mom who loves her son and yet is terrified of him. Her stress and her fear were readily apparent through her stellar line delivery and organic chemistry with each member of the cast, especially her husband, Bill, played by stand-in Brian Haimes. Considering he was not originally intended for the role, Haimes did an incredible job as a gentle father figure. Felicia Reich, as Sue, was also very down to earth as a bible-quoting grandmother who’s not quite sure how to best help her son’s aching family.

The set, designed by Brian Haimes, truly resembled an actual living room, with comfortable couches, family photos, and a glimpse of the front porch through the window. Props, done by Emily Grossutti, were remarkably detailed, further creating the illusion of a realistic house.

As Tami says to Grandma Sue, “We have to laugh about this stuff, otherwise we get stuck.” American Heritage’s show takes this to heart, using ample humor to give an intelligent, honest, and bittersweet portrayal of how autism can sometimes make families feel as if they’re falling, with nothing to grab on to.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

American Heritage School blew away its audience with its stellar performance of the eye opening and thought provoking show, ‘Falling.’

Originally opening off Broadway in 2012 at the Minetta Lane Theater, ‘Falling’ follows the life of an autistic 18-year-old named Josh. When his grandmother decides to come for a visit, the family’s entire routine becomes completely disoriented, creating utter chaos. The play focuses on the struggles of the family as a whole, both physically and mentally.

In the theatrical world, the expression ‘the show must go on’ are words to live by. This was evident in ‘Falling’ for one monumental reason. The actor originally planning to portray the role of Bill, the father of Josh, abruptly had to drop out of the show the day of opening night. With quick thinking, Mrs. Christina Wright-Ballard, director of the show, put in senior Brian Haimes to fill the role. If not told of this news beforehand, one would’ve never guessed that Haimes had not been cast as this role and rehearsing just as long as everyone else. Haimes was also the set designer of the show, creating a stunning set that left audience members astonished.

To take on a role that calls for such a demanding physicality can be a difficult task for actors. For Diego De La Espriella, who portrayed the role of Josh, this certainly did not seem like the case. Every twitch and movement that he made with his body created such a powerful character that impacted the audience. With such fluid and consistent mannerisms and ticks, Espriella created the performance of a lifetime, leaving everyone watching speechless.

When in a show with a cast of five actors, connection between one another is crucial for the success of that show. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the connection between the actors in ‘Falling’ was so incredibly strong and intimate. This is seen through actress Delaney Lovejoy’s portrayal of Josh’s mother, Tami. In every scene she was in, she would connect with all of her fellow actors, whether it be when she’s comforting Josh or arguing with Bill. She stayed in the moment every second she was on stage, leading to an exceptional performance overall. Josh’s grandmother Sue (Felicia Reich) also brought such a beautiful and refreshing character to the performance, playing the role of the over-religious grandmother with such ease. The role of Lisa, portrayed by Tess Rowland, played such an impactful part of the production. Her anger and frustration for her brother was shown whenever she screamed at her mother or made a snide remark if her brother was even mentioned.

Through the troubles and the barriers, American Heritage School pushed through and created a magnificent piece of art, leaving audience members weeping at the beauty of it all. They certainly did not fall short in the portrayal of the powerful lesson shown through this beautiful play.

. * * *
By Megan Cahill of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Falling, written by Deanna Jent, follows the life of Josh, a severely autistic young man, and what his family goes through in order to take care of him. When his Grandma Sue, an outsider of Josh’s home life, comes to visit, the drama heightens as she witnesses the strength, dedication, and love it takes to give Josh the most prosperous life he can have.

American Heritage did a phenomenal job tackling such a difficult show. The chemistry among the cast and intimate setting of the black box the show took place in created a true feeling of family.

One of the many great performances was from sudden understudy, Brian Haimes as the father, Bill. He was able to do what professional actors are paid to do. He came this afternoon with a stellar performance after having less than a day to learn his role. It was highly impressive to see him become the character with such ease, as if he was cast as the part from the start.

Another notable performance was from Felicia Reich, who played Grandma Sue. She easily brought to life the part of the loving, God-driven, grandmother. Tess Rowland, who played Josh’s sister Lisa, had an intriguing performance as she gave a new perspective on being the average, teenage girl growing up with a disabled brother.

The mother Tami, played by Delaney Lovejoy, really showed the audience what a mother’s undying love for her children is. Her understanding of being a mother of a disabled child was truly outstanding, and she presented herself with wisdom and maturity beyond her years. The most moving performance was from Diego De La Espriella as the autistic son, Josh. He had a stellar attention to detail and amazing comprehension of his character. His research and dedication to the roll was evident in his triumphant performance.

The tech aspects were equally successful as the actors. The set and lighting complimented each other and gave the feeling that the audience was intruding on a real home; and, the props added on to the authenticity of the play.

Falling is not an average play that most high schools would be able to tackle with such success, but American Heritage’s rendition was highly prosperous. I felt every emotion along with the cast as if it were really happening. I am extremely impressed and I’m sure any future audience members of Heritage’s Falling will be too.

. * * *

Reviews of The Drowsy Chaperone at St. Andrews School on, 11/6/2015

By Kayla Goldfarb of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Sit back, relax, grab a glass of “ice water” and get ready for some jazz hands! Wedding bells are ringing, and in Saint Andrew’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone, wedding bells will most certainly chime!

Surfacing on Broadway in 2006, The Drowsy Chaperone is a show within a show with larger than life characters that parodies, yet plays homage, to the golden era of musical comedies. Originally a skit intended to be a gift for Bob Martin and his fiancee, The Drowsy Chaperone spawned into a full length musical which follows an antisocial Broadway fanatic simply referred to as Man In Chair. As he laments about the musical, an old record allows the audience to be transported into the wild and flashy production.

Cristian Cano (Man In Chair) skillfully depicted the role of the agoraphobic, over enthusiastic narrator of the bizarre tale. Cano expertly handled the difficult task of remaining on stage throughout the entire performance, which earns him considerable commendation. His energy remained consistent, hardly ever missing a beat, as he lamented about the musical or simply watched on with bursting adoration. However, it was Petra Marie Edwards (The Drowsy Chaperone), portraying the musical’s namesake that truly stole the show. She truly lit up the stage with her debaucherous atmosphere and sultry vocals. Her riveting rendition of “As We Stumble Along” only further proved Edwards had a powerful presence on stage.

Naveen Sharma (Robert Martin) proved to be more than a mere caricature of a lovesick husband-to-be. In numbers such as “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen”, Sharma showcased his ability to sing, tap, and even roller skate while upholding the cheesy yet debonair persona wonderfully. Hilarity ensued whenever Jorge Nunez (Aldolpho) appeared. His dedication to the fine details of his character, such as the faux Latin accent and vaudeville manner of performing, was just as impressive as his superb comedic timing. Another standout comedic performance was found in Bria Weisz (Kitty) as well as Jack Coyne (Feldzieg). Weisz and Coyne had fantastic chemistry which allowed them to create many entertaining moments when together.

Ben Snider and Alex Essig (The Gangsters) are also worth mentioning. From their threatening quips to pastry puns, the two of them captured the essence of the typical 1920’s gangster. The two led the ensemble in the grand number “Toledo Surprise.” While the two of them maintained commitment to their character and energy in the show, other performers appeared to be disconnected from the production. Despite some lackluster moments, the performer’s must be applauded for their endurance against some troubles such as mic and feedback issues.

All in all, Saint Andrew’s The Drowsy Chaperone was a recipe of comedy, romance, and extreme characters. It “cannoli” be described as tasteful and that was perfectly “eclair”!

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Wedding bells were ringing this weekend in the auditorium of St. Andrews School as their production of the hit musical The Drowsy Chaperone took to the stage.

A fairly recent musical, The Drowsy Chaperone appeared on the Broadway stage in 2006 and won an impressive five Tony Awards. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone has delighted musical theater lovers with its spoofs of classic 1920’s Broadway shows. Complete with non-threatening gangsters, a desperate Broadway impresario, an ethnic lover, a talented female ingénue, and many other stock characters, the show is famous for poking fun at productions of the past.

Cristian Cano plays Man in Chair, the Broadway obsessed recluse who plays his favorite musical soundtrack for the audience. As the soundtrack plays, the musical is brought to life right before his eyes. Cano narrates the performance, tweaking and commenting on his favorite musical throughout the entire production. With abundant stage time, Cano successfully steered the show in the right direction. Naveen Sharma plays the doe eyed oil tycoon Robert Martin. Sharma executed impressive dance, vocal, and even roller skating skills, showcased in his delightful numbers “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”

The cast committed to their stereotypical characters throughout the performance. Jorge Nunez played the Latin lover Aldolpho, complete with cape, cane, and ridiculous accent. With his hilarious expressions and physicality, Nunez embodied the seductive, yet dim-witted Aldolpho. Making certain the audience would not forget him, Nunez belted the name of his character in the narcissistic number “I Am Aldolpho,” cementing the memory of the lovable Latino in the minds of the audience. Jack Coyne played Feldzeig, the overwhelmed Broadway producer who can make a star out of anybody. Coyne not only had impressive comedic ability, but also outstanding tap dancing skills. Petra Marie Edwards as the title character Drowsy Chaperone was also extraordinary. Alcohol in hand, Edwards commanded the stage with her relaxed yet fierce attitude in her stand out number “As We Stumble Along.”

The set impressively allowed for an entire musical to take place in one man’s apartment. Clever construction techniques turned walls into beds and refrigerator doors into entryways. The set changes were swift and non-distracting, and the lighting ranged from a pleasant yellow to a deep blue. Sound and mic inconsistencies occasionally overwhelmed the performance. Despite this, the cast did not miss a beat, note, or line.

The Drowsy Chaperone celebrates musical theater, while simultaneously making fun of the various quirks and clichés the genre has rightfully accumulated over the years. St. Andrews production of The Drowsy Chaperon succeeded in bring this “musical within a comedy” to life, proving that with music, there are no sad endings.

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By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

With romance, show business, and baking gangsters, “one cannoli hope” they saw The Drowsy Chaperone at Saint Andrew’s Upper School this weekend, a show that left the audience kneading more.

Originally a series of racy jokes among friends at the bachelor party of Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaf, The Drowsy Chaperone developed into a more erudite spoof of American musicals of the 1920’s that first graced the Broadway stage on May 1, 2006.The production ran for well over a year, receiving five Tony awards and many other renowned recognitions by the time of its closing. This show within a show entails a Broadway enthusiast, identified as Man in Chair, admiringly describing the plot of his favorite show which humorously takes on the namesake of the actual production. As he listens to the soundtrack, Man in Chair watches his imagination solidify into an illusion of the show in his own living room, portraying the story of Janet Van De Graaf, a star who intends to give up her show business career for marriage, and Robert Martin, who causes Van De Graff to question the validity of his love. Throughout the melodramatic course of their relationship, Man in Chair provides quirky commentary, relating himself to the audience.

Saint Andrew’s production captured the humor of this exaggerated show exceedingly well. The chemistry between characters presented itself in the comedic timing, which contributed to the believability of the relationships and the sustained high level of energy among the principal roles. This comicality appeared in many of the smaller group numbers and, occasionally, was made even more impressive by the inclusion of tap dancing.

The authenticity of the plot was emphasized by the constant engagement of Cristian Cano as Man in Chair, who remained present on stage throughout the entire show. His significant involvement in the story supported the character development of the central roles, particularly with Robert Martin, played by Naveen Sharma. Sharma’s multitude of vocal, tapping, and roller skating talents were given dimensions by Man in Chair’s evident fondness of the character.

Much of the production’s success can be credited to Petra Marie Edwards for her captivating portrayal of The Drowsy Chaperone. Her suave, jazzy presence on stage contrasted with the consistently elevated energy of the rest of the cast and created a depth between characters that became almost tangible during her first entrance into the realm of the show. Throughout several offsetting complications with microphone feedback, Edwards impressively never lost her refined stage presence. Her affluence reached its pinnacle during her first encounter with Aldolpho, played by the hysterical Jorge Nunez. The two played off of each other’s dissimilar forms of comedy, constructing a priceless romance between an overly emotive narcissist and dry alcoholic.

Saint Andrew’s Upper School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone encapsulated the overly histrionic elements necessary to achieve such a comedic show. The cast and crew undoubtedly contributed discernable effort in developing the eccentric and humorous relationships that furthered the storyline, always allowing ample opportunity for a good laugh. In vocal or physicality aspects where some characters struggled, their counterparts excelled, giving balance to each romance, keeping interests high, and reminding everyone that love is always lovely in the end.

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

“Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding!” Wedding bells are ringing at Saint Andrew’s School in their energetic performance of The Drowsy Chaperone!

Alone in his living room, a Man In Chair puts the needle down on his favorite record. Soon, the eccentric bustle of the 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone fills the apartment. As the soundtrack plays, the musical comes to life on stage, telling the story of an unsure bride, an aloof groom, and their diverse, messy company. The musical, with a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, has been praised since it debuted on Broadway in May of 2006, winning 5 Tony Awards and 7 Drama Desk Awards.

Cristian Cano, as Man In Chair, was consistently engaged throughout the whole performance. His character brought a comforting sentimentality to the show. Petra Marie Edwards, as the Drowsy Chaperone, brightened the stage with booming vocals and a strong presence. In her powerful solo, “As We Stumble Along,” she captured the glamorous charm of her character with her resilient vocals and beautiful physicality. With a swing of her glass, she captured the audience’s interest and adoration. Her passion made up for the disinterest expressed by other cast members.

Janet Van De Graaf and Robert Martin, played by Dominique Monserrat and Naveen Sharma respectively, brought an excellent chemistry to the show. Monserrat, portraying a confused, naïve girl, created a strong connection between herself and the audience. Sharma displayed incredible vocals and successful dance capabilities in songs like “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.” Jack Coyne, as the helpless producer Feldzieg, displayed incredible character work. He showed constant engagement, and his relationship with an aspiring star, Kitty, had audience members laughing from start to finish. Bria Weisz, playing Kitty, excellently executed her role as the spotlight-loving wannabe. Her consistent accent and her lovable presence elevated her performance and made her comedic moments all the better.

Portraying a humorous European stereotype, Aldolpho, Jorge Nuñez received more laughs than anyone else. His physicality and vocals in numbers such as, “I Am Aldolpho,” helped to cement his hilarity and appeal. Colleen Raymond and Brendan Assaf, as Mrs. Tottendale and Underling respectively, brought out an incredible chemistry on stage. Raymond’s outstanding vocals and Assaf’s witty one-liners brought their performance to a new level. Their rendition of “Love Is Always Lovely In the End,” filled with stellar vocal displays and believable motions, wowed the audience. Alex Watson (George) and Stephanie Grau (Trix) made strong impressions, both displaying quality vocals and engagement.

The ensemble aided greatly in the show. Ben Snider and Alex Essig, as the Gangster duo, pulled laughter out of every onlooker, with their well-executed puns and excellent comedic timing. While some cast members often seemed messy in their execution, the energy of others maintained the glow of the performance.

The tech elements of the show added to the show’s appeal. Although the orchestra was sometimes overpowering, many actors made up for it in their crisp pronunciation and appropriate volume.

Through a riveting performance, the students at Saint Andrew’s School transported their audience into the beautiful world of The Drowsy Chaperone.


By Amanda Jimenez of The Sagemont School

A seductive Latino casanova, gangsters dressed as bakers in disguise, a perpetually confused hostess, an anxious producer, a wannabe actress, and a wedding- What more could anyone hope for in a musical? Saint Andrew’s School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone was a charmingly hilarious extravaganza that left audience members laughing and tapping their feet along to the music throughout the entire show.

The Drowsy Chaperone, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, is a classic show-within-a-show musical. A man in a chair plays a record of his favorite Broadway musical, the fictional 1928 comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, and narrates as the musical recording comes to life on stage. It is the wedding day of the famed actress Janet Van De Graaf and her fiancé Robert Martin, an oil tycoon. Janet is ready to leave her successful Broadway career behind and settle down, much to the horror of her producer, Feldzieg, who is pressured to stop the wedding in order to save his show and please a threatening investor. Hilarity ensues as the effort to sabotage the wedding does not go quite as planned.

Saint Andrew’s School’s production did not disappoint. There was never a dull moment on stage, as the actors constantly commanded attention. Cristian Cano (Man in Chair) charmed as he guided the audience into the world of The Drowsy Chaperone. Cristian offered a refreshing comedic relief from the over the top spectacle unfolding on stage. Especially memorable were Jorge Nuñez (Aldolpho) and Jack Coyne (Feldzieg) whom dazzled with their exceptional characterization and comedic timing. Petra Marie Edwards (The Drowsy Chaperone), Bria Weisz (Kitty), and Naveen Sharma (Robert Martin) also stood out for their dedication to character choices and unwavering charisma. Some actors were not committed to their roles and were not as engaged in what was going on around them. At times, some of the actors’ voices wavered as they sang and fell a bit off key. A few actors had a hard time keeping up with the choreography and fell behind pace as they danced. There were issues with the microphones on many occasions, resulting in actor’s microphones turning off, static, and loud noises reverberating through the theatre. All of the actors handled these disruptions with poise and soldiered through.

Overall, Saint Andrew’s School’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone was a fun and enjoyable experience made complete with a lively cast, a fantastic live orchestra, hilarious jokes, and dazzling musical numbers. It’s something for when you’re feeling blue, ya know?
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Review of Pride and Prejudice at North Broward Preparatory School on Friday, 10/16/2015.

By Kelly Blauschild of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

PridealgJane Austen once wrote, “Where there is a real superiority of mind, pride will be always under good regulation.” Perhaps she wasn’t speaking of North Broward Preparatory School, but she may well have been; their production of Pride and Prejudice proved nothing short of such praise.

Pride and Prejudice, set in rural England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, tells the heartwarming tale of two acquaintances who overcome social bias to fall in love. This performance was that of Helen Jerome’s adaptation for modern theatre, circa 1935. It was based on the Jane Austen novel of the same title, which rose to high acclaim after being published in 1813. Austen’s story emphasizes timeless themes that are still prevalent today, such as love, marriage, family, and class. These themes are what allow Austen’s literature to retain notoriety regardless of age.

Although the show reaches far beyond the maturity of most teenagers, the actors approached it with honor. The commendable rapport within the cast and crew verified the respect that the members had for one another.

Elizabeth Bennet (Tommi Rose) is the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice– a sweetheart with an intelligent edge. Rose managed to mirror the infamous wit of Elizabeth with ease. One notable aspect of her performance was her consistent British accent. While some characters struggled to speak with the poise often associated with old English, Rose’s speech was genuine and unfaltering. Her “good girl” demeanor contrasted strikingly with her arrogant counterpart, Mr. Darcy (Neil Goodman). Having been nominated for multiple Cappies in the past, Goodman is no stranger to the theatre. He undoubtedly held his reign of the high school drama hierarchy with this successful portrayal of the egocentric Darcy. Goodman showed a strong control and understanding of his character through his speech and physicality. He approached each scene with focus, exerting fierce diction and projection. His cold gestures and harsh posture accurately reflected his cruel character. Also evident was his energy, which kept the audience captivated even in moments of silence. The chemistry between Rose and Goodman was apparent, and both actors reached their peak in the confrontational scene in which Darcy proposes to Elizabeth. Goodman’s dynamic skill heightened at this point; his pained confession of affection showed that though his love for Elizabeth had helped him evolve, it was not yet strong enough to overcome his internalized narcissism.

Lydia Bennet (Jennifer Carter) caught the audience’s attention gracefully, and without overshadowing “larger” characters. Carter portrayed her age as the youngest sister with absolute clarity. Her development into Mrs. Wickham hinted at her naiveté and exemplified his predatory nature. Carter’s characterization allowed her presence to be felt long after she had physically left the stage. Lydia and Elizabeth, along with Jane Bennet (Samantha Hodes), illustrated the beautiful and complicated chemistry involved in sisterhood. Though the comedy of Mr. Collins (Samuel Kelly-Cohen) was not particularly integral to the plot, the audience received his humor well and certainly appreciated his addition to the show.

Despite some lingering set changes, the play ran smoothly. There were minor microphone errors at times, but the actor’s perseverance through the technical difficulties minimized any distraction they might have caused.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Pride and Prejudice demonstrated intellect and finesse, offering a fine tribute to Austen’s classic tale.

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

When your first priority in life is to be married by thirty, arrogant pessimists, awkward cousins, and kindhearted abandoners may just qualify as fantastic matrimonial candidates. North Broward Preparatory School’s lively production of Pride and Prejudice had all the bachelorettes of 1813 England weighing their options.

Adapted to the Broadway stage by Helen Jerome in 1936, Jane Austen’s classic novel was brought to life with this faithful and intelligent adaption. Although Jerome’s Pride and Prejudice has not made its mark on the modern Great White Way, high school theaters continue to undertake the spirited, yet sentimental comedy. Pride and Prejudice demonstrates the class struggles and societal pressures of early 19th century England, while also telling one of the most cherished love stories of all time.

Neil Goodman plays the attractive but extremely judgmental Mr. Darcy, mindful of his social status. Goodman executed an impressive range of emotion as Mr. Darcy transformed into an affectionate and caring gentleman. With impeccable inflection and dominating stage presence, Goodman captured the role of Mr. Darcy and never let go. Tommi Rose plays the witty and independent Elizabeth Bennet, object of Mr. Darcy’s desires. Rose never failed to have chemistry with her fellow actors. From hilariously awkward marriage proposals to sweet interactions with her older sister, it was clear that Rose had completely embodied her character.

Sharon Hammer brought a whirlwind of energy to the performance as the frivolous and emotional Mrs. Bennet. With an unwavering British accent and a perfectly high pitched wail, Hammer was devoted to her character. When you’re on the hunt for love why not consider your own cousin? Samuel Kelly-Cohen plays the uncoordinated Mr. Collins, cousin of the three Bennet sisters. Cohen had impressive comedic timing and was committed to the awkward stature and personality of his unique character. Samantha Hodes plays Jane, the beautiful but humble eldest Bennet sister. Hodes brought a touching quality to Jane as she expressed her sorrows to her aunt and excitement to her younger sister with poignant intimacy. The melodious string quintet underscored the actors throughout the performance, heightening the romantic atmosphere.

The set invited us into 19th century British ballrooms and drawing rooms, adorned with paintings and large windows. Although some elevated set pieces intended to be used in later acts were visible to the audience, this did not take away the impressive quality and detailed construction of the piece when they ultimately descended onto the stage. The microphones were consistent and coherent with very little volume fluctuation or error. While some actors had difficulty expressing the seniority of their characters, the makeup application successfully differentiated the various ages. With period dance and costumes, the performance completely transported the audience 202 years into the past.

Pride and Prejudice is more than just the assigned reading stuffed at the bottom of a high schooler’s backpack. The story is a relevant depiction of a women who is not willing to forfeit her integrity to conform to her society. North Broward Preparatory School should feel nothing but pride for their splendid production.

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By Taylor Fish of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

While girls throughout England fantasize their futures with men they have yet to meet, Elizabeth Bennet could not be the least bit concerned in North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Pride and Prejudice.

Originally a beloved Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and made its way to the Broadway stage on November 6, 1935 as a stage adaptation written by Helen Jerome. The story embarks in 19th century England with Elizabeth, the highly sarcastic and exceedingly headstrong daughter of the Bennet family, who demonstrates indifference towards each suitor that arrives at the Bennet residence in search of a bride among the family’s three daughters. When Elizabeth encounters a wealthy suitor with an unsociable disposition named Mr. Darcy, she develops an aversion to his presence that vindicates the concepts of love, social division, and family.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production splendidly displayed these themes through their apparent captivation of the story. Understanding of this historical piece was aided by the intent focus of each member of the cast as they casually chatted at the ball, nonchalantly dusted the Bennets’ furniture, or outwardly disputed with their counterparts. Every performer presented themselves as actively engaged throughout each scene they appeared in, and this brought further enthrallment with the storyline.

Great commendation is deserved by Tommi Rose and Neil Goodman, who portrayed Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, respectively. The chemistry between these two actors overflowed to the point where it seemed almost tangible. Both of these leading performers brought an entirely different aura to the plot with each appearance they made, providing a cutting seriousness to add to the charming humor of the rest of the characters. The lengthy pauses of contemplation that both Rose and Goodman incorporated into their deliveries offered a weight to the words of the script that the quicker spoutings of lines lacked. This significant change in pacing gave the production a variety that complimented the audience’s understanding.

Much of the lighthearted humor of the show can be credited to Samuel Kelly-Cohen for his portrayal of Mr. Collins. His eccentric interpretation as a twitchy man who is unaware of personal boundaries offered a hysterical physicality that intensified the fluctuations between comedy and drama in the show. Though Kelly-Cohen quite literally went head-over-heels for his commitment to portraying the bizarre character, several performers in the show lacked serious conviction in the delivery of their lines, distracting from the entrancement they captivated the audience with previously.

While the stage appeared so beautifully lavished with intricate set pieces and appropriate properties for this era of England, complications arose with the length of the transitions between scenes. Many of the blackouts lasted an uneasy amount of time as the audience watched the shadows of the crew members place tables, chairs, tea sets, and other various constructions into their destinations. The amount of tasks the crew needed to accomplish during each transition seemed extensive, and this created a problematic aspect for the show.

The sophistication of Pride and Prejudice is far greater than that of the typical high school play, and the cast and crew of this production merits admirable recognition for accomplishing such a grand task. With generally authentic accents and clear diction, the performers of this show successfully made a complexly witty English script clear in its plot and intentions to the audience. North Broward Preparatory should definitely feel the utmost pride.

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By Erin Cary of NSU University School

Status, wealth, love, and family – concepts that have riddled intelligent minds for centuries. In an elegant and sentimental performance, the students at North Broward Preparatory School tackled these notions, bringing to life the classic story of Pride and Prejudice.

In the early 1800s English countryside, a family of young, eligible daughters each fight for a marriage that will gain them a high position in society. The only girl not inclined to wed is the regal and educated Elizabeth Bennet. Originally an 1813 novel by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice grapples with the significance of love and status. Adapted into a theatrical format by Helen Jerome, the play premiered on Broadway in 1935.

The dedication of the lead actors enamored the audience from start to finish. Tommi Rose spectacularly bore the acumen and independence of Elizabeth Bennet, while still conveying Elizabeth’s compassion and kindness. Even in silent moments, her face captured the resilience and curiosity of her character, seizing the audience’s interest. Displaying much of the same constant engagement, Neil Goodman crafted a strong and compelling character. He expressed a clear arch in Mr. Darcy, developing noticeably in passion and boldness as the show progressed. The two leads worked together to create an authentic connection between their characters, palpable in almost every scene between them.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Cameron Glass and Sharon Hammer respectively) also brought a refreshing air to the performance. Glass broadcasted a skillfully-crafted fatherly identity with a touching care for his daughters, evident in his movements and vocal tones. Samantha Hodes, as Jane Bennet, wonderfully expressed the greater subtleties of a shy and quiet character. With her hesitant disposition, she brought a unique likeability to a well-deserving role. Samuel Kelly-Cohen produced some comic relief as the snooty Mr. Collins. His unusual movements and characteristics provoked laughter from the audience, and he consistently maintained his humorous persona.

Jennifer Carter as the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, successfully depicted both her age and her development throughout the show. When Lydia was wed, the audience clearly saw the soar in confidence through Carter’s new boldness of voice and exaggerated gestures. Carmen Horn excellently portrayed the villainous Miss Bingley. Her embellished motions and impactful vocal intonations made her the woman that everyone loves to hate. Caroline Skuta and Sam Fishman, as Lady Catherine De Bourgh and Colonel Guy Fitzwilliam respectively, composed strong and believable roles, using subtle changes in character disposition to bring different elements to their scenes. The maids, as well, did a spectacular job in bringing humor and new rudiments to many scenes. While some lines were garbled or weakened because of poor pacing, the cast members spoke constantly with convincing English accents. The sincerity of many of these characters also helped to make up for any lack of conviction in others’ lines.

The show’s program elegantly displayed the hard work of the publicity team, beautifully encapsulating the essence of the show. While some characters’ makeup appeared over-exaggerated, the 1800s hairstyles served excellently to maintain the time period. The orchestra, without many songs, conquered their pieces successfully.

By the end of the show, the audience had enjoyed three acts of delight, fear, and humor. Thanks to a wonderful cast and crew, the viewers gained a new understanding of the sins of pride and prejudice.

Review of the April 4, 2015 performance of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Suncoast Community High School

By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

How does J. Pierrepont Finch, a man not with the dust on the bottom of the shoes of the businessmen who bustle around inside the building that he washes, manage to become chairman of the company’s board in a matter of days? He follows the instructions of a very handy guidebook, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Finch’s rapid rise to corporate heights is documented in a musical, performed by Suncoast Community High School.

With the the 1952 novel, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” by Shepherd Mead in mind, Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert, and musician and lyricist Frank Loesser created the Tony winning musical about a lowly window washer who scrambles up the corporate ladder with his self help book on “how to succeed” to guide him. The show opened in 1961 and ran for over a thousand subsequent performances and has since inspired a movie and two recent revivals.

Kyle Cortes’ (J. Pierrepont Finch) voice fit the musical’s style well and Justin Rubenstein (Bud Frump) demonstrated remarkable comedic control over his performance. His portrayal of the president’s good-for-nothing-nephew showed complete understanding of Bud’s motivations. This was portrayed through clear characterization and vocal skill. However, out of the principal characters, Samantha Bashwiner (Smitty) gave the most believable performance, and showed the most character development.

Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue) portrayed her character with consistent energy. Mackenley Ria (Twimble) featured the history of the man who had been head of the mail room for so long in just one scene. He appeared to be highly involved in his performance although the cast as a whole lacked energy.

Despite problems with the spot light, the lighting design was extremely complex and well thought out and enhanced the mood of the show. There seemed to be an overarching technical vision that was inspired by the windows of an office building.

“How to Succeed in Business,” loved by all generations since its inception, demonstrates the timeless message of American ambition to make it to the top.

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By Juliette Romeus of Stoneman Douglas High School

Who knew the way to succeed in a business was just by reading a handy book? Suncoast Community High School’s production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying took everyone along on an exhilarating ride as a plain window washer slyly climbs up the corporate ladder.

Based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book by the same name, a Broadway musical came to life in October 1961. With a Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, and Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser, the production won seven Tony Award and also had the honor of winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The immense success led to a film being produced in 1967 and two Broadway revivals. The story follows window washer J. Pierrepont Finch, who comes across a manual that teaches him how to easily climb up in a big- time business. As Finch maneuvers to get to the highest position he can, he leaves a trail of admirers and jealous enemies in his wake.

Leading the show as J. Pierrepont Finch, Kyle Cortes smoothly charmed everyone with his strong vocals. Blending nicely with the style of music, Cortes sung difficult notes with ease. Supporting Cortes were Samantha Bashwiner and Justin Rubenstein, respectively portraying the roles of Smitty and Bud Frump. Bashwiner had an excellent stage presence; her bright character captivating the scenes she was in. Rubenstein’s sharp comedic timing and hilarious voice inflections strongly stood out, especially in his character’s “seizures” and temper tantrums.

Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue), with her consistent character accent and quirks also positively stood out , alongside Mackenley Ria (Twimble) with his sharp and confident dance movements.

The ensemble was an important factor in this show, and their steady high energy brought life to the scenes they all participated with. The harmonies in songs such as “Cinderella Darling” and “I Believe in You” were clear and powerful. Although they sometimes lost their synchronization with the live student orchestra, they quickly recovered and continued without a hitch.

Technically, the costumes were colorful and time period appropriate. Although some characters were lacking aging makeup, the younger characters’ makeup were all clear and nice.

Suncoast Community High School’s production of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying reminds us all that hard work and perseverance can get you anywhere you want in life- nothing is impossible!

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By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Suits, secretaries, and secrets. Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” showed audiences how to live the company way.

Shepherd Mead’s satirical book “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” had businessmen laughing and Broadway producers brainstorming. The musical adaptation of Mead’s mock self-help manual opened on Broadway in 1961. With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, the musical was a massive success, winning seven Tony awards. With multiple revivals that starred big names like Daniel Radcliffe, Darrin Criss, and Matthew Broderick, the musical has stayed relevant throughout the decades.

In Suncoast’s production, Kyle Cortes played the deceptively charming J. Pierrepont Finch, whose dream is to climb the corporate ladder all the way to the top. Cortes flashed a winning smile and sang a catchy tune as he transformed from a lowly window washer to chairman of the board. From the moment he descended by swing onto the stage at the top of act one, all the way to curtain call, he executed impressive vocal ability. Rhiannon Karp played Rosemary Pilkington, the love-struck fiancé of Finch. Karp was expressive and vocally consistent as she declared her devotion to Finch throughout the performance.

Just about every musical written in the 1930s to the 1960s has a female character with a high-pitched, squeaky voice and a stylish wardrobe. This show being no exception, Tegan Mills strutted the stage as bombshell would-be secretary Hedy Larue. Loud, ditsy, and shameless, Mills was completely devoted to her beloved stereotype. Commanding the stage, Mills provided hilarious moments that contributed to the whirling plot twists. Bud Frump is the nephew of the president of the company and a true mama’s boy. His whiny and egocentric persona was portrayed without flaw by Justin Rubenstein in various scene stealing moments. Although microphones faltered at times, the actors remained coherent throughout the performance. There were some moments when set or costume changes ran over time. This was expertly dealt with by the student orchestra, who continued to play the music without any hesitation.

The set provided a convincing and aesthetically pleasing office environment, complete with elevators and large company logos adorning the walls. The set seamlessly transformed to that of a rooftop, washroom, and meeting room. The ensemble was energetic and cohesive, performing polished dance moves in the songs “Brotherhood of Man” and “Coffee Break.”

It was clear that Suncoast High School’s “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” did in fact try to make this production one to remember. With coffee cups in hand and typewriters at fingertips, they ultimately succeeded.

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By Kelsey Powers of Boca Raton Community High School

From the first cup of morning coffee until the elevator ride downstairs at the end of the day, having an office job can be incredibly predictable. But in Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”, one young employee skyrockets his way up the corporate ladder and nothing happens according to plan.

“How to Succeed…”, written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, ran for three and a half years on Broadway and won seven 1962 Tony awards. The plot is centered on J. Pierrepont Finch, a window-washer who follows instructions from a book to rise from the mailroom to the boardroom of the World Wide Wicket Company.

Suncoast’s production of “How to Succeed…” was defined by the vocal abilities of its entire cast and the overall smooth technical aspects, such as timely scene changes and thematic lighting, that kept the audience immersed in the story throughout the performance.

Kyle Cortes, as J. Pierrepont Finch, provided a solid backbone for the production, engrossing the audience in his wit, charm, and aspirations. Rhiannon Karp, as Finch’s romantic interest and sometimes-secretary Rosemary Pilkington, emulated the characteristic vocal qualities of the 1960s, adding to the period integrity of the production as a whole.

The rest of the cast, though lacking energy at times, delivered admirable performances. Most notable among them were Tegan Mills (Hedy Larue), who hit each note and joke effortlessly, and Mackenley Ria (Twimble), who was clearly an experienced dancer and was never seen without an energetic expression on his face.

Technically, “How to Succeed…” was polished with overall quick transitions owing to the skill of the fly operators and stage crew. Apart from occasional issues with microphone levels, the sound balance was also impressive for a show using a live orchestra. Lighting effects helped to create the mood for different scenes, but sometimes left actors shadowed or completely in the dark during a song.

Witty, toe-tapping, and truly enjoyable, Suncoast Community High School’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” was a challenge well met by the cast and crew. No coffee was needed to perk the audience up after they left the theater, perhaps even looking forward to the workweek.

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By Hillary Corniel of West Boca High School

With the help of a book, one man goes from washing windows to becoming chairman of the board, Suncoast High School tells us the true story of how this man climbs the ladder of success in just a few weeks!

Based on the original book written by Shepherd Mead, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” became a bestseller in the 1950’s. Then a few years later, playwrights Willie Gilbert, Jack Weinstock created a dramatic interpretation and got the attention of agent Abe Burrows who, with the help of Frank Loesser, pieced the show all together!

Suncoast’s production was wonderful, the ensemble was integral to this show. The show ran smoothly and every cast member was in character and never seemed detached. Each new face that appeared brought a refreshing presence to the stage. The vocals in this show were absolutely amazing, with each harmony came a rush of chills.

1. Pierrepont Finchb(Kyle Cortes) a young, ambitious man tries to rise from his window washing position all the way to the top at the World Wide Wicket Company with some help from the book How to Succeed. When first starting at the company, Finch meets the lovely woman, Rosemary Pilkington (Rhiannon Karp), a secretary, who at the sight of Finch instantly falls in love. Cortes and Karp both had great, organic energy with each other and by the end their relationship really grew.

J.B. Biggley (Shemar Crawford) is the president of the World Wide Wicket Company and at first was very displeased with Mr. Finch, but soon grew to love him since they “shared” so many common interests. Seeing Mr. Finch becoming so friendly with everyone and already moving up the business ladder only being there for such a short period of time, Bud Frump(Justin Rubenstein) the nephew of Mr. Biggley, tries to stop Mr. Finch on his path to success. Crawford and Rubenstein were hilarious, they had such big characters but never over did it.

The set was simple, yet provided the many aspects that a big company building might have. With lots of doors and an elevator, they really used with set to their advantage. The costumes and make-up were great for the time period and helped create the atmosphere of an office building in the 1960s style.

Suncoast’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” was a heartwarming and humorous show.

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Reviews of As Bees in Honey Drown performed at Western High on Thursday, 3/19/2015

By Thomas Neira of Stoneman Douglas High School

“You are not the person you were born? Who wonderful is?” The mantra of those who aspire to achieve fame and glory leads to such an intricate knot of schemes and lies that the only thing certain is that Western High School’s performance of “As Bees in Honey Drown” is a must-see!

The 1997 satirical comedy written by American playwright Douglas Carter Beane follows a “hot young” writer who gets scammed by a fabulous con artist. Turns out, he wasn’t the first to fall into her trap and thus begins a fight of pure conviction and wit that determines who gets the last laugh. A critical hit in New York’s West Village, the play received an Outer Critics Circle Award for the script and J. Smith-Cameron received an Obie Award for playing Alexa Vere de Vere.

Jillian Ramunno as the ambitious and glamorous Alexa Vere de Vere perfectly portrayed the insatiable attitude of the wannabe socialite. Ramunno’s over-the-top mannerisms, yet overall collected composure, caused the line between reality and imagination to blur, and it was impossible to tell when the great con artist was telling the truth. Leading alongside her was Bruno Enciso, who as Evan Wyler brought an entirely different aspect to the play. Rather than fabricate lies, the down-to-earth writer sought to uncover truth and Enciso remarkably brought him to life. Enciso’s commitment to the role was apparent and his awareness of the other characters on stage made for a truly believable performance.

Grant Brecheisen playing Alexa Vere de Vere’s not-so-dead friend Mike Stabinsky made the most out of the stage time he had and provided a genuine performance. With his charisma and true understanding of the role, he embodied the down-to-earth artist. Trent Hampel as Morris Kaden gave an equally enjoyable performance commanding attention and respect as the powerful executive, but showing a comedic side. Dominating the comedic aspect of the show were John Ortega, Elan Lewis, and Ami Idowy as Ronald, Ginny Cameron, and the Secretary, respectfully. Ortega caused an uproar with his distinguishable antics and overall hilarious interpretation of a Saks 5th Avenue tailor. Lewis’ relatable timidity and lively acting made for an entertaining performance, and Idowy’s stubborn conviction made her character amusing.

The appropriate and magnificent set transported the audience into the world of creativity and art. The Pop Art and incorporation of a screen enhanced the performance to make it more enjoyable. Although there was a clear difficulty hearing some of the characters wearing microphones, the convoluted plot was still understood.

Overall, Western High School’s rendition of “As Bees in Honey Drown” was a success. With hard-work and dedication from the cast, the struggle to find fame and create a new identity was well made.

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By Matthew Gavan of Pope John Paul II High School

The chance of achieving wealth and fame can disrupt the focus one places on their desires and their craft. Western High School’s production of “As Bees In Honey Drown” walks this blurred line between Art and Life.

Written by Douglas Carter Beane, “As Bees In Honey Drown” opened in June, 1997 in New York City. The show moved to the Lucille Lortel Theater where it won an Outer Critics Circle Award for playwriting and an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actress. The story places you in the shoes of Even Wyler, an up and coming New York Writer, who,after being featured in a magazine,is approached by Alexa Vere de Vere, a con artist claiming to be a record producer. After being conned, Evan attempts to exact revenge as sweet as honey.

Bruno Enciso, playing by Evan Wyler, did a great job in handling the dynamic aspects of his character. Bruno expressed a variety of emotions and naturally transitioned from the vulnerable and exploited Evan to the driven Evan who pursues his revenge relentlessly. Along with emotional expressions, Bruno’s physicality was fitting for his character.

Alexa Vere de Vere, played by Jillian Ramunno, is an over the top character and Jillian provided exactly that. While projection was lacking and certain actions seemed unnecessary, Jillian’s attention the details of her character overshadowed these flaws. With her larger than life behavior and dramatic body language, Killian successfully portrayed the theatric con who has grown accustomed to getting her way.

Among the many genuine characters, Moris Kaden, played by Trent Hampel, was the most memorable. From physicality to the style of speaking, Trent created a very accurate portrayal of the rigid businessman who has learned from past mistakes. Grant Brecheisen also did very well as the painter Mike Stabinski. Although there were technical issues concerning Grant’s projection, he managed to suffer through the issue and showed an abundance of energy when onstage.

The set was designed in a pop art style and had a vast array of vibrant colors. An image at the back of stage informed the audience which scene was to begin and placed a piece of art that reflected the events of the scene. Noticeable issues with microphones were kept to a minimum and smooth rhythmic songs were used to enhance the atmosphere during scene changes. What the stage crew, run by Isabella Cring, lacked in speed they made up for in quietness and preciseness. The transitions occurred smoothly and the music being played prevented the length of the changes from being distracting.

Every individual character in the cast brought unique styles and energy to their characters resulting in a diverse show. With these unique characters and the chaos that ensues from the differing personalities, Western High School’s production of As Bees In Honey Drown provided the balanced combination of both comedic and dramatic moments of the show that taught the audience the importance of both Life and Art.

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By Samantha Grubner of Suncoast Community High School

A juxtaposition of life and art, “As Bees in Honey Drown” challenges what is artificial compared to what is carefully derived. Western High School’s production of “As Bees in Honey Drown” managed to present both life and art in a modern setting that captivated audiences and showcased the cast’s deep appreciation for modern theatre.

With book by Douglas Carter Beane, the satirical comedy was first shown in New York City in June, 1997. After a month of successful performances, the production moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village, where it continued to enthrall audiences for a year. Beane won an Outer Critics Circle Award for his writing, and J. Smith-Cameron won an Obie Award for playing Alexa.

“As Bees in Honey Drown” follows Evan Wyler, an up and coming novelist, as he is pulled into the ploys of the incomparable Alexa Vere de Vere, a self made con-artist. As Act One concludes, Evan has given his all to Alexa only to realize that her greed for fame and adventure outweighed any love that she confessed for him. Act Two expresses Evan’s passion for revenge for Alexa.

Jillian Ramunno (Alexa Vere de Vere) delivered a compelling performance as she transformed into a character who is driven entirely by the selfish desire to live the good life. Ramunno consistently portrayed her character, effectively transitioning her character in scenes with flashbacks. Ami Idowu (Secretary) also delivered an applaudable performance, many times bringing a comedic break to scenes that were in need of a chuckle or two.

Bruno Enciso (Evan Wyler) was a clear standout on stage as he delivered a performance that showed both a huge depth of knowledge of his character as well as a firm grasp of the ideals of performance. Grant Brecheisen (Mike Stabinsky) was also a key component of the production’s success as he provided comic relief and delivered a performance that convinced the audience of his character’s wisdom.

The pop art set constantly reminded audience members that this piece is one of sheer artistic expression while at the same time providing a backdrop that was interesting and innovative. A few technical errors did occur, such as the mics being left on backstage, but the actors on stage rose above this setback and projected clearly, keeping audience members attention on them at all times.

Western High Schools production of “As Bees in Honey Drown” left a sweet impression on audience members as the cast delivered a performance that is not soon to be forgotten.

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By Aaron Bourque of South Plantation High School

There’s a reason why con artists are called what they are – between careful manipulation, plotted deception, and classic, calculating charm, the practice is nothing short of an art. Western High School illustrates such artistry in its production of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

Written by Douglas Carter Beane, “As Bees in Honey Drown” centers on scammer Alexa Vere de Vere as she preys on potentially successful people in New York City. Evan Wyler, her current victim, is an up-and-coming writer who has been promised fame and fortune for fulfilling Alexa’s desires of writing a screenplay. It is when Alexa bankrupts him that the art behind scamming is revealed, as well as Evan’s plot for revenge.

Alexa Vere de Vere and Evan Wyler, portrayed by Jillian Ramunno and Bruno Enciso, respectively, demonstrated a unique chemistry onstage that reflected Alexa’s feigned adoration and initial intentions for malice. Ramunno, contrasting between frantic intonation and suave disposition, successfully channeled the sociopathic elements of a raging con artist. Enciso, on the other hand, juxtaposed her performance with convincing naivety and infatuation for Ramunno that made his reversal of fortune all the more heartfelt and palpable. That being said, both Enciso and Ramunno’s characterizations allowed Evan’s act of revenge to be more believable and to ultimately create a sense of “victory” at the end of the play.

Trent Hampel as Morris Kaden and Grant Brecheisen as Mike Stabinsky, past victims of Alexa Vere de Vere, presented interesting dynamics with Enciso. Hampel, between a boastful demeanor and a prideful physicality, easily portrayed the mannerisms of a high powered executive, complete with loud, obnoxious invectives. Brecheisen, on the other hand, masterfully balanced the comedy and gravity of being Alexa’s supposedly “dead husband” with well-timed sarcastic remarks and gestures towards Enciso. Both actors, however, successfully presented distinct, yet memorable, relationships with Alexa Vere de Vere, as told through flashbacks.

Between a nude violinist, a Swedish model, a flamboyant fashionista, and a Mohawk-sporting rocker, the show offers rather zany characters that were portrayed commendably. Elan Lewis as the nude violinist displayed a comical shyness and insecure anxiety that made for a rather interesting photo-shoot. John Ortega as Ronald the fashionista, on the other hand, made for a high-energy comedic relief dominated by ecstatic gestures and entertaining stage business. Although it appeared that some actors had trouble starting dialogue within a large group, it did not greatly hinder the fluidity of the scene.

Although not student designed, the colorful set displayed pictures of iconic New York City landmarks and symbols and truly reflected the “pop art” movement that the show was based on. Although some scene transitions were rather long in length, the music played during them was fitting to the moment of the scene, which helped connect the plotline of the play between scenes.

Although fame and fortune is a proverbial definition of success, Western High School reveals its darker and psychologically taxing consequences in its production of “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

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By Savannah Zona of Boca Raton Community High School

Convivial comedic timing, cocksure con artists, and colorful construction were all a part of Western High School’s production of “As Bees in Honey Drown”. The students brought this satirical play by Douglas Carter Beane to life in a creative and endearing way.

“As Bees in Honey Drown” opened in New York in 1997 and then moved to an off-Broadway playhouse where it graced the stage for an entire year. The show won several awards such as the Outer Critics Circle Award for writing and for lead actress. The story follows a con artist with the alias of Alexa Vere de Vere, who takes advantage of up and coming artists. Her latest victim is a newly published author, Evan Wyler. Alexa impresses Evan with a few lavish purchases and soon after, he begins charging his credit card under the impression that he will be reimbursed, but never is. Ultimately becoming penniless and played, revenge bubbles within Evan and with the help of Alexa’s other victims, he seeks his revenge.

The production as a whole was full of comedy and energy from the whole cast. Even when characters were in the background, they remained cognizant of the scene and continued to react accordingly. However, some distractions occurred due to a few technical elements and by the redundant use of hand gestures by some characters.

Supporting much of the comedic energy of the show was the dynamic crew of band members. Specifically, Caitlyn Castiglione (Back Up Singer 2) was spot on with her comedic timing and relieved much of the dramatic tension of the show with a her hilarious silent facials.

Leading characters, like Bruno Enciso as Evan Wyler, coated the stage with naturalism and motivated physicality. Playing Wyler’s twisted love interest/ultimate betrayer Alexa Vere de Vere, was Jillian Ramunno. Ramunno displayed rightfully artificial characterization and held chemistry with every relationship that the script had intended for her.

In regards to technical elements, the set was very creative. It consisted of a bright LED screen that enhanced location and setting in an innovative way. On the screen were accurate representations of art historical pieces that related directly to major plot points and motifs of the show. Though the historical implements and set design were commendable, scene changes had little fluidity and actors could sometimes be heard from offstage.

As a whole, Western High School’s production gave the audience an important moral to apply to themselves: the craving for fame can consume you, and the hunger for it will devour you just “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

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Reviews of Twelve Angry Jurors performed at St. Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 3/15/2015

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

“12 Angry Jurors” and a packed audience of captivated spectators sat around a heated table in St. Thomas Aquinas’s auditorium, where the fate of a young man accused of murder was discussed enthrallingly at the hands of a thoroughly invested cast.

Originally titled “12 Angry Men” due to a traditionally all-male cast, this play was adapted from a 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose. It opened in London in 1964, and in 2005 its Broadway revival earned a Tony for Best Revival of a Play. The entire play focuses on a post-trial discussion in which twelve jury members must come to a consensus on a homicide case regarding a young man who has been accused of murdering his father; in this trial, a guilty verdict will lead to a mandatory death sentence.

Staged in a theatre-in-the-round style, St. Thomas’s “12 Angry Jurors” had a sense of intimate claustrophobia which was gracefully handled by an ensemble cast that impressively maintained character throughout an hour and a half of uninterrupted dialogue. Although some actors had difficulty in creating distinct, unforced, and well-constructed personas, overall the cast did an impressive job of interpreting their complex source material and kept up a fluid pace throughout.

Kayla Kisseadoo was the driving force behind the production as Juror #8, the juror who challenges an otherwise unanimous guilty verdict at the beginning of the play and forces the others to consider a possible “reasonable doubt.” Kisseadoo perfectly captured the multi-layered, composed pensiveness of her character by finding resonating tension in a calm demeanor. Her dialogue was delivered sharply and naturally, and a clear understanding of her role gave her powerful stage presence.

Other standout performances came from Christine Rowe, who played the initially skeptical Juror #4, and Michael Shelfer, who played the semi-volatile Juror #7. Through confident and well-executed line delivery, both Rowe and Shelfer built organic character arcs that nicely developed the central conflicts of the play. An excellent collective commitment to individualized mannerisms and character development was exemplified in Chiara Montali’s performance as Juror #10. Montali’s facials and physicality were carefully assembled, fabulously executed, and consistently applied to create an extremely distinguished character that stood out despite having a less prominent role.

St. Thomas’s minimalistic set and lighting design was simple but effective in directing the audience’s full attention towards the performances. Aging make-up was inconsistent but impressive when effectively applied, and well-managed city sound effects created a fitting ambiance for the production.

Having modern spectators enjoy a 50 year old play may sound like a difficult task, but St. Thomas’s powerful cast had no trouble in making “12 Angry Jurors” as entertaining as a Judge Judy television marathon and as riveting as an episode of Law and Order. The gavel has struck, the jury has convened, and the audience’s applause speaks an unmistakable verdict: St. Thomas’s latest production was an admirable success way, way beyond reasonable doubt.

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By Kaley Nelson of Plantation High

How would you feel if your life was in the hands of 12 people? How would you feel if you were one of those 12? Well, this is exactly the anxiety-laden situation portrayed in St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of 12 Angry Jurors.

This story was originally coined with the name “12 Angry Men”, and was based off a CBS teleplay from 1954. The story’s entirety takes place inside of a jury room on a hot summer day. The 12 jurors are tasked with determining whether a 19-year-old man is guilty of killing his father — a capital crime. Throughout the play, the audience witnesses the changes each character goes through and the frustration they endure while certain jurors try to incite a unanimous decision out of the rest of the group. The end results in just one very angry man being persuaded to change his vote to “not guilty.” This play received both a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

This cast of just 15 individuals was tasked with bringing this story to life in a most unique way. The show was staged in theatre-in-the-round to create an intimate environment where the audience surrounded the actors. Although this did make it difficult to see the actors’ facial expressions at some points in the story, a couple of actors got up and walked around at crucial parts in the storyline so all members could see and hear what was happening. The staging of the show and the lack of an intermission ultimately did create a more intimate and exhausting environment for both the actors and the audience.

Although some characters failed to make themselves memorable while onstage, Juror #8 (Kayla Kisseadoo) displayed incredibly dynamic characterization. Despite the persecution she experienced from the other jurors, she remained cool and collected, only raising her voice when necessary to emphasize the intensity of the moment. Her characterization was fluid and never faltered, making her a talented protagonist.

Juror #3 (Christian Hernandez) was notable for his intensity and consistent characterization as bitter and thoroughly irritated by anyone who had an opinion opposite of his. His anger was starkly juxtaposed against the rest of the group’s more measured responses, making him stand out as the antagonist of the show. His interactions with Juror #8 were also notable, as they had tension between each other that helped contribute to the frustrated nature of the situation.

The actors, as a whole, displayed mostly consistent characters, making gestures and facial expressions that not only exemplified those often associated with a hot summer’s day, but assisted in rounding out their characters as individuals.

The technical aspects of the show were simple, but contributed to effectively portraying what was going on. Despite there being a few slight audio issues, the sound was clear and concise. There were even sound effects of cars honking and other miscellaneous city noises that really helped to create a more realistic setting for the actors.

Overall, St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s portrayal of 12 Angry Jurors was one that all who attended were guilty of enjoying.

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By Bruno Enciso of Western High

Twelve Reasons to go watch St. Thomas Aquinas’s rendition of 12 ANGRY JURORS:
1. Written by Reginald Rose and adapted by Sherman Sergal 12 ANGRY JURORS won the 2005 Tony Award for best revival and critical acclaim for its commentary on democracy, human nature, and the lingering bias within all of us.

2. Murder. Murder of the first degree has been committed, our “most serious” act against civil society. Accompanied by the most serious consequence of our court system, capital punishment, the life of the alleged perpetrator finds itself balanced on a scale of moral bias. Together, 12 jurors will mope in and out of doubt revealing a fundamental human skepticism that only the audience may determine its existence as for the better or for the worst.

3. Details. St. Thomas’s cast maintained a close attention to detail in their performance especially in the continuity of the summer season and physical effect on the jurors.

4. But you don’t want to hear about seasons; you want to hear about character arc! And there were plenty, at first Kayla Kisseadoo (Juror #8) skepticism burdens the jury- defining herself as a character to stick-up for others. In consistent attitude and appropriately smug posture she champions herself as a strong female role against the arrogance and ignorance of Juror #3.

5. Christian Hernandez (Juror #3). Always stirring, Christian found continuity in his character with volume always peaking in his lines.

6. Michael Shelfer (Juror #7). Michael animated and distinctively characterized juror #7 in mannerisms of toying with pens, delicacy of handling props, and vocal fluctuation in line delivery. Although I suspect the innocence of the teen perpetrator, I’m guilty in admitting Michael’s talent.

7. Development. As the plot thickens and the jury becomes more worn-out so does the audience. This element of the show could only be achieved by the ensemble of jurors acting together as a unit progressively pounding out facts- which they did.

8. Robert Lawlor (Juror #9). Lawlor as this old man entrances the audience with his wisdom and physicality.

9. Staging. Assessing “theater-in-the-round” staging made the whole play very intimate and locked the audience in the room just like the jurors, a very creative element.

10. Comedy? Not really but with the depression of the jurors and the nuance of the show, some lines can’t help but be chuckled at, the cast does a fun job in revealing the ironies present in the script.

11. Drama. At times a bit overdone one must try on purpose to take away the drama from this script and for the most part, Aquinas’s cast had no serious hindering on their performance except a casual microphone error.

12. Relevance. Whether we like it or not, we must- in a democracy- make the sacrifice, must undergo the system- we must all… grudgingly serve on a jury.

So, is there any reasonable doubt you wouldn’t want to see St. Thomas’s production?

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By Maggie Behan of Cardinal Gibbons

A locked room is filled with summer heat, short tempers, differing opinions, and two switchblades — no wonder these jurors are angry. Such is the tenuous situation facing the titular characters of “12 Angry Jurors,” as performed by St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Written in 1954 as a teleplay by Reginald Rose, “12 Angry Jurors” was first adapted for the stage in 1955 and ran on Broadway for 328 performances. The court case being decided by said jurors is whether a young man accused of stabbing his father to death is guilty or not guilty, and the jury flip-flops between these weighty options over the course of one day of deliberation. At the start of the discussion, it’s 11-1, guilty. Soon, however, a pervasive seed of reasonable doubt is planted by the persuasive Juror #8.

With a nearly bare stage surrounded on all sides by the audience, these 12 jurors were under pressure to perform, and they delivered admirably. The cast presented consistent and believable characterization amidst palpable tension, maintaining both their own energy and the audience’s attention despite a largely stationary show consisting of one scene, no breaks.

Kayla Kisseadoo commanded the room as the assertive and analytical Juror #8. With quiet power and intrinsic authority, she propelled the plot through her compelling arguments for reasonable doubt. Foiling off of Kisseadoo’s subtle control was Christian Hernandez as the loud, argumentative, and irrational Juror #3. Hernandez’s cocky and contrary characterization provided an anchor, remaining steady throughout the ever-swaying opinions of the other jurors.

Juror #7, played by Michael Shelfer, exhibited a particularly noteworthy constancy. The flippant #7 was both consistent and consistently real throughout the entirety of the deliberation. Christine Rowe, meanwhile, was ever so cool, calm, and collected as the thoughtfully reasoning Juror #4. Rowe brought refined tension to her interactions with both Juror #8 and Juror #3.

Although approached minimalistically, the virtually nonexistent sets never left anything to be desired. Likewise, sound and lighting were kept simple, but clean and effective. Muted background sounds of everyday life added realism to the already believable performance. Despite the odd booming of the mics, the performers nailed their projection, and not a word was missed.

When a man’s life is at stake, what lengths must you go to in order to unearth evidence of his innocence — or, at the very least, a lack of evidence of his guilt? St. Thomas Aquinas High School investigated this question thoroughly and professionally in their staging of “12 Angry Jurors,” proving that this cast is guilty of nothing but a noteworthy production.

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By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

At St. Thomas Aquinas High School, 12 jurors meet to discuss a trial. A man’s life is in their hands. None of them have anything to gain or lose by giving a verdict, yet this production of “12 Angry Jurors” called their own decency as human beings into question.

Originally portrayed as a 1950s television drama entitled “12 Angry Men” by Reginald Rose, it was adapted into its current version by Sherman Sergel. The story revolves around the personal struggles experienced by those entrusted with a man’s life. As the jurors deliberate, their personal histories, internal conflicts, and raw emotions prevent them from cooperating with each other and from reaching a verdict. With a successful 2004 Broadway revival, this drama accurately shines light on the heavy responsibility placed on jurors everywhere.

Presented by way of theater-in-the-round, audience members were seated on all four sides of the actors to accentuate the tension of the room. Looking past that, the sheer strength of the ensemble created an intimate ambiance between them and the spectators. We were drawn to their dilemma and their angst, especially when this combined with the minimalist set, lighting, and sound utilized. Even the occasional mike problems only added to the heaviness of the show, a heaviness constantly on our minds.

Among such a strong ensemble, the leads were deemed those figuratively acting as the main defense and the main prosecution of the defendant. Juror 8, Kayla Kisseadoo, not only brought life to her character, but gave life to each line she uttered. Armed with her signature phrase, “A man’s life is at stake,” she swayed both the jurors and the audience to see the reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt. In sharp contrast to her poised and polished nature, Juror 3, Christian Hernandez, gave a high energy showing as the hot-headed juror who simply would not listen to reason.

Also standing out were jurors 7 (Michael Shelfer), 4 (Christine Rowe), 9 (Robert Lawlor), and 11 (Veronica Slubowski). Shelfer and Rowe found the highs and lows of their earnest performances with dynamic transformations from guilty to non-guilty verdicts. Lawlor introduced another emotional level to the drama as the older, and sometimes wiser, juror. Meanwhile, Slubowski, as the foreign juror, reminded us all of how fortunate we are to even live in a country where democracy prevails.

Intense and exhaustive, St. Thomas’s production resonated with the audience as it made us realize what value we should place, and what value we actually place, on the human life.

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Reviews of The Addams Family at West Boca High School on Friday, 3/13/2015

By Kelsey Malanowski of North Broward Preparatory School

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… West Boca High’s compelling and spine-chilling performance left you feeling like a member of the family in their production of “The Addams Family”.

The Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The show is based on The Addams Family characters created by Charles Addams, which depict a ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things grotesque. Nominated for two Tony Awards, “The Addams Family” follows Wednesday Addams’ secret proposal to Lucas Beineke. However, it is when the square Beineke family is invited to stay for dinner at the eccentric Addams’ household, that chaos and hilarity ensue.

Eddie Datz did an amazing job of portraying the man of the house, boisterous and hispanic Gomez. Datz’s incredible energy never waned and, from his singing to his fencing, his performance was truly admirable. Right by his side was the remarkable Morticia, played by Lydia Castillo. Castillo was an excellent leading lady; she had wonderful vocal ability as well as terrific stage presence. Together, the two had excellent comedic timing and chemistry, and were a joy to watch.

Of course, besides the heads of the house, the Addams Family is filled with an array of characters, and the many actors who played them did an excellent job. Nick Anarumo, for example, excelled in capturing the quirkiness of his narrative character, Uncle Fester. Likewise, Tessa Burkhart who played Wednesday gave a dynamic performance as she was torn between her family and her new love.

Also, the ensemble of ghostly Ancestors were incredible in their performance. Their ghoulish makeup and costumes were stunning, and their presence always elevated the show. Where many elements of the performance were haunting, the most evocative moments were when the entire cast sang together with great harmonies and dancing.

Technically, the show was superb. The student-done makeup, set, and props greatly aided in creating the wonderfully spooky atmosphere and created a whole other world.

With an impressive amount of talented actors, singers, and dancers, West Boca High delivered a thrilling and unforgettable performance of “The Addams Family”.

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By Grant Brecheisen of Western High

Kooky characters, long-lasting laughs, and an inseparable family that would make Edgar Allen Poe raise an eyebrow were all found on the stage at West Boca High School in their performance of The Addams Family.

The Addams Family musical is based off of the cartoon characters created by Charles Addams. Previously there were a few films and television shows. The Addams Family musical was produced and first performed on Broadway in 2010, starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. The story covers the Addams family during a controversial time. Teenaged Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a boy, Lucas. The problem is, Lucas is just too normal. After a series of events and some tension between the family, the characters realize that love can’t be broken and will live on.

West Boca’s performance was filled with talent and decorated with laughs which made for an entertaining night. The whole cast distinctly made characterizations that brought a load of life to the stage, whether it was a stone-like Frankenstein or a dead Native American. The actors got a ton of laughs out of the audience due to their great comedic timing and execution of the punch lines.

Eddie Datz (Gomez) carried the show with his show-stopping presence. His vocals were very pleasing to listen too and he had the audience cracking up with just about every line he said. Datz really shined when he was joined on stage with Lydia Castillo (Morticia). Castillo gave a jaw-dropping performance. Her singing was so divinely pure and incredibly impressively, especially in the song “Just Around the Corner”. She wowed the audience with her acting ability in that she perfectly executed a stoic character with enough expression.

Nick Anarumo (Fester) supported the show terrifically with his breaking of the fourth wall as the narration character. Anarumo knew how to engage the audience and take a grasp of them through his line delivery and natural ability to entertain. Anarumo was definitely a pleasure to watch.

The most impressive aspect to the technicalities of The Addams Family was the attention to detail. Although the set wasn’t designed by students, it was constructed by students exceptionally well. Their effort and hard work put into the set was apparent with the masterfully detailed construction. The makeup for the show was out of this world. Even from the back of the auditorium the depth and the life that the makeup gave to the show was evident. The phenomenal makeup really added a completely new dimension to the show and helped bring the audience into to the atmosphere.

West Boca High School put on a performance filled with a talented cast and enjoyable executions in The Addams Family. With the setting and the atmosphere that West Boca produced, they showed you the eventful life lived when you’re an Addams!

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By Kyle Valencia of West Broward High School

It’s creepy and it’s kooky, it’s West Boca High Schools stellar performance of The Addams Family. This musical was a fantastic act consisting of dark under tones and great comedy, excellently executed by the students at West Boca High.

Based off the cartoon by Charles Addams and TV show of the same name, The Addams Family now appears in musical form containing a score and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. In this rendition of the Addams, the gang is up to their spooky antics again as young Wednesday Addams falls in love with the normal-seeming Lucas Beineke. In an attempt to bond the two families together for Wednesday’s sake, comedic chaos entails as Wednesday and the other Addams attempt to seem more “normal” to the unsuspecting Beineke family.

Stand out lead performances included Gomez Addams (Eddie Datz) who exemplified excellent comedic timing and an impressive ability to keep up a rather difficult accent. Wednesday (Tessa Burkhart) also did a fantastic job keeping up the iconic monotone deviousness of her character intact with excellent use of physical acting. Burkhart was also able to pull across Wednesday’s character development as a teenage girl. Although some of the other cast members somewhat struggled with their parts vocally, Morticia (Lydia Castillo) excelled greatly displaying her unparalleled vocal and acting control, able to make certain songs sound crisp and clear effortlessly.

Consisting of an ensemble of about 22 students, the Ancestors were able to show off their singing and dancing skills in multiple songs throughout the show mainly in “When You’re An Adams” as well as “Just Around The Corner”. The most noteworthy aspects of the ancestors was their ability to pump out solid harmonies, a sign that this group of students truly put a lot of time and effort into making this play sound as good as it did. Specific supporting characters that excelled would be Alice Beineke (Jenna Levine) who got to show off excellent vocal ability in “Waiting,” as well as Fester Addams (Nick Anarumo) who displayed great narration skills on stage.

The technical aspects of this show were nothing short of amazing. Not only did the show have an intricate and well-designed set, but the lighting also was able to shine by masking the stage in the matching tone of the dark and ghostly themes of the play. Although on certain characters it was hard to see the eyes of the actors, the make up in this show was outstanding. By using the unconventional method of air brushing, the makeup gave iconic stage presence to each character while preserving the shows naturally dark undertone.

A well committed cast and a professional level of tech and make up gave for a spooky experience in the theater that only The Addams Family could provide. Overall, this show deserves two classic Addams family snaps.

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By Ashley McFadden of Plantation High

Are you into the unusual? Maybe you are fond of what is beyond our mortal lives? Is death a thought that intrigues you? Well don’t worry, West Boca High School’s production of The Addams Family is the perfect show for you!

With the book written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, the adaptation from the famous television show and movie “The Addams Family” was brought to the Broadway stage in 2010. The story of a love-struck pair of not so compatible teenagers creates tension and catastrophe amongst two families. As Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke’s love blossoms (and wilts), Gomez’s promise, and only secret ever kept from his wife Morticia, nearly tears the rest of the Addams family apart.

An extremely talented cast of about 30 students were chosen to bring this iconic family to the stage. As the matriarch of the Addams, Morticia (played by Lydia Castillo) was a beautiful attribute to the production. Her acting was impeccable and her singing was superb. Her song “Just Around the Corner” was a show-stopping number. Eddie Datz who played Gomez Addams was a powerful performer. Every aspect of his performance was top notch. Singing was smooth, line delivery and timing was superior, and dancing was impressive.

Alice (Jenna Levine) had a captivating singing voice and her connection with her character was outstanding. Ryan Lim (Mal) had strong stage presence and great vocal ability. Fester (Nick Anarumo) was a stupendous comedian. His narrating ability was impressive and his line delivery and timing was great. His song “The Moon and Me” was a gut-busting yet heartwarming song that was very captivating. The ensemble of the Addams Family’s Ancestors was outstanding. Every aspect from their vocals to their harmonies and dancing were near impeccable.

In such a crazy situation, comedy is one of the biggest factors of the performance. Grandma (Christina Valera) left a lasting impression with minimal lines. Her body language and accent were never overdone and she let her presence be known. Another humorous aspect to the show was Pugsley (Spencer Glazer) who was a joy to watch on stage. His acting was enjoyable and his expressions were hilarious.

On the technical side of the show, the set was incredible and very eye-catching. The house was very useful and creative. The stage crew (led by Nick Morelli) worked fast and put the sets on stage with few mishaps. The standout of the show was by far the makeup. Designed and applied by multiple students, the airbrush technique was executed with much success and added a lot to the characters performance.

West Boca High School’s production of The Addams Family was nothing shy of fabulous. With show stopping numbers, incredible acting and an amazing set and makeup, the chaotic yet heartwarming story of an engagement gone wrong was put together and told beautifully.

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By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

“Full disclosure, it’s a hell of a thing!” Well, in the interest of full disclosure, it must be confessed: West Boca High School’s production of ‘The Addams Family’ was a hit!

‘The Addams Family’ is based on Charles Addams’ classic cartoons featured in The New Yorker, which also spawned four television series (some animated) and multiple films. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the show premiered on Broadway in April 2010, was nominated for eight Drama Desk awards, and has since had two successful national tours. The raucous comedy follows the titular family as, after their daughter reveals her engagement to an exceedingly normal boy, they are challenged to shed their eccentricities and create “One Normal Night” when the fiancé’s family comes to town.

West Boca took the challenge of performing this sidesplitting show head-on. The cast as a whole throughout the production showed an outrageous amount of energy and precision, which proved to be advantageous in the multiple high-energy ensemble musical numbers such as “When You’re an Addams” and “Full Disclosure.”

Eddie Datz as Gomez Addams, the father of the household who finds himself caught between wanting to please both his daughter and wife, showcased his comedic timing and clear stage presence as he led the show to success. Morticia Addams, the highly persuasive matriarch who struggles with her daughter’s maturity, was portrayed by Lydia Castillo, whose stellar acting and vocal abilities shone in such touching musical numbers as “Just Around the Corner.” The parents’ clear chemistry was a highlight of the show, adding a touch of sincerity to the otherwise wacky production.

Among a plethora of supporting actors, two showstoppers were Uncle Fester and Wednesday Addams (played by Nick Anarumo and Tessa Burkhart, respectively), two family members with quirks of their own. Anarumo was delightful as the goofy Fester, and his interactions with the ensemble of Addams Ancestors were all at once charming and hilarious. Burkhart brought an emotional depth to her portrayal of Wednesday, and her raw emotion in such numbers as “Pulled” and “Crazier Than You” added to the believability of the production.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. The technical crew performed set and scene changes quickly and quietly, and sound and light cues were timely and precise. The student-built set should be noted for its versatility and high-quality construction, as well.

Ultimately, West Boca High School embraced ‘The Addams Family’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. They showed us that family comes above all else, and that though we may all have our quirks, it’s our oddities that make us who we are!

Reviews of In the Heights at Cypress Bay High School on Thursday, 3/12/2015

By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

What do coffee, fireworks, photo albums, and the lottery all have in common? Well, they were all apart of Cypress Bay High School’s magical production of In the Heights.

In the Heights takes place within a New York Dominican-American neighborhood in Washington Heights. This musical is about a series of characters that all go through different kinds of struggles in their lives. The music and lyrics for In the Heights were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, while the book was written by Quiara Alegria Hudes. It opened on Broadway in 2008, but the show was performed before that in other various locations. In the Heights was nominated for fourteen Tony Awards and won four, including: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations. It also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Cypress Bay High School’s rendition of In the Heights was lively and delightful. It consisted of memorable vocal performances and dancers all throughout the show. The comedic timing was faultless, each joke and punchline had the audience members laughing with ease.

The highly likable Usnavi, played by Jon Batista, truly became the character and never missed a beat with his rhythmic songs. Batista remained in character for the entire show, ultimately leaving audience members with a believable and engaging performance. Usnavi’s love interest, Vanessa, played by Laura Munevar, had an admirable vocal performance and showed off her dancing ability in the club scene. Nina, a girl struggling with both college and love, played by Suzie Fyodosov took the stage with her outstanding vocal range in the several solos she sang. Nina’s love interest, Benny, played by Benny Elfont, had authentic chemistry with Suzie Fyodosov, creating a truthful love story between the two characters.

Other actors worth noting include Paloma Leon, who played the plausible, adorable Abuela Claudia, Michael Valladares, who played Usnavi’s riotous younger brother Sonny, and last but not least, Ivan Azcarate and Magali Trench, who played Kevin and Camila the strict, yet caring parents who only want the best for their daughter Nina.

The technical aspects were detailed and interesting. Each costume matched the character’s personality very well and remained convincing throughout the production. The sets were quite humble yet realistic as well, each time an actor shifted positions on stage we were taken to a different part of town. Although their use of lighting and props could be expanded, the production overall flowed nicely and was enjoyable nonetheless.

Cypress Bay High School truly made the audience part of their production of In the Heights, leaving the audience with a positive energy as they exit the theatre.

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By Megan Merino of The Sagemont School

If you can smell the scent of freshly made coffee from the corner bodega, hear a fusion of three generations of music with an undeniable latin flare and come across a man with a cart trying to sell Piragua’s, then chances are you are watching IN THE HEIGHTS the musical.

Cypress Bay High School took on the difficult task of performing this innovative musical, written by Quiara Alegria Hudes with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is set in Washington Heights, New York and follows the lives of a tightknit Latin American neighborhood over a period of three days. The multiple story lines combine romance with comedy as well as struggle and evoke laughter, tears and much more from the audience watching. The tony award winning musical isn’t only packed with energy, lovable characters and music that has people dancing in their seats, but tells the story of a community trying to pursue careers and chase their dreams, despite the hardships that are inevitable in life.

Cypress Bay’s production of IN THE HEIGHTS captured the true essence of the musical and stayed very true to the original performance in terms of costumes and set. The energy from the cast was consistently and high and gave the audience no choice but to go on the emotional journey with them. The choreography fitted in the contemporary style of the show and was executed well by the cast with high energy and effort.

The lead actors gave note-worthy performances and showed versatility in effectively capturing the different genres of music in the show. The role of Nina, played by Suzie Fyodosov, gave a beautiful vocal performance throughout, along with Usnavi, played by Jon Batista, who managed to convey deep emotion through his many rapping parts. The romance between Nina and Benny, played by Benny Elfont, added another level of realism to the show. The natural chemistry that they showed to have on stage made their characters all the more believable.

The supporting cast met the high standards set for them by their leads and added dimension to the entire performance. Paloma Leon gave a heart-warming performance as the character of Abuela Claudia through her great character choices and consistency throughout. Playing an older character can be very challenging and Leon should be commended for her great interpretation of the role. The character of Daniela played by Erica Steinkohl added another level of humor to the performance with her bold costumes and make-up and even bolder sassy attitude. Energy was lacking in some of the ensemble members but was often compensated for by more prominent actors, however the harmonies sung by all members of the cast in the bigger numbers were tight and powerful.

The set used for the production was realistic, intricate and aesthetically pleasing. The costumes worn by the cast members suited their personalities well and added to the contemporary feel of the show. Vanessa, played by Laura Munevar, wore feminine clothes that suited her flirty character and a flowing red dress that only enhanced the choreography in the The Club scene.

Cypress Bay High School’s performance of IN THE HEIGHTS was an emotional, humorous, romantic and heart-breaking show that was executed with grace and precision. The cast along with the technical aspects of the show fused to create a performance not to be missed.

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By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

Lights up on Washington Heights at the break of day. The rattle of a shop grate, the rumble of traffic, and shouts of “¡buenos días!” punctuate the early morning air as the aroma of brewing coffee floats from the bodega. Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights” journeys to the world at top of the subway map.

Inspired by people and events that touched his own life, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the book and music of “In the Heights” to document the story of a vibrant immigrant community in Washington Heights, which debuted in 2007, and won four Tony awards in 2008. With a fierce pride in their heritage, the people of the barrio struggle against gentrification, discover dreams, reminisce, and fall in love “in the Heights.”

Spouting Usnavi’s honest verse, Jon Batista exhibited impeccable diction and characterization. As the show’s quasi-narrator, Batista developed a characterization that was distinctively and effortlessly Dominican, being both fast paced and punctuated in his delivery. Benny Elfont (Benny) and Suzie Fyodosov’s (Nina) voices blended well together and their romantic chemistry seemed genuine. Paloma Leon (Abuela Claudia) was consistent in her portrayal of her careworn character’s physicality.

The performance of the salon girls, Daniela (Erica Steinkohl) and Carla (Gillian Rabin) diverged from the way the traditional portrayal of the two women. Steinkohl and Rabin portrayed their characters as closer to their own age instead of two middle-aged women holding on to their youth. At times this interpretation went at odds with the script, but Steinkohl maintained Daniela’s vivaciousness distinctly and Rabin carried Carla’s perkiness through every scene.

A modern show such as “In the Heights” might be easier for a high school cast to identify with but there seemed to be a lack of understanding of the show’s deep cultural roots, and even in the particular history of the relationships between the residents of Washington Heights. The cast performed well, but the show could have been enhanced further by that additional dynamic.

In light of the newly revived public discussion of immigration in America, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights” provided a taste of what its like to make a new start.

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By Maggie Behan of Cardinal Gibbons

Nina dropped out of Stanford, Usnavi is in love with Vanessa, and someone won the lottery–no me diga! Such is the drama unfolding over an action packed three days in the poor Hispanic neighborhood of Washington Heights in the aptly named “In the Heights”, as performed by Cypress Bay High School.

Written in 2005 by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes, “In the Heights” ran for three years on Broadway. The story opens with introductions by Usnavi, the quick-rapping owner of a tiny grocery store in the close-knit barrio. Among Washington Heights’ other inhabitants are Benny, the only honorary Hispanic of the group; Vanessa, who wants nothing more than to get out of the barrio; Nina, who actually did get out, until she lost her scholarship to Stanford; and Abuela Claudia, the entire neighborhood’s grandmother and the glue holding together their fragile lives. Benny is in love with Nina, Usnavi with Vanessa, and someone in the barrio has won the $96,000 lottery, an inconceivable fortune to the dwellers of Washington Heights–but who could it be?

With professional vocals and intuitive comedic timing, Cypress Bay’s cast delivered on a very difficult show. Despite occasional vocal straining in solos and a sometimes lost-looking ensemble, the cast impressed with believable emotion in both songs and lines.

Suzie Fyodosov embodied the hardworking Nina in everything from her lines to her posture as she belted out difficult notes–such as those in her heart-tugging rendition of “Breathe”–with power, control, and ease. Jon Batista, meanwhile, clearly articulated every line of the fast-talking Usnavi, holding the heart of the show in his very capable hands. The show was further carried by Laura Munevar, whose harsh realism as Vanessa grounded the rest of the characters while entrancing the audience with her polished powerhouse voice.

No accent was more consistent than that of Erica Steinkohl as Daniela. Steinkohl consistently portrayed the gossipy humor of her role, maintaining character even when she wasn’t the focus of the scene. Her partner in crime, Carla, played by Gillian Rabin, never failed to garner laughs with her dimwitted antics. This duo’s comedic relief was aided and abetted by Michael Vallardes’s slick and smooth Sonny, with impeccable comedic timing and clear diction.

The talented cast was was bolstered by quick cue-work; every track was delivered precisely on time. Despite occasional difficulty in finding and holding their subjects, spots and other lighting were generally timely, and very creative in scenes such as “Blackout”. The crew was efficient and rarely seen as they manipulated the innovative sets.

Cypress Bay High School offered an impressive level of vocal talent and a mature understanding of a complex book. Despite the occasional strained vocals and lighting issues, the cast demonstrated that all it takes is a little paciencia y fé to survive in the heights.

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By Aaron Bourque of South Plantation High School

Vivid graffiti streaks the walls of a jaded bodega in the barrio. However, with a little rhythm and a lot of Latin spice, this place seems anything but jaded in Cypress Bay High School’s production of “In the Heights.”

With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegria Hudes, In the Heights gives a glimpse of life of the Hispanic community Washington Heights in New York City. The musical features several different plotlines, but ultimately accentuates the strength of family and friendship. In the Heights is accredited with many awards, namely the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Jon Batista as bodega owner Usnavi excelled with suave and comedic rap delivery and a palpable energy onstage that consistently supported the cast throughout the show. Laura Munevar as Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest, effectively portrayed their erratic relationship, ranging from heated exchanges of jealousy and contempt to romantically comedic interactions of awkward conversations and unopened champagne bottles. As such, their relationship and chemistry onstage shone in the song “Champagne,” featuring clumsy, yet amusing flirts that lead to their first, climatic kiss.

Suzie Fyodosov as Nina, the Stanford University dropout who returns to the neighborhood, impressed with powerful, yet controlled vocals showcased in songs such as “Breathe” and “Everything I Know,” also capturing the emotions of student angst and death. Benny Elfont as Benny, the only non-Hispanic person in the Washington Heights community, effectively portrayed his cultural incongruities, specifically in his broken Spanish phrases. As a couple, Fyodosov and Elfont successfully displayed the characterization and emotion behind the thematic “forbidden romance” nature of their relationship, and capitalized on tender moments, especially in the song “Sunrise,” with the couple isolated on an apartment balcony.

Characters such as Daniela (Erica Steinkohl), Sonny (Michael Valladares), and Piragua Guy (Nick Lopez) successfully dominated the comedic elements of the show, but still maintaining impeccable accents that emphasized their cultural backgrounds. Paloma Leon spearheaded the matriarchal character of Abuela Claudia, introducing a motherly and caring group dynamic with Batista and Fyodosov. As a whole, the Spanish accents provided by most of the cast were believable, consistent, but still understandable.

The ensemble, which consisted mainly of Washington Heights residents, featured strong vocals and coordinated, captivating dance routines that supported many emotional moments throughout the show, chiefly during “The Club” number. Although they, at times, seem cluttered on stage, most committed to their character during dialogue, and were often scene fanning themselves or gossiping as stage business.

From student-made costumes to fast scene changes, the show, technically, ran commendably. Although sound issues were present, they were not greatly distracting. Numbers such as “The Club” and “Blackout” were completely choreographed by students Magali Trench and Julia Thomas, and featured passionate, synchronized movements typical of the Spanish Salsa.

With a compelling family dynamic, Cypress Bay High School reminded that “everything is easier when you’re home” in their production of “In the Heights.”

Reviews of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at University School of NSU on Saturday, 3/7

By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

A play within a play? Though this concept may seem complex, University School had the audience laughing, cheering, and even hissing with their stellar production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Set in the Victorian era, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a musical that encourages audience participation to decide the outcome of the serial publications written by Charles Dickens. In the middle of writing these episodic stories, Dickens tragically died on June 9, 1870, unable to finish the story. Now, years later, revealing a murderer among a cast of many colorful characters, the long-lasting mystery of Edwin Drood can be resolved.

As soon as the lights went down and the cast came out into the aisles, jaws dropped to the floor. The costumes of each and every actor were expertly crafted to fit the era and setting of the show. Aesthetically, the show was stunning! Both sets and props were perfectly designed and created to fit each scene. From the turkey during the dinner scene to the drinks in the wine glasses, everything looked realistic and precise. Scene changes were fluid and not at all distracting to the audience.

The title-role of Edwin Drood was played by Laura Galindo. Every time Galindo walked on stage (no matter whom she portrayed), she owned that character and piece of stage, never forcing the character onto the audience. She had natural movement and a phenomenal voice to compliment it, keeping the audience intrigued and wanting more. Two other awe-inspiring actors that deserve to be commended are the Landless twins, played by Avrumie Tornheim and Andie Garcia. With their synchronized movements and “untraceable geographical accents”, this duo had the audience laughing and loving every minute they were on stage.

Michelle Langone played the role of Rosa Bud, Edwin Drood’s fiancé. Her stunning soprano voice was captivating and left the audience wide-eyed and speechless. Through her hand gestures and the strain in her face, one could almost feel the anguish her character was experiencing throughout the show. Jacob Greene, portraying the character of John Jasper, possessed a physicality on stage that was swift and precise as he managed to sing all of his notes perfectly without ever losing sight of his character.

The ensemble played an immense and important role to the performance. With their high energy and synced choreography, they helped the audience step into the Victorian time period with their natural movements against the backdrops of the different scenes. Everyone’s character was believable, which is crucial in any theatrical show.

By the end of the night, the audience had come up with an answer to the mystery that had been laid before them. Though that answer will most likely change at the next performance, the cast and audience accomplished the feat of finally finding out the true Mystery of Edwin Drood.

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By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

“Now I’ve confessed, now we both can rest!” Well, there’s no need to confess; it’s no secret that University School of Nova Southeastern University’s production of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ was a hit!

‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ is based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name. With music, lyrics, and a book by Rupert Holmes, the show premiered on Broadway in 1985 and went on to win five Tony awards, including Best Musical. The raucous comedy follows a fledgling British theatre company as it puts on a production of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’; the play within the play follows the disappearance of rich magnate Edwin Drood and the ensuing investigation. Because Dickens’ novel remained unfinished, the musical is designed around a “choose-your-own-adventure” device, wherein the audience is able to vote on the murderer, thus choosing the end of the show.

University School took the challenge of performing this sidesplitting show head-on. The inclusion of audience interaction throughout the show brought dozens of priceless moments and allowed the actors to demonstrate their clear improvisational skills. The cast as a whole throughout the production showed an outrageous amount of energy and eagerness, which proved to be advantageous in the multiple high-energy ensemble musical numbers such as “There You Are” and “Off to the Races.”

Carlo Feliciani as the Chairman, who oversees the theatre company’s production and the interactive audience voting, showcased his comedic timing and secure understanding of his character as he led the show to success. Rosa Bud, Edwin Drood’s fiancée and the chosen murderer for this particular production, was portrayed by Michelle Langone, whose operatic vocals made musical numbers such as “Moonfall” and “Murderer’s Confession” highlights of the show. On top of this, Langone’s facility in her character development made Rosa’s transition from sweet debutante to callous murderer all the more entertaining.

Among a plethora of supporting actors, two showstoppers were Helena and Neville Landless (played by Andie Garcia and Avrumie Tornheim, respectively), siblings from a foreign country with self-proclaimed “geographically untraceable accents” who are suspects in the murder investigation. Garcia’s facial expressions and affectations brought the laughs, while Tornheim’s featured dancing consistently drew the attention of the audience, even during busy ensemble numbers. Both were able to showcase their improvisational skills as the audience chose the siblings to be “lovers” towards the end of the performance; their characters’ awkward discomfort during their romantic interlude was ideal comedic fodder.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. The technical crew performed set and scene changes with such fluidity that one barely noticed their presence, while music cues were timely and precise. Though there were some issues with microphone feedback, they did not detract from the actors’ performances.

Ultimately, University School embraced ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. They showed us that “No Good Can Come from Bad,” and that sometimes an unpredictable ending is the best kind!

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By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

It was the best of times, but hardly the worst of times at University School of NSU’s enchanting production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” With an enticing cast and secure technical elements, this delightful production went “Out on a Limerick” and delivered a multitalented show.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” chronicles a theatre company’s effort to depict the unfinished final novel of author Charles Dickens. Enigmatically, the leading male (played by a girl) is murdered with no culprit and the audience receives the opportunity to vote major plot decisions in this interactive “whodunit?” show-within-a-show.

The talented Laura Galindo as Edwin Drood proved her vocal prowess and her acting skill as a woman playing a woman playing a man. She was able to portray the hilariously outrageous Alice Nutting and seamlessly transition into the serious Edwin Drood and her exquisite vocals only added to her character. Carlo Feliciani’s bold stage presence as Chairman made for an entertaining and comprehensive character that remained consistent through out the show. The frightening performance delivered by Jacob Greene as John Jasper produced a tantalizing character, if a bit inconsistent with his role. Greene’s vocals shined especially in “A Man Could Go Quite Mad” and “Jasper’s Confession.”

Andie Garcia and Avrumie Tornheim as uproarious twins Helena and Neville provided a perfectly synched performance with heightened chemistry and precision. From the perfectly timed head movements to the comical “Perfect Strangers (Duet—Reprise),” Garcia and Tornheim captured the audience’s attention whenever they were on stage. Ayla Maulding as Princess Puffer conveyed a captivating character with bold character choices and flawless comedic timing. Michelle Langone well portrayed the role of the haunted Rosa Bud. With her creepily widened eyes, jerky movements, and panicked tone of voice, Langon gave life to what could have been a flat character. Her stylized vocals took the audience’s breath away, especially in her beautiful renditions of “Moonfall,” “Murderer’s Confession” and all other songs she sang.

Well developed technical elements strengthened the already impressive musical. The set designed by Christian Wong provided the perfect backdrop for the spooky British setting and the eerie lighting only intensified the creepy atmosphere. Capable stage crew distracted little from the performance as they moved quickly and efficiently in costume. Exquisite choreography created by Sophie Septoff added to the energetic dance numbers. Her choreographed numbers, “There You Are,” “Jasper’s Vision,” “Both Sides of the Coin,” “Off to the Races,” and “The Writing on the Wall” especially stood out for their beautifully fluent and synchronized movements.

Charles Dickens penned “Please, sir, I want some more” in Oliver Twist but he might as well have written it about University School of NSU’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” The cast that seamlessly blended outrageous comedic moments with deeply serious scenes combined with proficiently created technical elements created an enjoyable and complete production.

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By Kelsey Powers of Boca Raton Community High School

Drama, intrigue, and comedy: the perfect recipe for a theatrical performance. In University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, the players of the Music Hall Royale provide just that as the audience is whisked away to Victorian England and into the middle of a murder mystery.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, with book, music, and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, opened on Broadway in 1985 and won five Tony awards, including Best Musical. It is based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name, and centers around the disappearance of a young Englishman and the suspicion cast on those around him, from his fiancée to the local minister. This musical is highly unique in that, since Dickens left his novel unfinished, the audience decides by vote how each performance will end.

University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was defined by the vocal formidability of its entire cast and by the overall smooth technical aspects, such as seamless scene changes and an impressive student-designed set that kept the audience immersed in the story throughout the performance.

As the Chairman of the Music Hall Royale and narrator of the story, Carlo Feliciani provided a solid backbone for the production, engrossing the audience in the intricacies of the play-within-a-play. In the tradition of English pantomime, the role of Edwin Drood was played by a woman, Laura Galindo, whose suave stage presence and knack for comedic timing was delightful to witness.

The rest of the cast remained truly supportive of the plot, maintaining an impressively high level of energy and characterization throughout both acts. Standing out were Avrumie Tornheim and Andie Garcia as Neville and Helena Landless, showcasing both their vocal and comedic abilities in “A British Subject” and “Perfect Strangers (Reprise),” and Michelle Langone as Rosa Bud, wowing the audience with her pitch-perfect soprano in “Moonfall” and “Perfect Strangers.”

Technically, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was complex, yet executed smoothly, with timely lighting cues and period-appropriate costumes, makeup, and props. The stage crew, costumed to blend in with the ensemble, moved cumbersome set pieces on and off stage with ease, never detracting from the action. Occasional issues with microphone crackling distracted from the action on stage, but the phenomenal student orchestra kept the energy constant throughout the entire show.

Dreadfully delightful, University School’s production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” was a challenge met head-on by the cast and crew. It’s certainly not a “mystery” why this production was so successful.

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By Trent Hampel of Western High

Mystery and comedy complement each other like peanut butter and jelly: they shouldn’t work but just do. Though we may never know Charles Dickens’ true ending to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, University School’s production provided constant thrills and laughs.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens covers a Victorian era tale of deceit, conflict, and conflicting romance. Dickens passed away before completing this his final novel, leaving the ending subject to the whim of the audience. The viewers select which character murdered Edwin Drood as well as the true identity of the mysterious Datchery.

Carlo Feliciani (Chairman) consistently engaged the audience with his charisma and charm and reacted exceptionally with his stipulated applause or boos and hisses. Feliciani drove the show with his consistently composed demeanor and warm, welcoming arm gestures and sly grins. Laura Galindo (Edwin Drood) played her role smoothly with natural movements and clear vocal talent. Galindo proved dynamic in transitioning into the second act, becoming the narcissistic prima donna her role called for.

Avrumie Tornheim (Neville) displayed comprehension for comedic timing and consistency in his accent. Tornheim appeared cohesive with Andie Garcia (Helena) as the overly attached siblings. Garcia was hilarious in her abrupt facial expressions and consistency in her character. Tornheim and Garcia’s incredibly awkward love ballad of incest could not have been executed any wittier.

Andrew Singer (Bazzard) appeared as the nervous, jittery, ecstatic actor that captured his character’s inexperience perfectly. Singer seized his opportunities in the spotlight and maintained his characterization throughout the show. Jacob Greene (Jasper) and Michelle Langone (Rosa) exemplified a spectacular vocal performance, Greene delivering powerful, piercing tones and Langone presenting impressive operatic control. Other standout performers included Erin Cary (Flo), Christian Wong (Stage Manager), and Kayla Gladstone (Dancer).

The show featured an array of remarkable songs, most notably “No Good Can Come From Bad.” The sharp synchronization of the number paired with a dominant choral display reflected the attention to detail in the act as a whole. Considering the degree of difficulty of the show, it is only natural to have some hiccups in the way of diction in certain songs and occasional issues with feedback from sound. Unfortunately some key actors did not grasp significant aspects of their characters. The ensembles overall seemed energetic and on point and interacted well with the audience.

University School captured with clever mystique of the show and presented The Mystery of Edwin Drood with apparent effort and thoroughness on all fronts.

Reviews of The Miracle Worker at The Sagemont School on Sunday 3/8

By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

You know that parable about the blind leading the blind? In Sagemont’s production of “The Miracle Worker”, this aphorism unfolded quite literally onstage in the dramatic interpretation of the unique struggle and relationship between Anne Sullivan and her pupil, Helen Keller.

When American author Mark Twain first heard of Helen Keller’s success story, he called Anne Sullivan a “miracle worker.” William Gibson repurposed this remark to use as the title of his 1957 play about the relationship between the deaf, blind, mute, and almost feral child, Helen Keller, and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. “The Miracle Worker” won five out of six Tony awards it was nominated for in the year of its debut, including the award for best play.

Foremost, Erica Merlino (Helen Keller) and Angel Martinez (Anne Sullivan) must be recognized for the high physical demand of their roles and the thoroughness with which their physical relationship was portrayed. Neither Merlino nor Martinez held back during altercations. Martinez’s eerie but sweet lullaby contributed a gentleness to the evident blossoming of the relationship between Anne and Helen. Merlino also managed to communicate Helen’s full range of expression with acute attention paid to the detail of how a deaf and blind child might truly act. Her performance was completely realistic and diverse in her expression of the complete spectrum of Helen’s emotions.

Paxton Terris (James Keller) seemed to notice his comedic role within the play as the exasperated son but he also contributed to a noticeable shift in his relationship with Jordan Bitar (Captain Keller) when he confronted his father for perhaps the first time. While the emotional commitment of some characters seemed lacking, each cast member seemed to establish a vivid relationship with Merlino’s character. The cast overall, however, could have improved their performance even further by facing more directly towards the audience and making sure they remained visible around various set pieces.

During the first act, Sagemont’s small black box theatre lost power in the middle of the scene. The actors continued with lines as a completely student run technical crew worked to solve the problem. Some trouble with elements of the clarity of sound effects and the visibility of actors with the lighting could have been improved upon but the student constructed two-tiered set enhanced visual interest and depth to the scenes. Properties added realism to the storyline with an impeccable attention to detail, from the water pump to real food at the Keller’s table.

Anne Sullivan’s story of perseverance and Helen’s story of success against all odds continue to inspire audiences today in Sagemont’s captivating production of “The Miracle Worker.”

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By Magali Trench of Cypress Bay High School

The painful yet absolutely beautiful story of Helen Keller’s childhood is brought to life in The Miracle Worker, written by William Gibson. The story, based on Keller’s autobiography, displays the relationship between Helen and Anne Sullivan, a women her parents hire as a teacher. It shows the audience what magical occurrences result from perseverance at its highest extent. Sagemont School’s production of The Miracle Worker truly brought immense respect to Helen Keller’s life while entertaining with a strong cast and wise theatrical decisions.

Portraying such a wounded yet beautiful soul, such that Helen Keller had, isn’t something that comes without thought. Erica Merlino, playing Helen Keller, quickly showed her audience she had understood and fulfilled each demand a character like this requires. Merlino was a master of detail. From the simple action of sliding down the stairs rather than walking or having her mouth propped open to show her reliance on the senses that did work, Merlino stopped at nothing to make her portrayal of Helen as realistic as possible. One moan or the placement of her hands was enough to portray the hundreds of words she wished to say.

Acting as the spine of the show, Merlino kept a consistent chemistry with all of her fellow actors. Of course one of the strongest relationships was that between Helen and Anne Sullivan, her teacher. Played by Angel Martinez, Anne’s character asked for the perfect blend of knowing her place as the young girl’s teacher yet still expressing that love that was bound to grow for Helen. Martinez did just that. Growing alongside Helen, Martinez clearly showed Anne’s desire to get through to this wild girl to unlock all that was inside of her. Both women did a great job of carrying the show, and even in their scenes filled only with silence, the electricity between the two was not hard to see.

Following the trend of Helen’s growth, James Keller, her brother, also transformed into a man his father finally respected by the end of the show. Paxton Terris, playing James, skillfully added slight comic relief to the intensity of this show. His character choices were very wise and he went through a full spectrum of emotions that resulted in a truly organic performance.

Although holding smaller parts, Jimmie Sullivan and Percy made their moment on stage quite memorable. In particular, Anne’s deceased younger brother, Jimmie, played by Isaac Ryaboy, brought such immense power through his short yet lingering lines through his appearances in multiple flashbacks.

Dressed in multiple costumes that took the audience back to the early 20th century, the cast of The Miracle Worker created a beautiful sense of trust between each other to cohesively build a great show. Although every show is bound to have its little flops that ultimately make live theatre what it is, this cast didn’t let some lighting mishaps stop them and they put on a truly memorable performance.

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By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

When a young girl loses two of her most vital senses, sight and hearing, at a young age, it may take a miracle for her to have a more normal life. The Sagemont School told the famous story in their production of “The Miracle Worker.”

“The Miracle Worker,” by William Gibson, is the story of Helen Keller, a deafblind child undisciplined by her family, and her new governess, Anne Sullivan, who is determined to teach her not only obedience, but language as well. The play saw its debut in 1959, and won five Tony Awards, including Best Play.

The standout performance of The Sagemont School’s production came from Erica Merlino as Helen Keller. Her grasp on the mannerisms and physicality of the iconic role was unprecedented. Without uttering a single word, Merlino managed to steal the show entirely. She was able to construct clear relationships with those around her through actions alone, an astounding feat that only the most skillful actors tend to accomplish. Alongside her was Angel Martinez as Anne Sullivan, who carried the bulk of the show’s text. Martinez was able to shine a light on both the determination and frustration of her young but wise character with conviction. These two actresses worked together to create the production’s most touching moment- a tear-jerking scene in which all of Anne Sullivan’s hard work to get Helen to attach meaning to words pays off.

Paxton Terris, playing Helen’s half-brother James, was the comic relief in this production. Though he relished in some convincing dramatic moments as well, his comedic timing gave life to the perceptive character.

The student-designed set was beautiful and practical, though the small theater space tended to limit the functionality of the pieces placed in the downstage area. The costumes were student-selected, and each and every one was stunningly beautiful and completely appropriate to the period. The hats worn by some characters could have been done without, as their size and accoutrements would block the faces of the actors from time to time. The props used in the show, however, fit the time period flawlessly in addition to being incredibly realistic.

Some actors failed to orient their delivery in the direction of the audience, which, when combined with a lack of projection in some cases, made for lost lines. But, overall, the Sagemont School’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” was a heartfelt testament to the trials and triumphs of the brave Helen Keller.

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By Miranda Vogt of North Broward Preparatory School

The Sagemont School’s production of “The Miracle Worker” was truly touching. The true story of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan was brought to life in an amazing show of commitment and talent that brought tears to eyes and smiles to faces.

Set in Tuscumbia, Alabama at the childhood home of Helen Keller, “The Miracle Worker” tells the story of how Anne Sullivan taught Helen to overcome being deaf and blind and communicate using a hand-signed alphabet. The play first premiered on Broadway in 1959, and critics went on to admire how the already inspiring story of overcoming a disability became something entirely moving and powerful when performed on stage.

This was seen in all its truth in the Sagemont School’s production. From the first line to the last, the actors displayed commitment and determination that carried the play to new heights. All the actors were obviously comfortable acting with each other, and that made the bold choices in blocking and physicality they made truly pay off. The ending scene was beautifully done, and the difficulty of this play only made it that much more amazing to see how wonderfully it was pulled off.

Erica Merlino as Helen Keller put so much effort into every part of her character that from her full body temper-tantrums to simply cutting an apple slice on a plate, her movements and choices were believable and added layers to her character. When her breakthrough finally came, the audience became teary, clearly seeing through Merlino’s facial expressions that she finally understood that the sign for “water” was the name of the liquid running through her hands. Angel Martinez as Anne Sullivan also brought believability and character development to the stage, easily recreating the complex relationship Anne and Helen had.

Paxton Terris as James Keller brought to the stage a vibrant character that, in a play chock full of struggle and hardship, presented a little much-needed comic relief. Paxton and Jordan Bitar as Captain Keller (James’ father) together developed a relationship that, though not completely tied up at the end, was engrossing to watch unfold. Though the accents were sometimes made the lines hard to understand, each of Helen’s family members had wonderful relationships with Helen, despite the fact that she was unable to articulate her feelings with words.

Technical aspects of the show ran relatively smoothly. Lighting choices were not always conducive to seeing facial expressions and some scenes in the garden house felt a little cramped, but the set and costumes were gorgeous. From vases of fresh flowers and wooden furniture to the stunning period dresses, the detailed set and costumes made the play feel even more real. However, as the actors were without microphones, projection was sometimes too soft to catch every phrase.

The Sagemont School’s production of “The Miracle Worker” made every audience member see the fierceness and beauty in the story of Helen Keller and her amazing teacher, sincerely showing the importance of teaching, learning, and language.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

It’s safe to say that the spectators at The Sagemont School’s latest production were familiar with the story at the center of The Miracle Worker, but the tear-stained applause at the curtain call was a clear indication of an audience humbled by the authentic transformation of a gifted actress into one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography and centers around her experiences as an infant in Alabama with Anne Sullivan, the teacher who helped her rise against her limitations as a deaf-blind person by standing up against her spoiled lifestyle and teaching her obedience and language. The original Broadway production starring Anne Bancroft opened in 1959 and was nominated for five Tony Awards, winning four including Best Play.

Erica Merlino carried the show with a riveting performance as Helen Keller. She was fully committed and immersed in the role both physically and emotionally, but sidestepped stereotyping to find tangible humanity in the character. Merlino’s poignant, impaired gaze was filled with nuances and subtlety which captured distinct, organic emotions while retaining the strong physical characteristics of Keller’s disability. Without practically any dialogue but instead relying completely on brilliantly constructed physicality and facials, Merlino built a stunning character arc that drove the production into a truly cathartic finale. Another impressive aspect of Merlino’s performance was her extremely realistic execution of physically violent scenes, which demonstrated extreme comfort and preparation by her and her fellow performers.

Angel Martinez displayed strong stage presence and comfort as Anne Sullivan; her chemistry with Merlino and the confidence with which she approached the character’s journey were key components to the show’s emotional build up. Such chemistry was not always mirrored in other performances, which sometimes seemed forced and unnatural. Paxton Terris brought great energy to the production as James, Helen’s brother, and his ability to both tackle important dramatic moments and lighten the mood with well-executed humor displayed versatility and charisma. Claudia Moncaliano was always a welcomed presence on stage as Viney, the family’s maid, due to refreshing line delivery which displayed clear understanding of her dialogue and character. Unlike other performers, some of whom lacked comfort with their accent and thus had unclear diction, Moncaliano showed full command of her accent and applied it with consistency.

Sagemont’s multilayered student-constructed set, despite sometimes suffering from disorganized lighting, was excellently designed and brought dynamic staging opportunities to what could have been a very traditionally set-up production. It was richly dressed by detailed props, and the period-appropriate costume design nicely contributed to the play’s atmosphere.

It may take a miracle worker to fully encompass the timelessness of Helen Keller’s journey, but The Sagemont School came frightfully close in their latest production thanks to a profoundly moving central performance that beautifully captured the spirit of resilience in the face of adversity.
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Reviews of The Addams Family at South Plantation High School on Sunday 3/8

By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

When the Addams family and the Beineke family meet for the first time, anything but “One Normal Night” is bound to occur! Instead, the perfect blend of sign language, singing, and dancing came to life at South Plantation High School’s production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY!

Creator Charles Addams’s classic tale of the creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky Addams family was materialized on stage with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and with a score by Andrew Lippa. This musical reinvented the tale by presenting Wednesday Addams as a girl in love with the relatively “normal” Lucas Beineke. However, while breaking the news to their families, hilarious chaos ensues. Nominated for two Tony Awards in 2010, the musical begged the question, “Will their love triumph in the end?”

What was unique about this show was that it incorporated American Sign Language to turn it into Theater for the Deaf. Each actor was tasked with signing their lines, even while singing and moving around and others were tasked with signing for them when they could not. The cast turned the sign language into a dance, making it complement their vocal ability beautifully and seamlessly intertwining it into their character’s persona. This production was not just theater for the deaf, it was music for the eyes!

As we all know, the Addams family is filled with some of the most loveable weirdos in entertainment history. At the head of this production was Gomez Addams (Jesse Castellanos) and Wednesday Addams (Monica Aivazian). Castellanos did what few actors can, he made sure every single line sung, phrase signed, and move danced had purpose. He became the personification of Addams craziness. In turn, Aivazian showered the stage with her singing and signing ability, presenting vocal acrobatics that the audience looked forward to throughout the production.

The Addams matriarch Morticia (Alexandra Moraru) and the Beineke mother, Alice (Kelly Walsh) also dazzled the audience. Moraru shone with her macabre humor and superb dancing ability. Walsh developed her character and filled the stage with her heavenly voice. The comical aspects of the show were also expanded on by Grandma Addams (Shea Rogus) and Pugsley Addams (Adam Ortega). Frequently the show’s scene stealers, these sadistic actors had impressively characterized their voices to make the dark humor of the show even more amusing.

The technical aspects of the show made it more visually pleasing. The set and lighting as well as the student-run costumes, make-up, and props truly set the atmosphere for the show. Meanwhile, the live student orchestra added another layer of emotion to the already well-performed numbers. Some microphone and lighting errors were present, but the audience did not dwell on them and the cast effectively worked around them.

South Plantation took on an ambitious production and hit all the marks. It made us want to get up and be an Addams!

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By Giani Jones of Dillard Center For The Arts

When you’re an Addams, being considered abnormal is an inevitable trait that every member of this family wears fashionably. With that being said, South Plantation’s astounding production of “The Addams Family” triggered an eruption of applause throughout the audience, but what truly enhanced the allurement of this musical was the incorporation of American Sign Language.

“The Addams Family” is based on a ghastly American family with a fixation on darkness. Based on a comic strip by Charles Addams, the musical, created by authors Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, depicts the original characters’ personas rather than their portrayal through the television series and films. The musical revolves around Wednesday Addams’ secret proposal from Lucas Beineke, a “normal” kid. Wednesday then trusts her father, Gomez, with keeping her dark secret from her judgmental mother, which creates major issues within the family. As Lucas’ “ordinary” parents clash with the odd Addams, Lucas himself struggles to keep his relationship with Wednesday. One “normal” night can either tear a family apart or bring two strange families together.

At first glance, the brilliant set captured the audience’s attention. Every minor detail, from the cracks in the gravestones to the picture frames on the walls, complimented the Addams Family taste. The transitional lighting set the emotional moods between scenes and even built anticipation for the following scene. The creativity of the costumes and make-up added to the fierce nature of the musical, thus, making this quite a virile production.

The talented Monica Aivazian, who played Wednesday Addams, was a powerful singer with a voice to die for, literally. Jesse Castellanos, or rather, the “magnífico” Gomez Addams, stayed loyal to his character with his Hispanic accent and quirky gestures. Alexandra Moraru mirrored Morticia Addams as if she, in a previous life, had lived a life similarly; her impression was impeccable. “One Normal Night,” which included all members of the cast, was a favorite among the enthusiastic audience. Eyes stayed glued on the stage as the ardent characters dispersed their strong energies to the audience. The ingenuity of this musical number brought the essence of the musical to its pinnacle then held the show to its paramount capacity of greatness until the very end.

True talent derives from those who dedicate themselves to their roles; evidently, these characters were devoted. Genuine skill involves connecting to one’s character while both singing melodiously and interpreting through American Sign Language. As an overall musical, it was humorous and lively. Beyond any shadow of doubt, South Plantation’s stunning production of “The Addams Family” was well-constructed. With the inclusion of American Sign Language, so all audience may experience the passion, the musical was definitely extraordinary.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Death has never been so lively than at the hands of South Plantation High School, whose spirited take on THE ADDAMS FAMILY brought fresh, inspired twists to a beloved franchise.

Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, and Pugsley have enjoyed lucrative success on Saturday morning cartoons and the silver screen for more than 70 years, but it wasn’t until 2010 that they made their Broadway debut. With music by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, this musical adaptation of the classic Charles Addams cartoon characters ran for 722 performances. In the show, Wednesday Addams, the only daughter of the titular family, tries to keep her engagement to her charming boyfriend Lucas a secret from her parents, and the ruckus that ensues makes for two hours of twisted comedy and catchy musical numbers.

South Plantation made an ambitious choice of incorporating sign language into their production, but an extremely skilled cast executed the task gracefully. Instead of being distracting, this component was used to its advantage to build character. Each performer had a personalized way of signing, and each did so with astonishing skill.

Jesse Castellanos exuded charisma and owned the stage as Gomez, the flamboyant father of the family. Castellanos was a living cartoon – his remarkable physicality, facials, and sharpened comedic timing brought forward an irresistible, unparalleled energy. Alexandra Moraru nailed the deadpan humor of the Addams Family matriarch, Morticia, while still approaching the role with a confident charisma that built a solid presence in the show. Monica Aivazian gave a driven, rousing performance as Wednesday. Her magnificent vocal capacities were highlighted in showstoppers such as “Pulled” and “One Normal Night,” which despite their difficulty still featured Aivazian finding new colors in Wednesday’s dark demeanor through her enthusiastic characterization. Shea Rogus was consistently hilarious as Grandma Addams thanks to commitment to an uncannily accurate vocal tone and an impressive physicality which completely transformed the actress into her character.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY was a mesmerizing visual spectacle and exceptional technical achievement. The multilayered set was stunning to behold and was seamlessly handled by the stage crew, while the rich costume design was abundant in detail and added atmospheric allure to the production. Fluid choreography was performed cleanly by an impressive ensemble of ghosts, whose vocals throughout the show highly impressed thanks to strong command of harmonies.

An uncannily talented and passionate cast provided a night at the theatre which was truly to die for in South Plantation’s take on THE ADDAMS FAMILY. A toast, two snaps, and a round of applause for its thoroughly entertaining production!

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By Julissa Orozco of Cooper City High School

South Plantation High School’s production of “The Addams Family” was anything but a normal night, and tells the story of what happens when the darkest family in New York meet the sophisticated folks from Ohio.

“The Addams Family,” which was first performed in 2009, was based on characters created by Charles Addams, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The music and lyrics from the dark musical was written by Andrew Lippa. The story surrounds a family who live in the middle of central park, and their encounter with a group of people who are not so normal according to the Addams. Wednesday Addams is getting married to a sweet boy, Lucas Beineke, who does not fit the ideals of her mother; therefore, she begs her father promise not to tell her mother Morticia about the engagement.

The actors, and ensemble in “The Addams Family” had not only sung and danced, but they mastered the skill of doing sign language throughout the entirety of the production. All of the lead roles displayed strong characterization and humorous moments throughout the show. The choreography in the show was outstanding, especially during the “Tango De Amor.” As a whole, the cast of “The Addams Family” performed on a professional level that was not expected in a high school production.

Jesse Castellanos who portrayed Gomez Addams put on a hilarious performance as the silly Spanish father, who was torn between his wife and daughter. Morticia Addams (Alexandra Moraru) truly showed her dark side in the show, and she never fell out of character while acting, singing, dancing, and signing. Monica Aivazian starred as the seriously in love Wednesday Addams. Aivazian had outstanding vocals throughout every single one of her performances on stage, and stood out during “Crazier Than You,” along her partner Lucas Beineke (Jermacus Riggins) who put on a show stopping dance for his love interest.

The supporting cast brought comic to the show especially from the remainder of the Addams Family.The ensemble “Ancestors,” made the atmosphere even more deadly with their pale faces and dance numbers. With Pugsley’s (Adam Ortega) need for attention from his sister,Uncle Fester’s (Tyler Cole) affection for the moon, Grandma’s (Shea Rogus) performance during “What If,” and of course Lurch (Daniel Garcia) who took his time, the bizarre family was extremely amusing. Alice Beineke played by Kelly Walsh was the rhyming mother of Lucas, and vocals were notable during “Waiting.”

Sound and lighting was impressive and never once hitched or cut out. As for the set and costumes, the hard work from the cast and crew was clearly displayed on stage and accurately depicted the characters and their surroundings. The makeup on the cast clearly portrayed whether someone was the living dead or 102 years old; overall, the technical aspect of “The Addams Family” were commendable.

As a full disclosure, South Plantation High School put on a remarkable performance of “The Addams Family,” and honestly, the performance of the show was professional and well executed.

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By Tristan Hutchison of Cardinal Gibbons

Spooks, Frights, and “One Normal Night”. Sounds like the ingredients to a classic in the making, right? Well, you’re close! It’s South Plantation High School’s production of the off-beat musical, “The Addams Family.”

“The Addams Family” originally opened on Broadway in April of 2010, with Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa and Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. After 722 performances, the show closed on Broadway in December of 2011. Since then, “The Addams Family” has become a National Tour hit. The show follows the story of little Wednesday Addams, except she’s not so little anymore, in fact she wants to get married to a boy from a normal family! Wednesday decides to have her future in-laws, the Beinekes, over for dinner. There’s just one problem, Wednesday is afraid her crazy, black wearing, demented family will ruin everything. Wednesday makes her family promise to act “normal” just for one night, and pleads with her parents, Morticia and Gomez Addams, not to meddle or pry into her business. Shortly after the Beinekes arrive however, wackiness ensues, leaving for an unforgettable night of singing, dancing, and secrets being spilled!

This production showed off a variety of talent from its young cast. Some stand out performances include, Monica Aivazians’ portrayal of Wednesday Addams. Aivazian was a delight to watch on stage, especially during the song “Pulled.” Aivazians’ facial expressions were perfect for her character Wednesday. Another wonderful performance in this show was that of Jesse Castellanos, who played Gomez Addams. Castellanos was hilarious on stage. Everyone of his movements seemed like a cartoon character, big and over the top, which is how the character of Gomez should be. Castellanos was so into the character that he never lost his Hispanic accent, even while singing. The final performance that really stood out was Morticia Addams, played by Alexandra Moraru. Morarus’ performance of creepy yet sexy Morticia was spot on. Moraru really shined during her song “Just Around the Corner” where she not only sang but also did a choirs line with the grim reaper himself!

The cast as a whole did an excellent job. From the ensemble to the principle characters, everyone seemed to know what his/her job was. A very big highlight of this show was the eighteen piece orchestra that played all the music live onstage. The orchestra were so talented, that it sounded as though it was the original recording playing instead of a live band. Another interesting detail about this particular show was use of sign language. South Plantation High School is the only public school in the county that offers programming for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Therefore, the actors signed and acted at the same time throughout the show.

South Plantation’s production of “The Addams Family” was a wonderful experience. Through songs, dance, and sign language, the actors showed us “what it is to be an Addams!”

Reviews of The Drowsy Chaperone at Boca Raton Community High School on Saturday, 2/28

By Maya Quinones of Deerfield Beach High School

Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding. No, it’s not what you think. Wedding bells were ringing during Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”, and they rang loud and clear.

A fairly recent musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone” appeared on the Broadway stage in 2006, and won an impressive five Tony Awards. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, “The Drowsy Chaperone” has delighted musical theater lovers with its spoofs of classic 1920’s Broadway shows. Complete with non-threatening gangsters, a desperate Broadway impresario, an ethic lover, a talented female ingénue, and many other stock characters, the show is famous for poking fun at productions of the past.

Brendan Feingold plays Man in Chair, the Broadway obsessed narrator who plays his favorite musical soundtrack for the audience. As the soundtrack plays, the musical is brought to life on stage. Feingold had effortless humor in his role, and remained completely in character while watching his favorite show performed in his own apartment. Feingold executed an impressive character shift that allowed the audience to emphasize with his excited yet melancholy role. Valeria Castano plays Janet Van De Graff, a multi-talented woman engaged to Robert Martin, and equally talented oil tycoon. Castano was a true triple threat, with impressive vocal, acting, and dancing skills. In her stage stealing number “Show Off,” she showed her versatility by performing multiple stunts and feats. Trevor Wayne as Robert Martin had impeccable dance, vocal, and even roller skating skills, showcased in his delightful numbers “Cold Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”

Every actor committed to their stereotypical character throughout the performance. With his big hair and even bigger accent, Alejandro Esteves plays the role of Latin lover Adolpho. In his narcissistic number “Adolpho,” his impressive vocals succeeded in making his character extremely memorable. Channing Ramsey as the title character was also extraordinary. Alcohol in hand, Ramsey’s comedic timing and vocal talents resonated with audience members. At some points, the music overpowered the actors, making the lyrics somewhat difficult to understand. Despite this, the live orchestra never missed a beat, nor did the actors.

The set was full of musical theater eye candy, with dozens of playbills, posters, and memorabilia from Broadway shows adorning the walls. Set changes were swift, and the lighting varied from intense reds to evening blues. Large, full scale set pieces left the thought “Did they really just pull that off?” in the minds of the audience. From confetti guns to flare guns, props and special effects of the production never failed to thrill.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a sentimental, hilarious production for anybody who has plastered a Wicked poster on their walls or cried during an overture. It celebrates musical theater, while simultaneously making fun of the various quirks and clichés the genre has rightfully accumulated over the years. Boca Raton Community High School succeeded in bring this “musical within a comedy” to life, and cementing the love of the theater in the hearts of every Broadway fan.

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By Taylor Barth of JP Taravella HS

A modern day man drops the needle on his favorite vinyl creating magic on the Boca Community High School stage, making “The Drowsy Chaperone” a must see!

“The Drowsy Chaperone” with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, tells the story of the Man in chair who plays the record of his favorite musical and narrates the show as the recording ensues. This revved up parody of the 1920’s is full of laughter, over the top characters, and entertaining song and dance numbers.

Overall, the ensemble was very energetic and sang harmonies beautifully throughout the show. The principle roles and the ensemble had great chemistry and worked together very well to pull off challenging numbers such as, “Toledo Surprise.”

Brendan Feingold, who gave a dynamic and comical performance as the bubbly Man in Chair, was simply delightful. Narrating the entire show, Feingold was very natural and simplistic, while also delivering comedic quips with finesse. Not only did Feingold portray an old man commendably, he also gave a three dimensional performance, showcasing a sentimental side when speaking of the importance of “The Drowsy Chaperone” to the musical loving man. Valeria Castano depicted the vivacious Janet Van De Graff, with stunning vocal talent and quirky characterization. Castano was exceptionally noteworthy in her song, “Show Off,” with every flawless dance move and gorgeous high note.

The Drowsy Chaperone played by Channing Ramsey gave a phenomenal performance, delivering lines with impeccable diction and singing songs such as “As We Stumble Along,” with a crisp and mature voice. Proving to be a triple threat, Trevor Wayne, played Janet’s adoring fiancée, Robert Martin with hilarious characterization, remarkable vocal range, and impressive tap dancing. Mika Moore commanded the stage as Trix flying in on a massive plane and taking advantage of her limited stage time with her huge mannerisms and vibrant smile.

Technically, the show ran very smoothly with minor flaws. Props by Lorein Mones and company were incredibly well executed, capturing every detail down to the abundance of show posters on the walls, to the fully stocked refrigerator. Lighting by Paige Munguia and company was aesthetically pleasing as a whole but was overwhelmingly bright at times.

Boca Community High School’s riveting production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” was brilliant with extravagant choreography, great visuals, and strong vocal power among all.

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By Alejandra Duque of Cypress Bay High School

Prohibition? An uncertain wedding? Gangsters disguised as pastry chefs? And… Monkeys on pedestals?! Boca Raton Community High School’s production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is the cats pajamas!

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, which opened on Broadway in 2006 and won 5 Tony awards for it performance, is a musical comedy parodying American musicals in the 1920’s. Taking place in the apartment of a middle aged man, this ultimate musical theatre fan (referred to as Man in Chair), guides us through his favorite musical, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. As his record of the score plays on, the magic of the animated characters, extravagant dance numbers, and ambiance of the 1920’s come to life in his small apartment!

Leading the show as the Man in Chair was Brendan Feingold. Feingold’s performance in this role was not an easy one. Being on stage for almost the entirety of the show, he rarely got a break, yet, even in the smallest moments, he never lost connection with his character. Feingold made it easy to forget that he was a high school student. The diversity of Feingolds acting abilities should also be noted. He excelled not only in his comedic timing and making the audience laugh with his commentary, but also in setting a more serious mood and tugging at the audiences heart strings as he made us believe and feel for his character’s story.

Playing the role of groom Robert Martin in the fictional musical was Trevor Wayne. All aspects of Wayne’s performance proved to be top notch. Both his singing and acting was skilled, and his dancing, including several lavish tap numbers, proved to be superb. Portraying the title character of drunk diva, the Drowsy Chaperone, was Channing Ramsey. Never stumbling along in her performance, Ramsey delivered a clean, elegant, and hilarious presentation of her character.

The entire cast of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE was beautifully talented and worked extremely well together. In group numbers, the ensemble was always moving together and not one person was off. The cast worked with and off of each other impeccably well. Alec Taylor and Karlo Buxo, who played Gangsters 1 and 2 are perfect examples of this. Speaking mostly in pastry puns and acting in synchronized movements, it seemed as if these two boys were one. Their hysterical performance was in sync from start to finish.

Technically, the show was very nicely done as well. The attention to detail put into the technical aspects was astounding. The apartment set was decorated immaculately with musical posters, pictures of famous actresses, and everything else that one would think the Man in Chair would enjoy. Not a single prop went unaccounted for and the makeup for the whole cast was done appropriately. The old age makeup was especially impressive. Although at times, some lines were lost due to sound issues, it was not a detrimental problem.

This cast of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE should be especially proud of their work and performance of this show, it was truly one to show off!

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By Melissa Kean of Piper High School

Misplaced records, cunning references, roller-skates, and spit-takes were all pieces of Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”, leaving the audience feeling anything but drowsy.

This musical-within-a-play tells the tale of a man and his love for musicals, and once he puts on his record of the fictional musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, we are brought back to the 1920’s. From then on, we are being told the tale of young Broadway star Janet Van De Graff who falls in love with a man named Robert Martin and must give up everything to be with him. A series of troublesome events leads up to a big wedding. While the musical plays out, The Man in Chair narrates what’s happening to the audience in front of him. “The Drowsy Chaperone” won 5 Tony Awards in total and tells a story not quite like most. The book was written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, while the music and lyrics were written by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

Boca Raton Community High School’s production was lively and fascinating. Each joke was perfectly executed, leaving audience members throwing their heads back in fits of laughter. It seems as if the entire cast consisted of triple-threats, leaving anybody and everybody in awe from their performances.

Brenden Feingold, who played the adorable, mirthful Man in Chair, charms the audience with his likeable and relatable personality. Janet Van De Graff, played by Valeria Castano took audiences away and literally showed off her talents in the song “Show-Off”. Janet’s love interest, Robert Martin, played by Trevor Wayne, was charming and left the audience on the edge of their seats as he breezed across the stage on roller-skates – blindfolded! The Drowsy Chaperone, a drunk, dazzling woman, portrayed by Channing Ramsey, enthralled the audience with her humor and her amazing vocal performance during the song “As We Stumble Along”.

Other actors worth noting include Alejandro Esteves, who plays a Latin lover named Aldolpho, a name that will be stuck in your mind for weeks to come. Hayley Adams, who plays a over-dramatic, yet dedicated, mind-reader/actress named Kitty. Maxine Yeakle, who plays Mrs. Tottendale, perfectly achieved the spit-take several times. And last but certainly not least, Mika Moore, playing the brave and energetic Trix with admirable vocal performance and a pleasant personality. The ensemble was flourishing throughout the entire show, not one member noticeably missing a beat.

The technical elements, such as sets, make-up, costumes and lighting all helped make the production come together in such a captivating manner, leaving you wanting more from the moment the curtains close. There was a live orchestra that played in perfect timing with the singer’s; it seems as if the synchronization came naturally throughout the whole performance.

This beautiful show features a series of vibrant characters, eloquent tap numbers, beautiful sets, and engaging humor that will leave you both laughing and crying at the same time. And that’s exactly what Boca Raton Community High School did.

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By Christian Ubillus of Deerfield Beach High School

“Mix-ups, mayhem, and a gay wedding!” The perfect recipe for an entertaining musical! Mix in some jaw-dropping tap numbers, a professional orchestra, and a heartfelt story and you have Boca Raton Community High School’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone”, with a score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, tells the story of the Man in Chair, a nameless character stricken by an inexplicable sadness. To escape his sadness, he begins to play the record of his favorite musical, the titular The Drowsy Chaperone! He begins to narrate the story and the audience is transported to a world filled with loveable characters, such as the lovely Janet, the dashing Robert, and the ditzy Kitty. The musical both parodied and gave homage to the big and jazzy musicals of the 1920s and was the proud recipient of five Tony’s in 2006.

In order to put on this musical, it was crucial for the Man in Chair to be epitomized on stage. To say that Brendan Feingold did a commendable job is an understatement. His presentation was relatable, comedic, earnest, and perfectly executed. He not only managed to move the story forward, he also moved the audience to experience the story the way he did, a feat that only a professional actor can accomplish.

Headlining the musical within the comedy was the beautiful bride-to-be Janet Van De Graff (Valeria Castano). We saw her command of the stage as a triple-threat in the ode to herself, “Show Off.” The groom-to-be Robert Martin (Trevor Wayne) dazzled spectators with his goofy charisma and his tapping feet, comically stepping into the role of the dashing and somewhat dim leading man. Also, embracing the somewhat inebriated demeanor of the Drowsy Chaperone herself (Channing Ramsey), Ramsey filled the stage with her powerhouse acting and singing, whilst filling her character with multiple dimensions.

If you think it was only the principal characters who led the show though, you are sorely mistaken. Both the gangster ensemble and the wedding party ensemble proved hilarious to watch. Their synchronization with each other and exquisite vocal and dancing talent helped capture the atmosphere of the show in its entirety while providing a high energy performance.

The technical aspects of the show took this spectacle to the very next level. Costumes reflected the personalities of each character, lighting contributed to the overall feel of the story, and the flawlessly handled special effects within the “Show Off” number made it a visual exploit. The only hindrances in this category were the occasional microphone problems that made some words slightly difficult to hear, but it was a miniscule disturbance.

Ironically, though the Man in Chair was supposed to be the one escaping his sadness within this musical, we found ourselves forgetting about our lives and escaping with him to Boca High’s “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Reviews of Twelfth Night at Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday, 2/22

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Stoneman Douglas pitched up a circus tent for their Twelfth Night celebration in an ambitious re-imagining of this Shakespeare classic. It was quite the unprecedented visual treat for an audience anxious for monologues and soliloquies, but more conservative Shakespeare aficionados can rest assured that neither flying acrobats nor clownish antics upstaged the charming wit of the beloved source material.

Written by William Shakespeare around 1601 but published in 1623 as part of the First Folio, this comedy was written to celebrate the Twelfth Night holiday (the twelfth night after Christmas.) Fully titled Twelfth Night or What You Will, follows the story of Viola, a young woman separated from her brother in a shipwreck. To get a job with the regional Duke, Viola dresses up like a man – what ensues is a hysterical hodge-podge of gender-bending, deception, and next-level love triangles that make the melodramatic puppy-love mishaps of the Twilight saga seem like child’s play.

As if handling a Shakespeare play wasn’t enough of a challenge, student director Melissa Mauer chose to infuse a circus theme into the production. The subsequent byproduct of this boldly imaginative choice stands as a testament to the value of the fearless brand of commitment and creativity that made this production so unique and entertaining. Not only did this risky endeavor open up the play for broader appeal amongst amateurs to the Shakespeare anthology, but the huge extent and impressive execution of the circus concept make Mauer worthy of a lavish round of applause.

The grandeur of the idea was beautifully conveyed in the vivid, picturesque set which was clad in towering silk fabrics and rich color pallets and which was expediently handled by the stage crew. The costume design featured an extravagant and colorful variety of detail and cartoonish playfulness, and lighting and sound design were extremely clean and well managed. Perhaps the most impressive facet of the show’s visual allure was the striking difficulty and sleek execution of acrobatic choreography.

Twelfth Night’s cast approached their roles with palpable enthusiasm, and such spirit prevented them from being swallowed up by the difficulty of the material. For example, there was a collective command of physical comedy that gave for consistently entertaining gags – most of these involved a troupe of clowns who’s fantastic facials and physicality made slapstick interludes hilarious and memorable.

Ana Hymson gave an organic, nuanced performance Olivia, the Countess that falls in love with Viola’s male persona. Between earnest facial expressions and an impressive accent, she demonstrated the clearest understanding of her character and her dialogue. Brendan Duff and Jonathan Baron, who played Orsino and Malvolio respectively, were the driving forces of the show’s comedy. Sharp line delivery, excellent comedic timing, and strong stage presence made these performers audience favorites.

What’s next for Stoneman Douglas? Hamlet on a cruise? Romeo and Juliette in space? Who knows! But if one thing is for certain, it’s that an impressed audience is sure to return for whatever Stoneman Douglas chooses to do next after watching the splendid creative and technical achievement that was Twelfth Night.

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By Juliette Johnson of Deerfield Beach High School

Where can you find a mélange of a Shakespearean classic, aerial silk acrobatics, and slapstick comedy? Nowhere else but Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ performance of “Twelfth Night”! Creating a new take on an old show, Douglas’ production blends everything you love about the circus with the fun and comedic aspects of Shakespeare’s show.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” is a play is about twins Viola and Sebastian who were separated by a shipwreck. They both arrive in Illyria without knowing that the other is still alive, ensuing chaos in the city. Viola disguises herself as a man, calling herself Cesario, and somehow earns the love of Olivia, whose father and brother have recently passed away. However, Viola’s twin Sebastian has found a love for Olivia, while Viola falls in love with Duke Orsino. As Viola becomes entangled in her lies and her secret identity, at the end of the show, the truth unfolds and everything works itself out.

Director Melissa Mauer’s re-envisioning of “Twelfth Night” to fit it to a circus theme not only made the show unique, but also added to the comedy of Shakespeare’s jokes and puns, and overall made a spectacle for the audience.
Olivia, played by Ana Hymson, showed great dedication to her role. It was apparent that she spent great time in memorizing and understanding her lines, as the often tricky and confusing Shakespearean language was delivered with ease.

Viola (Brianna Bopp) effectively played her role as a woman pretending to be a man. Although she was ironically short and had a high pitched voice, her mannerisms still reflected that of a man, which at times made her character very convincing.

Malvolio, played by Jonathan Baron, spoke his lines seamlessly and with a confidence that matched that of Malvolio’s character. As the comic relief, he was sincerely hilarious and had such great energy that added to the enjoyment of the production.

The dancers and acrobats, led by choreographers led by Danielle Jensen and Theresa Prayther, did incredible tricks and stunts throughout the show, but did not take away from the actors while they were performing. The scene changes with the clowns and the slapstick bits were fun to watch and showed adherence to the theme. Set changes were prompt without any noticeable flaws and sound and lighting were appropriate for the show.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas took on a great challenge in putting on a Shakespeare play, and they went above and beyond to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone in the audience.

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By Oliver Shore of North Broward Preparatory School

The lights shone down on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s stage, sweet music filled its theater, and jugglers and fat ladies entertained its audience members. While it was not the typical Shakespeare show, Stoneman Douglas’s circus themed ‘Twelfth Night’ was no doubt a new and refreshing take on one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Shakespeare wrote the comedic ‘Twelfth Night’ in the early 17th century. The show follows Viola as she washes up on the Illyrian coast after being shipwrecked and separated from her brother. Alone in a foreign land, she dresses up as a man to obtain work in Duke Orsino’s court. Hilarity ensues from there as Viola manages to get caught up in a love triangle, in a case of mistaken identities.

Brendan Duff, Duke Orsino, opens the show with a passionate appeal for the music to ‘play on.’ His passion and energy remained high throughout the show as he captivated audiences with his booming voice and devotion to love. Ana Hymson made it clear why Duke Orsino was so infatuated with her character, Olivia. Hymson’s clear diction, regal actions, and acute understanding of text, made her a pleasure to watch. Brianna Bopp preformed the role of Viola. Bopp did well, as she undertook the difficult task of acting as both Viola and her male disguise Cesario.

Being one of Shakespeare’s comedies, this production of ‘Twelfth Night’ certainly brought laughs. Jonathan Baron as the disgruntled Malvolio, proved himself to be an accomplished actor with a keen sense of comedic timing. Baron’s stage presence and animated demeanor made him focal point of the production and an antagonist we loved to hate. Similarly, Feste the jester, played by Dylan Baierlein, lit up scenes with his witty humor and thoughtful advice.

The Circus ensemble provided even more humor to the already strong comedy. The physical humor and wild shenanigans served to quicken transitions and show off the talent of the ensemble. The Fat Lady, played by Ariel Baron was a standout, and Sir Toby Belch and Maria, played by Liam Eagan and Kelsey Healey, respectively, had brilliant comical and romantic relationship.

Student Director Melissa Mauer showed her abilities as both a director and leader in the production of this amusing play. The lights, sound, and make-up were well executed, and served to produce an engaging show. The costumes, though not always period, were well worn and helped create the illusion of a circus.

With their bold choice of placing Shakespeare in a circus, the cast and crew of ‘Twelfth Night’ put on a nice comedy that delivered both touching themes and feted laughter.

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By Melody Zapata of Western High

Aerialists on silks, clowns playing pranks, and ax throwers pieing faces? Sounds more like a wild circus act than a Shakespearean comedy? Welcome to the world of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s “Twelfth Night.”

Written by William Shakespeare around 1602, this classic play focuses on a love triangle between Duke Orsino of Illyria, wealthy Countess Olivia, and Viola, a young lady who disguises herself as a man named Cesario. And just to add to the complication of love triangles, Viola’s thought-to-be-deceased twin brother Sebastian appears on the scene, adding confusion of mistaken identity.

However, Stoneman Douglas went above and beyond. Lead by Student Director Melissa Mauer, this production of Twelfth Night was reimagined in the context of a traveling circus, complete with clowns, tents, dancers, and ringmasters to completely capture the slapstick comedy and lively wordplay of Shakespeare.

Liam Eagan, who played the part of Sir Toby Belch, excelled in his role as a drunk. Every tip of the flask and slurred word was in tune to the comedic timing of the scene and made his performance a memorable one. His calculated physicality and facial expressions were truly highlighted when a swordfight ensues and he defends himself while inebriated.

The technical aspects of the show were fundamental to the success of this production. From the costumes, makeup, and lighting design to the stage managing, properties management, soundboard operating, and choreography, the hard work and dedication allotted to this student orchestrated show is incredibly admirable.

In regards to the student direction (Melissa Mauer) and choreography (Danielle Jensen and Theresa Prayther), it was pleasant to see the careful staging of this show. The central actors were not upstaged in spite of the various ensemble members playing busy circus performers and the dancing in several musical interludes added to the lighthearted atmosphere of the circus. The properties design (Emma Popkin) and makeup design (Michaela Bajic) was visually appealing. The props were appropriate to each scene and character, while the makeup enhanced the circus performers’ part in the production whether they were a clown, jester, or aerialist.

Overall, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s cast of Twelfth Night did well with a piece that is very difficult to understand and perform due to its difficult Elizabethan era language. Transforming a classic Shakespearean play to a more contemporary setting while not changing a single word of the original script is a challenging task, but the success of their production showcased this cast’s work ethic and ambition.

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By Kelsey Malanowski of North Broward Preparatory School

Women dressed as men, love triangles, and aerialists- this, and much more, were found in Stoneman Douglas High School’s dynamic and ambitious performance of “Twelfth Night”.

Written at the turn of the 17th century, “Twelfth Night” is a comedic play written by the one and only William Shakespeare. Twelfth Night is about illusion, deception, disguises, madness, and the extraordinary things that love will cause us to do and see. The play centers on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. It then follows Viola who, dressed as a man, ends up in a love triangle with the Duke Orsino and Countess Olivia. In this particular rendition of “Twelfth Night”, the antics of the characters are heightened by setting the play in a circus.

Leads Viola and Orsino, played by Brianna Bopp and Brendan Duff, were undaunted by the large amounts of Shakespearean dialogue that they had to deliver, and never faltered. They had great stage presence and took command of the stage. Likewise, Ana Hymson portrayed her character, Countess Olivia, with excellent grace and poise, making her a joy to watch.

Also, as comedy is a huge part in this play, Liam Eagan as Sir Toby Belch played an excellent drunk, and his peerless ability to bring both physical and vocal comedic aspects to “Twelfth Night” was very important. His partner and crime Maria, played by Kelsey Healey, captured the larger than life personality of her character very well, and her scenes with Toby were always fun to watch.

The performers who made up the ensemble did a wonderful job of staying committed throughout the entire show and in keeping the performance exciting and interesting. Specifically Bradley Thornton excelled in bringing his character Antonio to life in a subtle yet effective way, showing clear mastery of the Shakespearean language.

Technically, the show was superbly executed. The lighting and sound were especially great and enhanced the actors’ already delightful performance. The props and set were also very impressive and the fun, colorful circus look added to the enjoyability of the show.

Overall, the hard work and dedication shown by the entire cast and crew was evident, resulting in a well-run, entertaining performance from the students of Stoneman Douglas High School in “Twelfth Night”.

Reviews of West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde on Feb.19

By Kelly Walsh of South Plantation High School

Although your neighborhood pink-loving sorority princess isn’t always viewed as the “serious” one, West Broward High makes it clear that there’s more to books than just their covers in their production of “Legally Blonde.”

From the famous novel, Elle Woods’ journey through Harvard has been adapted for the screen and the stage. Elle is not only a glorified fashionista, but is also the president of Delta Nu, a sorority house. Warner Huntington III, needing someone with more structure, breaks up with Elle. Being so love-struck, she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School, where she discovers that not only can she win a murder trial with her new-found passion for law, but can also find sincere love within the confidence of being herself.

Bringing that peppy presence to the stage is Kimberley Lucas, who showed off her vocal ability strongly in “So Much Better.” The polar opposite of Elle, Emmett Forrest, was played by Kyle Christensen, who brought the perfect amount of “lovable dork” into his character. Even though the chemistry and connection between actors could’ve been more believable, the evolution of their characters is definitely something to be noted.

Colin Miller, in the role of Professor Callahan, did an exceptional job portraying the mature nature of his character. Misha Chavez, portraying Warner Huntington III, seemed well cast in the role because of his serious, but dimwitted fitting character choices. While some actors needed to increase the focus in the scene on stage, the cast for the supporting roles seemed to fit very well.

The ensemble put on a fantastic high-energy performance in “Whipped into Shape,” while maintaining strong choreography and vocals. In some numbers, like “What You Want,” timing for the choreography could’ve been more together. In others, the energy was at a level high enough to make the scene more captivating.

The accents added to the show by lighting, like the Irish flag during “Ireland,” gave an interesting visual to the show. Although some cues seemed to be late, the pink accents provided the tone for the scenes and the different colors set the mood.

Beneath that pink couture, Elle has proved to everyone that she is capable of anything, no matter what the task, as long she trusts herself and appreciates who she is. West Broward High should be proud of the Delta Nu attitude that they flaunted, showing off the passion for fellowship and confidence.

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By Juliette Romeus of Stoneman Douglas High School

Storming into Harvard with cheerleaders instead of a personal essay? An imaginary Greek Chorus? And even Irish dancing? Omigod you guys! West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical follows the personal journey of everyone’s favorite blonde as she takes the law world by storm.

Based off the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name, Legally Blonde opened up on Broadway in April 2007. With Music and Lyrics by Neil Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe and Book by Heather Hach, the upbeat musical received several Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations. The story follows Elle Woods, the sorority Delta Nu President at UCLA. After being dumped by her boyfriend for not being ‘serious’, she follows him to Harvard Law to try and rekindle their romance. With some help from new friends, Elle realizes that she is more than just her blonde hair and someone’s pretty girlfriend: she can truly become a lawyer and help those in need.

The title role of Elle Woods was played by Kimberley Lucas. Lucas kept her character’s high-demanding energy throughout the duration of the show. It was clear she understood her character, as her jokes and attitudes came naturally. Alongside Lucas was Kyle Christensen, portraying the role of the hopeful associate, Emmett Forrest. Christensen accurately played the role of the cliche nerd, naturally using characterization choices such as shy glances and nervous fidgeting. Although together, their characters’ relationship initially lacked a developing relationship, they smoothly recovered in Act Two. Their duet, “Legally Blonde”, displayed their strong connection and their character’s love for each other.

Supporting Lucas and Christensen were Kira Rivera and Colin Miller, respectively playing the roles of Paulette Bonafonte and Professor Callahan. Rivera had a charming stage presence as the hopeful hairdresser, and her spunky character especially shined in her number, “Bend and Snap”. Miller played the role of the strict law professor. His physicality, along with his strong vocals, allowed him to confidently carry out Callahan’s role with strong acting.

The ensemble was an immense part of this production, participating in almost every song. Although some members of the ensemble were lacking in character, as a whole they had great energy while they danced and sang. The Delta Nu trio of Serena, Margot, and Pilar positively stood out and maintained their energetic personalities throughout the duration of the show. Featured roles such as Kyle the UPS Guy and Brooke Wyndham gave a memorable and impressive performances, even with their limited stage time.

Technically, the production’s sound had some microphone issues with some characters. However, they did not persist and the performers actively tried to project more to cover up for their microphones as well. Other aspects, such as lighting and costumes, all proceeded more smoothly in Act Two.

West Broward’s production of Legally Blonde reminds us all to not judge a book by it’s cover- there is more to a person than meets than eye, so give them a chance- you never know what you’ll find!

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By Matthew Gavan of Pope John Paul II High School

Blood runs pink in West Broward High School’s production of Legally Blonde. When the curtains open, the audience is immersed in bustling dance numbers, heart wrenching duets, and an extremely sensual delivery man.

The story of Legally Blonde is based on a novel written by Amanda Brown, which also had a film adaptation in 2001. The show takes you on the journey of Elle Woods, the Delta Nu sorority president, who travels to Harvard after her boyfriend Warner dumped her. After arriving at Harvard, murder, romance, and a Greek chorus ensue.

Elle Woods, who was played by Kimberley Lucas, showed great vocal range and energy in all of her numbers while also giving her own unique touch to the character. Although she lacked in some acting aspects, Kimberley had a visible connection with her character and other characters.

Kyle Christensen, who played Emmett Forrest, did a great job in the acting aspect of his character. While managing to be a comedic character of sorts, Kyle also succeeded in transitioning his character to fit the deeper parts of the show and even managed to succeed in the vocal parts of the show.

The audience received quite the package when Kyle Valencia, who played Kyle the UPS guy and Carlos, arrived. Even with a little amount of stage time, Kyle’s physicality left the audience laughing. Kyle even managed to incorporate his comedic character into an Irish dance number during “Legally Blonde Remix.”

The ensemble showed great coordination throughout the show. Songs such as “So Much Better” truly revealed the ensembles ability to harmonize and dance. A lack of energy shown by blank faces throughout the ensemble was rectified by the synchronization during dance numbers.

The sound crew, run by Ryan Doherty, Matthew Roza, and Kelsey Ramon, appeared to be having microphone issues during the first act, but these issues were eventually resolved. Lights, run by Eric Dietz, Ariel Fethiere, and Gabe Camargo, were well done. Despite the delayed spotlights, the light design was very well done and there appeared to be no serious issues.

Stage crew, run by Amy Coisnard and Alyssa Kobb, did a nice job at scene changes during running scenes. While the transition took time, the stage crew was not distracting and silent during the transitions.

With genuine characters, a generally energetic ensemble, and small amount of technical errors, West Broward High School’s Legally Blonde presented an upbeat show about defying the norms.

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By Daniel Agmon of JP Taravella HS

What happens when a naïve blonde valley girl, an imaginary Greek chorus and an endearing miniature dog, attend prestigious Harvard Law School? West Broward’s “Omigod” production of “Legally Blonde” will surely tell you!

“Legally Blonde”, based off the 2001 movie of the same name and with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and a book by Heather Hatch, was originally produced on Broadway in 2007 and nominated for seven Tony awards. The story revolves around Elle Woods, the blonde queen of the sorority Delta NU, who becomes heart broken when her boyfriend, Warner, breaks up with her for a more serious, more studious girl. Elle, however, persists in following him, by getting accepted to Harvard Law School herself, where she realizes even the most challenging obstacles can’t stop her – even if she is blonde.

Kimberley Lucas starred as the fashionable Elle Woods in an admirable performance. Her vocals were noteworthy, especially in the song “Legally Blonde.” She overcame the adversity of numerous quick costume changes, accomplishing the task without one mistake or late cue. Her chemistry with the love interest, the nerdy Emmet Forrest played by Kyle Christensen, was delightful and captivating.

Colin Miller portrayed the character of Professor Callahan exceptionally well with his realistic acting choices, making him seem older than the rest of the cast. His vocals were impressive, notably in “Blood in the Water.” Kyle Valencia mastered the role of Kyle the UPS Guy with his outstanding comedic timing and dazzling high-spirited dance skills. His energetic acting and suave delivery of lines contributed to the show immensely.

As a whole the ensemble lacked some accuracy in their harmonies, but this was more than compensated for by their high energy and enthusiastic dance moves. The projection of the cast could have been improved, but the diction was clear and the dialogue was understandable.

Sound was done by Ryan Doherty, Matthew Roza, Kelsey Ramon and company. While they could have mixed the sound from the actors’ microphones with the monitors a little better, the microphones were clear and gave no feedback at all. The lights, designed by Eric Dietz, Ariel Fethiere, and Gabe Cargo, were presented well with very few mishaps and helped tell the story with cheesy spot light moments and pink hues.

Stage crew, run by Amy Coisnard and Alyssa Kobb and company, moved sets on and off swiftly without distraction, however some of the crew were observable on the corners of the stage waiting to move the set. The makeup for some characters was beautifully done and notably assisted Professor Callahan with acting the age of an older professor.

West Broward High School’s drama department got “Whipped Into Shape” for their Cappies debut of their “Positive”-ly fun packed production of “Legally Blonde”!

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By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

Elle Woods might be blonde, but she’s not “that” blonde. She can litigate with the best of them and the bubbly Miss Woods has a few things to teach the up and coming lawyers at Harvard Law in West Broward High School’s production of “Legally Blonde”.

Amanda Brown’s novel “Legally Blonde” inspired both movie (2001) and musical (2007) of the same title. The stage adaptation was nominated for seven Tony Awards and features music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The protagonist, Elle Woods, is a perky, blonde, Malibu Barbie replica who follows her ex-boyfriend cross-country to Harvard, for all the wrong reasons. In the process of trying to win him back, Elle realizes that she has a true passion for practicing law despite the expectations of others.

Kimberly Lucas (Elle Woods) maintained a highly polished presence onstage. She drew and commanded focus. Elle is written as somewhat larger than life, but Lucas managed to bring an organic energy to the character that tethered her to reality that made her performance both charming and relatable. Kyle Christensen (Emmett Forrest) also performed well in that aspect as the geeky love interest.

Colin Miller (Professor Callahan) exhibited smooth vocal technique and consistency in the maturity he brought to Callahan, as a high school performer. Alexys Carballea (Brooke Wyndham) managed to perform demanding choreography while singing. While the cast overall featured a handful of standout performers, Kyle Valencia (Kyle the UPS Guy) stole the show. Valencia had an obvious understanding of his role’s physical humor and a mastery over the choreography.

The Delta Nu Trio (Frankie Storfer, Sarah Gorfinkel, Stefanie Prieto) had a great energy that fit the show very well overall. Storfer (Margot) and Gorfinkel (Serena) especially were consistently strong performers. Some relationships could have used more development but the vision for the show seemed to acknowledge the strengths of each performer and featured the talents of both great and small in appropriate ways.

Both sound and makeup could have benefitted from a heavier hand. The lighting department added complexity to their design by using side lights that sometimes were delayed or drew attention away from the scene, but the thematic colors, like pink for Elle or the Irish flag during Ireland were whimsical and added a nice touch.

Beneath the pink frills and rhinestones, “Legally Blonde” is truly an anthem of feminine strength, touching on themes such as loyalty to friends, personal motivation, true love, and most importantly, letting your inner light shine through.

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Reviews of Coral Glades High School’s production of
Pippin on Feb. 20

By Magali Trench of Cypress Bay High School

The typical “Happily-Ever-After” plot line may be attractive to generations of younger individuals, however, what happens when the “real world” takes over and a show presents real people, real music, real endings? Pippin, that’s what happens. Coral Glades High School’s performance of the Tony Award-winning musical showed the audience this “real world” in a beautifully-executed production. Pippin, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and script by Roger O. Hirson, steps outside of the usual musical boundaries and explores true life, something that very few shows take the risk of capturing.

First appearing, and advancing the story’s progression, was the character of the Leading Player, played by Sophia Young. Understanding and fully committing to what her character demanded of her, Young commanded the stage with such ease and filled the space with her strong vocals and vibrato. Progressing alongside the story she was telling, Young portrayed this “transformation” very clearly, allowing the audience to pull away at the layers of superficiality to see the true meaning of the show itself. Following in her own character’s footsteps, Young kept the energy at an all time high, motivating those around her to do the same.

As we follow the almost relatable story of young Pippin, Daniel Lemache, playing this lost boy, never once strayed away from what his character demanded and truly embodied the role wholeheartedly. Through his use of defined acting choices, Lemache took charge of what his character asked of him and crafted a truly believable and authentic performance. Acting as his love interest and guide to what he was searching for all along, Haley Amann, playing the character of Catherine, helped to truly ground the show. With both actor’s great comic timing, yet full understanding of when to be serious, Lemache and Amann acted with such genuine chemistry and as a great duo.

With truly unforgettable stage presence and energy, the characters of Berthe, played by Lena Armas and Theo, played by Eli Flynn showed us all how to make even limited stage-time worthwhile. Armas took the stage by storm with her song “No Time at All,” leaving the audience erupting with laughter and singing along, except for the verses of course; those were hers. The character of Theo, although having a “small” part, had no small performance. With his beloved duck by his side, Flynn knew how to effortlessly work the audience and even when not speaking, had all eyes drawn to him.

With a cast of performers who were willing to jump through hoops for you, literally, to truly convey the metaphorical and symbolic significance of Pippin the Musical, the Band of Players complimented the leads excellently, while still embracing their moment to shine. With a stage filled with picturesque sets and through the vivid use of makeup and lights, Coral Glades High School did a great job of putting on a show that always gave the audience something to look at and constantly left them thinking.

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By Thomas Neira of Stoneman Douglas High School

With daring stunts and dazzling costumes Coral Glades High School sure has “Magic to Do” in their outstanding rendition of Pippin.

First appearing on Broadway in 1972, the blockbuster features the timeless story of Pippin, a young man struggling to find the meaning of life and happiness. The original production under Bob Fosse received 5 Tonys and 5 Drama Desks, and the revival under Diane Paulus was equally acclaimed securing 4 Tonys and 5 Drama Desks.

In a musical with such a large amount of group numbers, the ensemble is a fundamental aspect of the show. It is undeniable that the Band of Players in Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin lived up to the challenge and essentially anchored the show. Aside from being a cohesive group, each ensemble member clearly understood his or her respective character, effectively expressing individualism in their makeup, costumes, and mannerisms without being distracting.

Leading the show were Daniel Lemache as Pippin and Sophia Young as the Leading Player, and it is difficult to imagine any one else filling these two vocally demanding roles. Their astonishing musicality was merely one of the many highlights of their performances. An iconic element of the show is the interaction with the audience and “breaking the fourth wall”. Lemache and Young engaged the audience with such panache that they made the laborious task seem almost easy. Apart from dexterously bridging a relationship with the audience and undeniable vocal talent, Lemache was distinguishable by his ability to also connect with his fellow actors and his obvious comfort on stage made a truly believable performance. Young’s consistency and confidence commanded attention and smoothly steered the show.

Another outstanding performance was Haley Amann as Catherine. Playing the sweet, lovable widow, she captured more than just Pippin’s heart as her beautiful voice rang through the theater. The featured actors in this show proved that much stage time isn’t necessary to make a lasting impact. Lena Armas as Berthe brought laughs and smiles during her spectacular sing-a-long “No Time At All”. Eli Flynn as Theo was equally lively and remarkable. And Julia Mattos was no ordinary ensemble-member; her flawless dancing was captivating and her facials never faltered.

The technical aspect of the show was impressive, considering the magnitude of the production and limitations imposed by not having a home theater, but there were still a few issues with the sound and delayed light cues. The costume designer Manni Arango creatively hand crafted the majority of the costumes, masterfully capturing the characters’ personas in her designs.

Overall, Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin was truly a mystical and exotic journey, so join them, go and waste an hour or two! Doo-dle-ee-do!

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By Christian Hernandez of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Coral Glades Drama pitched the tent for its performance of Pippin in the auditorium of J.P. Taravella High School, contributing to a real-life sense of a traveling acting troupe that is written into the metafictional and frequently self-referential show. The Tony-winning musical, which opened on Broadway in 1972 and was revived in 2013, is popular for high school and community theater production for its fun story and minimal set pieces.

A circus-themed ensemble works itself around a decorated and lit-up platform under the direction of their Leading Player, a ringmaster-style character who helps to relay the story of Pippin, son of the legendary King Charlemagne, as he embarks on a quest for meaning and fulfillment. The story of Pippin, set in a very liberal version of the Middle Ages and very loosely based on actual historical precedent, tackles modern issues of war, politics, and love.

Daniel Lemache plays the young royal with earnest innocence and plays off the performances of his castmates. Yusuf Qurashi plays the role of Pippin’s father, Charlemagne, as a very comedic contrast to Pippin mature and philosophical nature. In fact, Pippin’s entire family often interrupts his contemplation in outlandish fashion, as the prince must contend for his father’s attention with his scheming stepmother and meathead half-brother, respectively played by Manni Arango and Austin Blake. Lena Armas completely steals her scene as Berthe, Pippin’s paternal grandmother, as she demonstrates to Pippin how to loosen up and live a little in the song “No Time At All.” The role demands an actress with a large stage presence and Armas enthusiastically steps in, even more so to the audience’s delight as she calls them to participate in her chorus and a screen drops to display the words of the song.

The Leading Player (Sophia Young) nicely transitions from a playful performer in Act I to a more grizzled supervisory role in Act II. Throughout the first act, Sophia Young entertains the audience with song and dance while the cast prepares for the next scene behind the curtain. Despite a few swallowed lyrics, her voice and movements were very good. In the scene to open Act II, she and Pippin show off their dance skills as they commit to jumping, moving, and shaking their hips in tandem. Later on, the Leading Player displays her frustrated side while commanding the stage crew to dismantle the set, shut the lights, and turn off the music only to then exit the stage in a huff because Pippin has undermined her “vision” for the finale spectacular. Rounding out the main cast are Catherine (Haley Amann) and Theo (Eli Flynn), a humble mother and son pair who show Pippin the joys of an ordinary life. Amann had a lovely singing voice and Flynn made a strong impression by making the most with his limited stage time.

Coral Glades Drama evokes the glamour of a circus act with on-stage acrobatics and extensive Fosse-style choreography, complete with a hat and cane sequence. Students put together the colorful costumes of the ensemble, as well as the large number of props that were brought in and out of the performance. Tech managed itself well with unobtrusive lighting and only a few instances of microphone reverb.

The elements of the show blended together to fulfill the promise of the opening number. Coral Glades indeed made theater magic and in the process “spread a little sunshine” with its production of Pippin.

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By Katie Mechlin of Suncoast Community High School

Pippin is one of the most celebrated musicals of all time. Coral Glades’ production of Pippin would make the creators proud. The set was minimalist, yet very lively, and the ensemble was a delightful group of students who were always full of enthusiasm. For the audience, Pippin provided plenty of magical moments.

Pippin has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. It was originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, whose style is very prevalent through the show. In 2013, the show was revived with a totally different aesthetic, one that Coral Glades’ joyfully borrows. The show follows the life of prince Pippin and his journey for meaning.

Key performances of the night came from Sophia Young as the Leading Player, and Daniel Lemache as Pippin. Young maintained an entertainingly faux and sinister demeanor as the show’s enthusiastic narrator, while Lemache provided a conflicted yet appealing character in the form of awkward Pippin. Additionally, Lena Armas as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe was one of the most memorable performances due to her genuine hilarity and comic timing during her song “No Time At All”.

Haley Amann as Catherine stood out vocally during the second act, where she provided the natural warmth that was desperately needed in an otherwise flashy show. Her singing was consistently beautiful and she provided some very impressive harmonies during her song with Lemache called “Love Song”.

The costumes were very well-crafted and fit the setting well. Each ensemble member wore an original costume that felt unique, but never taking away too much attention from the action. Each student designed their own makeup and applied it themselves, which is remarkable given that they all looked so polished. Finally, the set was a very innovative way to tell the story, with one smaller stage inside the stage. Platforms on either side allowed for levels and certain dance numbers.

Another very impressive thing about Coral Glades’ Pippin was the number of gymnastic and acrobatic tricks that ensemble members performed. Julia Mattos, in particular, displayed a wide variety of stunts that were all phenomenally executed. There were dance numbers involving giant green exercise balls, cartwheels and stilts. All of this made the circus theme from the revival feel more alive and it is highly commendable that the students performed these stunts with such accuracy.

All in all, Coral Glades’ production of Pippin was enjoyable and fun. The comedy was very well executed, the singing was confident and the set was vibrant and effective. All of the students involved should be very proud of their simply magical performance.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Not all heroes wear capes – or stilts, or bedazzled leotards. Come peek under the curtain of Coral Glades High School’s production of Pippin, an ambitious concoction of back-flips, sword fights, soaring melodies, and airborne acrobatics grounded by the enthusiastic talent of its memorable leads.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Pippin opened on Broadway in 1972 and ran for 1,944 performances. Its 2013 Broadway revival was a critical and commercial success, being nominated for ten Tony Awards and winning four. In the show, a theatrical circus troupe plays out the story of Pippin, the son of a medieval king who sets out to find his place in the universe and unearth the extraordinary life he wishes to live.

Sophia Young led us through this seemingly light-hearted story with delightful quirkiness and presentational zeal as the Leading Player. Her facials and mannerisms gave the character a presence and a playfulness that commanded the stage, and her ability to find the different levels of theatricality and creepiness within the Leading Player exemplified the complexity of the source material.

Daniel Lemache drew us into Pippin’s quest to find his “Corner in the Sky” through a down-to-earth take on the titular character. This humble demeanor and comfort on stage gave the performance charm and likability, which helped invest the audience into his journey. Haley Amann breathed fresh, natural energy in a balanced and organic performance as Catherine, Pippin’s love interest. Her tender, powerful vocals complemented this solid characterization to give the show strong emotional depth. The comfort these actors demonstrated with their roles was not always mirrored in other performances, some of which felt slightly forced and contrived. Additionally, many performers lacked projection and enunciation in their dialogue and thus detracted from the clarity of the plotline.

Lena Armas and Eli Flynn were brilliantly hilarious as Berthe, Pippin’s exiled grandmother, and Theo, Catherine’s son, respectively. Armas’s on-point comedic timing in the sing-along crowd anthem “Time to Start Living” made the number a show highlight and the performance an audience favorite, while Flynn’s hysterically peculiar take on Theo had the audience cackling during moment he had on stage. Flynn’s impressive ability to draw humor from body language and facials translated to his dramatic scenes, where he deliver poignant emotion in an almost complete absence of dialogue.

Coral Glades had a lot of “Magic to Do” and not a lot of time to do it, having had only three days of rehearsal in a borrowed venue. In spite of this, an eclectic design was successfully managed and gave the production many impressive moments of stylistic atmosphere. The picturesque set was nicely complemented by lively student-designed costumes; the acrobatic-infused choreography was impressively executed by animated dancers, something that made up somewhat inconsistent harmonies in larger-scale numbers. Sound issues such as heavy feedback and inconsistency in mic management drew the audience out of several numbers, but actors did well to not have these issues affect their performances.

It was a bold choice to pitch up a circus tent for their latest theatrical endeavor, but after a night of pirouettes, hula-hoops, magic tricks and sing-alongs, Coral Glades’ committed cast made Pippin a successfully entertaining visual treat.

Reviews of Cooper City High School’s production of Hair on Jan. 30

By Alexis Krigger of Pine Crest School

Far out, man! Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” gave audience members a glimpse into the lives of the members of the love-filled, peace-loving Tribe.

James Rado and Gerome Ragni’s Grammy and Tony-award winning musical, “Hair“, tells the story of a group of young hippies as they face the many common issues of 1960s American life. The story focuses mainly on a few strong members of the Tribe: Berger (Peter Pera), Claude (Alec de Jesus), Sheila Franklin (Francesca Maurer), Jeanie (Donni Rotunno), Hud (Pedro Garcia), Woof (Sergio Owen), Dionne (Margaret McVay), and Chrissy (Isabella Share Tocci). Politically active Tribe members express to the audience their strong beliefs and passions. The long-haired male members of the Tribe actively fight against conscription into the Vietnam War, but when it’s Claude’s turn to be drafted, he must decide to side with either his rebellious friends or his pressuring parents and the rest of conservative America.

Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” was consistently energetic and left no silent pauses as it flowed through scenes and musical numbers. Although occasionally a little overly stereotypical, the cast members’ portrayals of hippies were kept up throughout the entire performance, keeping an entertaining and convincing atmosphere on stage. Audience members were actively engaged in the story as a result of the effective audience-interactivity aspect of the show, to the point where some of us felt like we were missing out a bit when the actors on stage did not come into the audience during their high-energy finale.

Alec de Jesus’s portrayal of Claude both charmed the audience with his believable embodiment of the character as well as full scenes and songs sung in a remarkable English accent. His melodious vocal ability and believable acting kept everyone emotionally involved with his character up until the finale. Francesca Maurer played Sheila Franklin with a conviction that made protest scenes more powerful while keeping songs emotionally rounded.

Peter Pera’s Berger gave us all the comic relief we needed when he bounded onstage with his spirited and effervescent performance. Jacob Rones and Jennifer Lopez, who played Hubert and Margaret Meade, kept up the comedic mood when they emerged from the audience and onto the stage to deliver their scene and had the audience cracking up. Isabella Share Tocci’s both remarkable and adorable vocal performance as Chrissy offered a glimpse into the romantically comedic mind of her character, and Sergio Owen’s delivery of Woof’s comedic lines was delightfully well timed. Aside from some mumbling and occasionally weak volume, both supporting actors and ensemble members stayed in character and were almost always fully engaged with what they were doing onstage.

The simplicity of the set matched the realistic costumes, both of which combined with the colorful lights and a groovy glowing trashcan to create a psychedelic atmosphere for the story to unfold. It was surprising to hear backing tracks with vocals in some songs, but the cast’s performance of the song “Hair” and the powerful a cappella portion of the finale was emotionally compelling and kept up a fast-paced energy.

The comedic aspects of the musical were strong and blended well with the more serious scenes, but chemistry between characters was not quite as believable. Overall, Cooper City High School’s production of “Hair” was an enjoyable experience for audience members, despite a few weak areas.

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By Daniella Tovar of Western High

Long hair and flower crowns were all-galore in Cooper City High School’s production of Hair. Enlightening the audience with ensemble numbers and idealistic scenes, it was definitely not a musical to miss.

Hair, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, takes viewers back into the 60s during the Vietnam War with a bang and transports them to a hazy dream of vivid colors. The musical is a display of the hippie culture of the time including the historical sexual revolution and stays true to being a conceptual musical. It revolves around three teenagers (Claude, Berger, and Sheila) who attempt to balance their lives while Claude is being drafted into the military. When it first opened, red flags shot up at the content of the musical which included nudity, sexuality, and the use of illegal drugs. It opened on Broadway in 1968 and proceeded to be revived twice more in 1977 and 2009. It was also nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award in ‘68 and won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2009. The musical exploits many themes relevant to today’s society such as race, sexual freedom, drug use, and religion.

CCHS’s production was successful in pinpointing the important aspects and views of the hippie culture. The show allowed the audience to experience the revolution through their own eyes and they were given vivid characterization through the actors.

Alec de Jesus developed Claude’s character vibrantly and thoroughly, allowing the audience to see the maturation in the persona. He lived up to the vocal demand of the part without any hesitation. Berger, a lively character, was shown to the audience by Peter Pera with excitement and vitality that added to the character’s quick wit and high energy. Berger and Claude’s strong independent roommate, Sheila, was played by Francesca Maurer. She did a sensational job at defining her character from the beginning and carrying her out with clear vocals.

Although it was difficult at times to fully comprehend what was being said, the cast did a phenomenal job at expressing the production’s controversial themes through the ensemble numbers. The vocals were outstanding and the staging allowed the hippie tribe to be seen as a whole unit who all had something in common. Seeing more developed relationships between characters is something that would have helped the production as a whole, but the cast’s ability to conform during large group numbers replenished that.

The lighting aspect perfectly complimented the time era being reflected and set the tone for each scene or song. The visual effects, such as the small sun in the back during one of the numbers, enhanced the lighting and overall performance.

Cooper City High School tackled an extremely difficult musical without missing a beat and made “Hair” into a raw, eye-grabbing production.

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By Melody Zapata of Western High

Tripping on acid, growing long hair, and burning draft cards? Sounds more like the hippie movement of the 1960s than your everyday musical. Welcome to the psychedelic world of Cooper City High School’s “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.”

With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot, “Hair” made its original, highly controversial Broadway debut in 1968, catching worldwide attention for challenging many of the norms held by Western society during the 60s and early 70s. The concept musical encompasses themes relating to sexual freedom, pacifism, and religion, equality between men and women, and racial discrimination that stirred threats and acts of violence against the show’s touring casts and lead to two U.S. Supreme Court cases.

With a legacy and mark on history as abundant and powerful as the one left by “Hair,” the themes and messages of this musical can be difficult to communicate to a high school audience by a teenage cast, but Cooper City High School did a phenomenal job of keying in on the emotional and social challenges faced by the hippies of the 1960s.

Alec de Jesus played Claude, a young man who is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and has to decide between standing up for his pacifist principles or conforming with the rest of conservative America. de Jesus’ stage presence, vocal strength, and commitment made for a successful performance as the leading character of this production. His skillful switch between the British accent used during “Manchester, England” to the American accent used throughout the rest of the show was instrumental to the characterization of a man struggling to solidify his identity in a changing society.

Peter Pera (Berger) and Francesca Maurer (Sheila Franklin) made exceptional additions to the cast. Pera’s consistent energy and physicality were instrumental in contributing to the comedic relief of the production. The stage and ensemble seemed to light up in scenes where Pera had lines, playing off of his incessant energy and character commitment. Maurer’s rendition of “Easy To Be Hard” exhibited her as one of the strongest female voices in the cast and was one of the moments that captured the intended “rock musical” style of show.

Some featured characters like Margaret Mead, played by Jennifer Lopez, and Woof, played by Sergio Owen, highlighted the social statements tied with the comedy of “Hair.” Woof’s infatuation with Mick Jagger was brilliantly showcased to reveal the hippies’ stance on free love while Lopez’s performance displayed a rejection of sexual repression.

Overall, Cooper City High School’s cast of “Hair” did exceptionally well with a piece that involves complex themes of the sexual revolution and anti-war era. Their hard work and dedication to the show was seen in the ensemble’s energetic and entertaining performance.

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By Erin Cary of University School of NSU

Colorful clothes, burning draft cards, and long, beautiful hair! It’s the groovy revolution at Cooper City High School’s far out production of “HAIR”.

In the “Age of Aquarius”, a tribe of freedom-loving hippies fights against the oppressive policies of the times and the drafting of young Americans into the Vietnam War. But when one tribe member, Claude, receives his draft card, he begins to fall out of the anti-war mentality and to question his path for the future. “HAIR” first played off-Broadway in October of 1967 and made its Broadway debut in April of 1968. The show received a Grammy Award for its music, written by Galt MacDermot, in 1969. The book and lyrics, written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, delve into questions of American nationalism, love, drugs, freedom, and war. With its bold statements on American politics and culture, “HAIR” has engaged audiences for over 45 years!

The leads of Cooper City’s production carried energy from number to number, consistently engaged and alert. Alec de Jesus (Claude) created a believable character and portrayed a continuing struggle between standing up for his freedom and fighting for his country. His strong vocals and character work helped to convey the complexity and dimensions of Claude’s nature. Francesca Maurer depicted the love and anger of Sheila Franklin in fluid transitions. Her vocals added to her emotion and created dynamic between characters.

The supporting roles of “HAIR” also created an energetic environment for the audience and for their fellow actors. Peter Pera (Berger) always displayed engaged enthusiasm, creating an eye-catching stage presence. Whether he was the star of the scene or reacting in the background, his character never wavered from the zealous tribe leader that the audience met in the very first scene. His vocals, movements, and expressions created a strong character from start to finish. Doni Rotunno brought to life the Earth-loving, Claude-loving, soon-to-be mother, Jeanie. Rotunno’s vocals and interactions added to her performance and strengthened the show’s theme of love.

Despite some performers who appeared disengaged, the majority of the cast put solid effort into each scene and song. Sergio Owen hilariously carried out Woof’s one-sided love affair with Mick Jagger, making the audience burst into fits of laughter. Margaret McVay (Dionne) and Isabella Share Tocci (Chrissy) displayed incredible vocals in numbers like “Aquarius” and “Frank Mills”. The ensemble numbers, “Hair” and “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)”, rooted the audience members in their seats, expressing power and pain. The audience interaction added another element to the show, effectively putting the spectators right into the 1960s.

The lighting and costumes of the show aided the actors in accurately conveying the time period. Although some lines were lost because of problems with the microphones, the actors made up for it with their skill in projection and pronunciation.

The emergence of hippie counterculture was meant to make Americans think about their freedom and about their happiness. Too easily, Americans now push away those parts of the hippie movement in favor of the bright colors and the crazy hair. Cooper City High School’s beautiful execution of “HAIR” used those colors and that hair, along with quality vocals, excellent character work, and great stage presence, to remind people what the “Age of Aquarius” was really all about.

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By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

Beads. Flowers. Freedom. Happiness. A tribe of young, rebellious souls form a tight-knit family of their own during the time of the Vietnam War; the iconic story was shared in Cooper City High School’s recent production of “Hair.”

Hair,” which is known as “the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is comprised of music by Galt MacDermot and book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. The controversial musical, which was the first of its kind, tells the tale of Claude Bukowski, draftee and tribe leader; George Berger, Claude’s eccentric friend; Sheila Franklin, who is lovestruck and dejected, and the many members of their tribe. “Hair” was awarded a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical in 2009.

Cooper City High School’s production was anchored by the strong ensemble work in much of the show.

Alec de Jesus (Claude) had one of the strongest voices on the stage. “Manchester, England” was a vocally impressive number in which he sang in a consistent and convincing English accent. de Jesus was eye-catching during ensemble scenes and musical numbers, and worked to develop the maturity that his character acquired throughout the show. Francesca Maurer (Sheila), who was front and center to lead the tribe’s chants, created a great spotlight moment for herself with her performance of “Easy to be Hard.”

Peter Pera (Berger) proved himself to be a strong stage presence, dialing up the energy and bringing the fun to the production. His acting was consistent and the physical choices he made conveyed the free-spirited nature of the character. In the last few moments of the show, he brought a solemn maturity to the stage that was perfectly suited to the plot. Margaret McVay (Dionne) was a vocal powerhouse, leading “Aquarius” expertly, and lending strength to “Three Five Zero Zero.” Isabella Share Tocci danced and sang beautifully; “Frank Mills” was a very sweet moment! Jennifer Lopez (Margaret Mead) and Jacob Rones (Hubert) were a comedic highlight of the performance as they interacted with the ensemble after an energetic performance of the show’s title number, “Hair.” Each member of the ensemble transformed into a distinct character, and much of their vocal work was impressive. Many actors needed to form clearer relationships to better relay the complex plot to the audience, and some needed to make better use of the stage during musical numbers, as they often became stagnant.

The lighting used in the show was intricate and appropriate. Gobos were used to make psychedelic patterns on the cyc, and moving lights added to the overall tone. There were some microphone issues, but most of the actors with faulty mics were able to project well enough to be heard. The tracks played for musical numbers were slightly awkward, as the music stopped completely for dialogue instead of the underscoring being included. This left some vocalists stumbling when the music started back up after their dialogue.

Cooper City High School took on a very challenging and mature script, but they “let the sunshine in” to their performance to create a lively production!

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Reviews of Plantation High School’s Annie on Jan. 23

By Trent Hampel of Western High

With countless conflicting views about today’s economic crisis, we often overlook how similar situations affected families in the past. Severe financial struggle forces an immeasurable amount of parents to give up their children for adoption. In Plantation High School’s rendition of Annie, the audience travels back in time to witness the obstacles and trials overcome by America’s most iconic redheaded orphan.

Harold Gray first created the story in his nationally acclaimed comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” in 1924, which Charles Strouse converted into a hit musical in 1977. Annie ran for six years and achieved the Tony for Best Musical in the year of its release. It chronicles the story of an orphaned girl named Annie invited to Christmas with billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks; the duo then launches a nationwide search to locate Annie’s biological parents.

Kaley Nelson (Annie) presented a tireless, childlike energy coupled with impressive consistency in her role. Nelson maintained an infantile voice and bounced around the stage with excitement in all her movements, ranging from her innocent grins to her unexpected hugs. Nelson also displayed impressive vocal talent in songs such as “Tomorrow” and “Maybe.” Francisco Jimenez (Oliver Warbucks) established himself as a patriarchal figure with his smooth voice and composed demeanor. Jimenez revealed lyrical ability in “N.Y.C.” and demonstrated versatility, shifting from a businesslike manner in phone calls with the president to comedic timing in his whimsically awkward radio appearance.
Rachael Rampersad (Grace Farrell) delivered eloquent articulation that only enhanced her singing capability. Rampersad juxtaposed pleasantly with Jimenez with her serene voice and caring facial expressions, such as knitting her eyebrows and pouting her lips when expressing concern. Kyle Achaibar (Rooster) added a sly persona to the show. His slow voice and movements with his cunning smile introduced him as deceptive and clever.

Chad Rodriguez (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) drew attention whenever on stage. His beaming expressions, audible voice, and lively fist pumps truly animated his character and added a humorous component to the performance. Ashley McFadden (Miss Hannigan) captured the lunacy of her character primarily in “Little Girls.” McFadden paced the stage with a drunken stride, exaggerated arm swinging, and fed up attitude. Other notable performers included Isla Jaquith (July), Teodora Marcella (Duffy), and the orphans as a whole.

The set and props were executed remarkably well with evident attention to detail, for example, the hanging street signs and grandeur of Warbucks’ house. Unfortunately, microphones were sporadic and constantly disrupted the focus of the actors, who did not always project when necessary. There appeared to be numerous missed cues with the timing of songs and line delivery respectively, while ensembles fluctuated with vital energy. Despite frequent setbacks in the second act, the cast exceptionally maintained composure.

Plantation High School’s Annie boasted a talented cast regrettably plagued by costly technical problems. Overall, the performers on stage put forth an admirable effort into delivering an entertaining show and worked with what they had to the best of their abilities.

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By Shea Rogus of South Plantation High School

When the roaring 20’s ended with the crash of 1929, America had very little hope left. The iconic story of “Annie” personified the childlike hope needed in the Great Depression. In Plantation High School’s production of “Annie” this sense of hope was effervescent.

Annie”, presented by Mike Nichols, is one of the most iconic rags to riches stories of all time. When we first meet Annie she is living in an orphanage waiting for her biological parents to come back for her. This lively eleven year old temporarily moves in with billionaire Oliver Warbucks for the holidays but then permanently moves into his heart.

Plantation’s cast embraced the youthfulness of “Annie.” Although they were blindly tasked with various technical issues, the cast kept the upbeat rhythm of the show.

Kaley Nelson (Annie) embodied the hopeful adolescent with her cheerful voice and smile. With each reprise of the song “Maybe”, Nelson’s childlike hopefulness grew with the character. Francisco Jimenez’s (Oliver Warbucks) powered through sound issues with his vocal projection, stiff mannerisms, and Sinatra-esc voice that fit the character nicely. Nelson and Jimenez’s duets had a beautiful vocal mix that accompanied their flourishing father- daughter relationship.

Contrasting Nelson’s sweet characteristics were Ashley McFadden’s (Miss Hannigan) sour ones. Despite McFadden only being a teenager, the use of bitter facial expressions assisted her in her characterization. When McFadden was not always the easiest to understand, due to technical sound issues, her body language filled in the gaps. Rachael Rampersad’s (Grace Farrell) optimistic depiction of the thoughtful character supported the actions of Nelson and Jimenez as the plot continued. Even though he was only present in a few scene, Chad Rodriguez’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) upbeat performance was an extra comedic relief to the storyline.

From the opening scene of the show until the curtain closed, the rag-tag female ensemble that played The Orphans kept a whimsical liveliness to their slum. The servant ensemble in Warbucks’ estate maintained a professional appearance but not every actor stayed in character during longer scenes. While standing at attention their harmonies were often overpowered by the named characters.

Technical aspects of the show reinforced the era in which it took place. The student director, Larissa Angrisanio, did a commendable job with creating diverse stage pictures. The set, designed by Angrisanio and McFadden, captured the essence of the 1930s setting. Although some set pieces could have had more use, the attention to detail was rather impressive. The duration of the change of set pieces took away from the world of the show as did technical issues in sound.

Plantation’s take on this iconic rags to riches story restores smiles and hope to a new generation.

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By Felicia Reich of American Heritage School

Complete with singing, dancing, and a red headed dynamo, the sun sure did come out for Plantation High School’s production of Annie.

Based on the beloved Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the musical Annie found great success in its almost six-year Broadway run, numerous national tours, and Tony award.

When an eleven-year-old orphan living under the harsh care of Miss Hannigan spends the Christmas holiday with New York tycoon Oliver Warbucks, young Annie’s life is changed forever. A symbol of guidance and optimism for America, Annie reminds the world to never forget what hope lies in tomorrow.

While Plantation High’s production suffered some unfortunate technical missteps, the performers handled each error with professionalism and poise. The energy of the actors remained impressively consistent despite the offstage faults.

Moreover, Kaley Nelson in the role of Annie created a rich and believable character. Her gait, vocal cadence, and overall physicality wholly resembled that of an effervescent eleven-year-old. Both her and her counterpart, Francisco Jimenez (Oliver Warbucks), succeeded in developing a lively onstage connection.

An outstanding supporting cast member, Rachael Rampersad, as Grace Farrell, brought a light and a high quality of entertainment to the stage with each appearance. She remained engaged with her fellow actor’s and committed to her performance. While the ensemble struggled with the occasional pitch issue, Farrell’s performance and vocal quality remained constant throughout. Additionally, Natajah Fuller (Lily St. Regis) offered the audience an impressive comedic energy.

Although there is plenty of room for improvement in the technical categories, there is something to be said about a technically student-driven show. Most of the costumes were fitting to the Great Depression era and the hair and makeup of the Boylan Sisters looked clean, polished, and accurate to the time period.

The combination of talent, passion, and commitment from the cast members of Plantation High School’s Annie proved to be the perfect ingredients of a truly enjoyable show.

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By Miranda Vogt of North Broward Preparatory School

Plantation High School’s production of “Annie” shone like the top of the Chrysler building. A student directed and produced show, “Annie” showed the passion these students had for theater.

Based off of the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, the musical premiered in 1976, bringing the timeless story of a rags-to-riches little girl with a fighting spirit and a stray dog to life. “Annie” takes place during the Great Depression and presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (depicted in the musical). The iconic image of the red-haired orphan girl signified hope in a better tomorrow.

The students at Plantation High School certainly brought that message to the stage. Though at times a little messy, the dedication to this production was clear to see. As a whole, the cast was energetic and worked well together, even when mistakes or disturbances occurred. Stage pictures such as in “Fully Dressed” and “Fully Dressed (Children)” were a treat for the eye. The whole cast and crew made the best of the resources they had at their disposal.

Francisco Jimenez as Oliver Warbucks brought the true fighting spirit of the musical to the production. Even when there were difficulties with his microphone, he fought through them and improvised during unintentional pauses, showing the true meaning of “the show must go on.” In musical numbers such as “I Don’t Need Anyone But You” and “N.Y.C.”, he showcased his musicality as well as his acting talents. Kaley Nelson, playing Annie, brought further spirit to the stage. Her rendition of “Maybe” was touching, and she had definite dog-whispering capabilities.

Chad Rodriguez as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a delightfully comic cast member who made any scene he was a part of instantly funnier. Who says the President can’t enjoy a nice rendition of “Tomorrow” during a cabinet meeting? And Ashley McFadden played the over-the-top Miss Hannigan with gusto and humor that was well appreciated by the audience.

The technical side of the show was a little distracting to audience members at times, and sometimes took characters out of the scene: the microphones sometimes had feedback and the music track was late a few times. Though illuminating upstage well, lighting was a little lacking when the cast members came downstage. However, considering the incredible feat of student directing, producing and teching an entire high school show, the crew should be praised for their effort and ability to go above and beyond what was expected.

Plantation High School’s “Annie” certainly left the audience smiling. Even with technical difficulties and a little improvisation, the hard work the cast and crew put into this show was evident, and you can bet your bottom dollar that this production’s Sandy was the cutest dog to ever have that role.

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By Laralee Simpson of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The ‘hard-knock’ musical Annie always has a certain place in people’s hearts. From the classic movie from 1982, to the most recent movie from 2014, the name ‘Annie’ always seems to ring some sort of bell in people’s head. The iconic musical was showcased through laughter and emotion in Plantation High School’s production of Annie.

Taken from the time era of the Great Depression in 1933, a hopeful orphaned girl named Annie has been dreaming about having parents of her own for her entire life. She tries to dream and imagine what they could be like. The orphanage she lives in is run by an abusive, self-centered woman named Miss Hannigan. The orphan Annie eventually becomes the interest of a billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. The story just builds off from there!

There were quite a few technical mistakes during the performance, ranging from microphone problems to songs being delayed. Nevertheless, the student performers continued to push through and continue their scenes. If a mic went out, they just made more of an effort to project towards the audience.

Kaley Nelson played the iconic role of Annie in the production, perfectly mastering every aspect about the part. Considering Nelson is not 11 years old, she had to come out of her comfort zone and her present herself as a young child to the audience. She did this astonishingly well and had you actually thinking she was a younger than her actual age. Oliver Warbucks, played by Francisco Jimenez, deserves to be commended as well. Jimenez probably had the most trouble with his mic out of every performer in the show, and though the audience was unable to hear Jimenez on and off throughout the show, he pushed through and continued to be as big as possible for the audience to clearly see his character.

Ashley McFadden took on the role of the cruel Miss Hannigan. She had the audience laughing throughout the entire performance, with her drunkenness and her disgust with little children. Chad Rodriguez, playing the role of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, kept the audience in stitches, as well. His presence just brought a joyful demeanor to the room that had everyone smiling whenever he would deliver his lines.

Though the set design was simple, it conveyed the different locations by all of the little details produced by the students. Everything from the paintings in the orphanage to the Christmas tree in Oliver Warbucks’s mansion had been decorated and moved to fit the scene. The crew and actors paid attention to detail which definitely paid off.

Overall, the cast of Plantation High School’s Annie had the audience laughing while they brought to life the iconic story of Annie, everyone’s favorite orphan.

Reviews of A Few Good Men at Archbishop McCarthy High School on Saturday, 11/1

By Kimberley Lucas of West Broward High School

There were far more than a few good elements in Archbishop McCarthy High’s “A Few Good Men.” When a code of “Unit, Core, God, Country” becomes more than just words to live by, a struggle to find the distinction between what is right and what is moral becomes an overbearing struggle, and not everyone could “handle the truth.”

Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama set in the summer of 1986 depicts the event of a questionable murder in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When two marines are arrested for what seems like homicide of a fellow marine, unlikely teammates fight to defend those accused, seeking the real reason behind the events at “Gitmo.” Premiering on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in New York 1989, “A Few Good Men” brings themes of what is right and what is correct; and the struggle between following an order and following morals, to light.

Focus and energy were two key components of the cast, who doubled as the crew. The lack of microphones was almost completely unnoticeable in the black box theatre as projection and articulation only faltered sparingly. Scene changes were quick and fluid, making the pacing of the show synchronized with the anxious mood of the mysterious plot.

The performance by Eric Maltz was well carried out for the iconic role of Daniel Kaffee. His deliverance of subtle humor was the ideal comic relief for a play of such serious nature. Most noticeably creditable was Maltz’s execution of the transformation from a careless, happy-go-lucky lawyer who had never been in a courtroom into a driven, passionate man determined to find the truth behind the events of Guantanamo Bay. Sharing the stage with Maltz was Rachel O’Hara (Joanne Galloway), whose characterization and focus on stage is worthy of mention. O’Hara not only acted well as the part of Galloway, but reacted with facial expressions that gave vivacity to her character. The two were an excellent pair, bringing to life Kaffee and Galloway’s balance of skill and determination.

Two performers that stood out in the supporting cast were Nicholas Palazzo (Matthew Markinson) and Matthew Salas (Nathan Jessep). Palazzo displayed great conflict as Markinson, highlighted in scenes with his superior officer, Jessep. His tragic monologue in full uniform was powerful, passionate, and insightful, highlighted only by the dramatic music emphasizing the enormity of his words. Also delivering an effective monologue was Salas, whose performance of the well known “you can’t handle the truth,” made hairs stand on end. Salas gave great animation to the antagonist that everyone loves to hate.

Most prominent technical aspects were the use of lighting and sound. With over 80 light and sound cues, each was timely and exact, as well as appropriate for each scene. The play consists of many flashbacks, which could be difficult to portray, but the dramatic melody in the background of significant moments as well as mysterious blue lighting was both natural and effective. The sound levels never overbore the actors on stage, and the chanting of soldiers in between scenes was a good reminder of the play’s setting and theme.


By Lauren Hutton of American Heritage School

“You can’t handle the truth!” The iconic line is screamed by an enraged colonel as he defends his morally questionable actions in a high stakes courtroom murder case. Suspense builds as a passionate young lawyer delivers each impactful word, the judge loses her collected façade as the fate of two young marines becomes uncertain, and a virtuous captain turns the trigger on himself under the crushing weight of a guilty conscience. Archbishop McCarthy’s performance of “A Few Good Men” was incredibly suspenseful, emotionally draining, and surprisingly comedic.

“A Few Good Men,” written by Aaron Sortkin, began on Broadway in 1989 and ran successfully for 497 performances. It was later adapted to a 1992 movie with the same title, starring Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson. The courtroom military drama shifts from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Washington D.C. in 1986.

The show follows two military lawyers and a determined commander as they attempt to defend two marines accused of murdering a comrade, in a controversial ‘code red.’ The complicated story line follows an abundance of twists and turns, as the ever illusive truth is simultaneously sought after and concealed.

The technical elements of this show were exceedingly powerful and helped portray the strained mood and add to the intensity of every moment. Dramatic blue lighting during solemn flashbacks, the colors of the flag portraying a bold backdrop, and daring red light highlighting the danger of certain moments were extremely effective. The music, played live, was also seamlessly incorporated to make every moment more impactful. The army chants during scene transitions, the chaotic beat adding pressure to the already desperate lawyers, and the solemn piano notes aiding in emotional monologues made this production all encompassing and extremely poignant.

The entire cast was incredibly dynamic. The sheer strength, and at times terrifying brutality of military officers, the almost robotic loyalty of marines, and the passion of those fighting for justice was impressive to say the least. Lead lawyer Daniel Kaffee, played by Eric Maltz, had the most intensely captivating performance. He grew from an arrogant Harvard graduate with little actual experience, to a genuine and passionate man fighting for justice. His comedic timing was impeccable with clever quips and genius physical gestures, but he triumphed when he became more invested, as the case progressed. Every moment of his shouting, broken-down state was heart wrenching and rousing.

Mathew Salas as Nathan Jessep was the perfect villain, an officer so sure of his convictions he couldn’t admit that his need for power and respect had made him cruel. His physicality and general impact were stirring and frankly, terrifying. He commanded the stage with a believable authority.

As men in uniform stand and chant the marine loyalty code, “Unit, Corp, God, Country” as a mindless defense for a brutal act, the morals of military conduct are brought to center stage. “A Few Good Men” was an engaging, emotional, and thought-provoking performance that was executed beautifully.


By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

Can you handle Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of ‘A Few Good Men?’ Chock-full of intense standoffs, heart-pounding drama, and an overarching moral ambiguity, Archbishop McCarthy showed us that sometimes, the line between right and wrong can be a bit blurry.

Written by Aaron Sorkin (of ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Newsroom’ fame), ‘A Few Good Men’ premiered on Broadway in 1989. The successful play was later adapted into the well-known film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The story follows a team of lawyers who uncover a high-level military breach as they defend their clients, two marines who are on trial for the murder of a fellow soldier.

Archbishop McCarthy High School took the challenge of performing this iconic show head-on. The entire cast was fully committed to their characters, and their deep understanding of the complicated emotional nuances of the play shone through from beginning to end.

Eric Maltz as Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee, the Harvard-educated defense lawyer whose initial indifference to the outcome of the case transitions to overwhelming passion as the trial proceeds, showcased his character’s development with true professionalism. By the end of the show, one couldn’t help but root for Kaffee as he zealously defended his clients. In much the same way, Rachel O’Hara’s portrayal of Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway, a hard-headed internal affairs lawyer who works her way onto the defense team, tugged at the heartstrings. Her enthusiasm for the role was evident, especially as her character developed into more than just a “by-the-book” rule-follower.

Among a particularly strong ensemble, two showstoppers were Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep, the main antagonist whose orders caused the eventual death of his soldier (played by Matthew Salas) and Jackie Ross, the prosecuting lawyer who gives the defense a run for their money (played by Bella Miulescu). Salas’ command of the stage, especially during such iconic lines as the impassioned “You can’t handle the truth!”, and ease with which he played his mature character made it difficult to believe that he was only in high school. Miulescu’s portrayal also contributed greatly to the intense back-and-forth of the courtroom, and her overall strong performance added to the professionalism of the show as a whole.

Tech aspects of the show ran smoothly. Set changes (performed by cast members) were seamless, and sound and light cues were completed with near-silence and obvious precision. Though some might consider a black-box theatre to be a challenge, Archbishop McCarthy handled it with ease.

Ultimately, Archbishop McCarthy High School embraced ‘ Few Good Men’ with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. Through their supremely entertaining performance, they showed us that passion leads to triumph, and that the truth will always come out in the end.


By Ana Hymson of Stoneman Douglas High School

Unit, corps, God, country: the motto of the United States Marines stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In an attempt to uphold these values, two teenage Marines follow fatal orders from a commanding officer, and so began Archbishop McCarthy High School’s Production of “A Few Good Men.”

“A Few Good Men,” written by Aaron Sorkin, was famously adapted into a screenplay for the 1992 movie. It is the story of two young Marines who are on trial for murder of a fellow corps member, and their lawyers, Daniel Kaffee and Joanne Galloway, who face many moral conflicts as they decipher how far someone will go to “just follow orders.”

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production was anchored by the cast’s unwavering understanding of the script’s complex plot and mature subject matter.

Eric Maltz (Daniel Kaffee) tackled his multi-faceted role with great skill. He seamlessly transitioned between moments that were vastly different in nature, turning moments of drunken stumbling into those of enraged yelling with ease. Rachel O’Hara (Joanna Galloway) created a clear, believable arc for her character. She gave dimension to the role with impactful facial expressions and a sharp wit. Maltz and O’Hara developed incredibly genuine chemistry that lent a cinematic quality to their time on stage together.

Matthew Salas (Nathan Jessep) embodied his role with all of the maturity and authority necessary to make the character, who is the primary antagonist, what it needed to be. He followed through with all of his acting choices deliberately and decisively. Bella Miulescu (Jackie Ross) brought just the right degree of aggression and passion to the stage. Remaining in character at all times, Miulescu made a highly convincing lawyer. Kevin Fitzpatrick (Sam Weinberg) provided a few well-timed moments of comic relief, which, juxtaposed with his more intense moments, proved his prowess in making character choices. Juan Arcila (William Santiago) and Alex Palazzo (Julia Alexander Randolph) made great use of their limited stage time; Arcila revealed the raw fear of a tormented Marine while Palazzo unraveled the impartiality of a military judge. All of the actors worked well together, reacting to and playing off of one another consistently and realistically. The men of the show, especially, held themselves with commendable confidence that allowed each actor to develop a distinct physicality.

Stage manager Christine Fanchini made the production run smoothly, even without a stage crew, by coordinating scene transitions to be executed by the actors. The transitions were smooth and swift, never drawing attention away from the scenes that happened simultaneously. The live music that underscored the scenes was a perfect touch in that it added drama and tension without being overwhelming. The cadence calls played during some scene transitions added to the military atmosphere.

Archbishop McCarthy High School did not shy away from the challenge of such a controversial show and proved that they have more than a few good men and women among them.


By Patricia Pimentel of West Broward High School

Unit. Corps. God. Country. These are the themes prevalent in “A Few Good Men,” brought to the court (and to the stage) by Archbishop McCarthy.

Written by Aaron Sorkin, “A Few Good Men” follows the trial of two U.S. Marines accused of murdering a fellow officer. The military lawyers, in the process of building a defense for their clients, are forced to question morality, loyalty, and ultimately, what constitutes the truth. The play first opened on Broadway in 1989, and was adapted into a successful film in 1992.

Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway (Rachel O’Hara) is an immediate source of vitality in the production. Her spunky, undaunted attitude pours forth from her first moments onstage. Galloway’s drive in her mission to defend the young Marines radiates from O’Hara’s expressions and body language. O’Hara’s performance is energetic and wholly present, and she meets her match when Galloway is introduced to Lt. J.G. Daniel A. Kaffee (Eric Maltz). Maltz builds Kaffee’s character throughout the course of the show with incredible skill; starting off as carefree and indifferent toward the case he’s been assigned, he rises to the occasion and takes to the courtroom in an unforgettable fervor. Throughout the production, O’Hara and Maltz create a dynamic connection, using humorous banter and high-stakes moments to develop a relationship between their characters — not only as professionals, but as people.

The content of the show in itself makes it difficult to pull off at a high school level, one of the reasons being that many characters have life experience and authority that most teenagers do not. That said, Matthew Salas made it easy to forget all of that in his portrayal of Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep. His presence is commanding and condescending, clearly comfortable in a position of manipulating people like pawns in a military chess game. Jessep’s ego is as enormous as Salas’ commitment, and where character and actor meet, there is a powerful performance on both the comedic and dramatic fronts.

Other notable performances came from Cmdr. Walter Stone (Kevin Veloz), who created a genuine portrait of a man caught between morality and self-preservation; Lt. J.G. Sam Weinberg (Kevin Fitzpatrick), whose comedic timing was surpassed only by his sincere connection to character; PFC. William T. Santiago (Juan Arcila), whose brief time onstage captured the honest desperation of a scared young man; and Capt. Matthew A. Markinson (Nicholas Palazzo), whose monologues contained potent strength mixed with raw human vulnerability.

The show was technically excellent, especially provided the fact that the stage crew consisted of the actors themselves. The transitions between scenes were seamless, well-coordinated, and never distracting. Aside from the occasional fumble over a line or unclear delivery, the performers were overall articulate and had masterful control over their volume. The live music underscoring scenes and set changes also lended itself to the story, adding greater depth to the conflict and emotional undertones of the play.

Archbishop McCarthy has pulled off its production of “A Few Good Men” with a level of skill, dedication, and truth that very few can handle.

Reviews of Gypsy at Pine Crest School on Saturday, 11/22

By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Ready your wigs, heels, background dancers, and SING OUT! Everything’s coming up roses and daffodils for Pine Crest, who journeyed from vaudeville to burlesque in an impressive display of dynamic talent with their take on the Broadway classic, “Gypsy.”

Commonly lauded as one of the greatest American musicals of all time, “Gypsy” opened on Broadway in 1959. It has since enjoyed four revivals and has passed through the hands of iconic performers such as Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone. Gypsy follows the story of Rose, a savagely passionate stage mother who pushes her two daughters into show business. As her daughters grow up and stardom becomes farther and farther away from reach, the true nature of show business and family is exposed in a striking character study of a woman with a tragic need to vicariously live her unfulfilled dreams by exploiting her children.

Taking on the world’s most infamous stage mom is no easy deed, but Destiny Arlotta owned the role with her fully committed, perfectly theatrical portrayal of Mama Rose. She sidestepped exaggeration while nailing the larger-than-life essence of her character – her facials were fabulously expressive, her line delivery was sharp, and her physicality animated the production. Arlotta’s commendable ability to execute both comedy, heartbreak, and extremely emotional scenes allowed her to beautifully portray the complexity of her character and thus powerfully command the show into a cathartic finale.

Laura Sky Herman soared as Rose’s under-appreciated daughter, Louise. The highly dynamic nature of Herman’s character was stunningly executed through her highly authentic portrayals of innocence, insecurity, coldness, and vanity. Such impressive characterization was elevated by the powerful technique and versatility of her vocals.

Jordanna Brody infused delightfully fun energy into an intensely dramatic show with her performance as the burlesque performer, Tessie Tura. Her immense on-stage comfort gave her character refreshing sassiness, fierceness, and playfulness – the dazzling number “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” benefitted from this confident energy and became one of the highlight songs in the show. Some performers lacked similar comfort with their roles and consequently came off as stiff and unnatural, but the overall energy of the cast helped to undermine such issues.

Gypsy’s technical aspects succeeded in providing an enriching aesthetic that did not overwhelm the performances — although set changes were not cleanly executed, lush costumes adequately set up the time period, fascinating lighting design provided intriguing transitions, and well-managed sound design balanced nicely with the orchestra.

Pine Crest might have taken a risk in visiting the vaudeville circuit for their latest production, but with the limelight on the captivating talent of their leads, they had no trouble making Mama proud with this moving and entertaining rendition of Broadway’s most timeless musical.


By Kaley Nelson of Plantation High

Everything is coming up roses in Pine Crest High School’s performance of what is said to be one of America’s greatest musicals – Gypsy.

This 1959 musical is based on the memoirs of the famous striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, and is centered on her mother, Rose, who is determined to make her two daughters into stars. In the show, the character Louise represents Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, June, represents the actress June Havoc. June is inherently more talented than Louise, but Rose stills wants both of her girls to be stars. But after many misfortunes, including June running away to marry Tulsa and an accidental performance booked in a burlesque, Louise breaks out of her innocent shell and Gypsy Rose Lee is born.

This large cast of over 50 was selected to bring this story to life onstage. Rose (Destiny Arlotta) captured the attention of the audience with her magnificent stage presence. Her dramatic onstage personality and exaggerated gestures exemplified her as the typical “show business mother”.

Although some characters dealt with issues of lack of chemistry and showed weakness in characterization, June (Arielle Rozencwaig) and Louise (Laura Sky Herman) displayed exemplary chemistry, not only together, but with their mother, Rose. Both ladies had wonderful soprano singing voices and wowed the audience with angelic harmonies in “If Mama Was Married”. Louise also demonstrated exceptional character development, especially in her shift from the innocent Louise to the sassy striptease Gypsy Rose Lee.

Despite there being some members of the cast that lacked stage presence, there were some that made the short time they had on stage memorable. Most notable are Weber (Alan Koolik) and Miss Cratchitt (Anastasia Golovkine) both of whom played crotchety older individuals at different points in the story line, but both provided as comic relief with their snarky remarks and dedication to their characters. Caroline, the cow (Kaitlyn Ockerman, Madison Hawthorne) was hilarious. The cow really mooved the audience in the few scenes it was in, even participating in a synchronized danced with June in “Dainty June and Her Farmboys”, which must have been very difficult to do while being in a cow costume.

The technical aspects of the show were impressive for the most part. The set was simple, yet effective. Lights were beautiful, and the use of strobe lights to represent the children growing up at one point in Act I was very creative. There were some issues with microphones cutting in and out, but the actors onstage had such wonderful projection it was hardly noticeable.

Pine Crest High School’s performance of Gypsy had its strengths and weaknesses, but the strong performances by those dedicated to their characters assisted in the nostalgic aura of one of America’s greatest musicals.


By Larissa Angrisanio of Plantation High

What’s better than cigars, a dancing cow, and eggrolls? What if burlesque was thrown into the mix? All of these things shined in Pine Crest School’s most recent production of the Broadway classic, Gypsy.

Gypsy is a 1959 Broadway musical: music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The idea of the musical originated from the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The musical is ironically focused on Rose, the show-business mother that raised Gypsy (Louise) and her sister June as they travel around America with their vaudeville act hoping to one day become stars. We travel with Rose as she goes through an emotional roller coaster of people leaving her and the stress of making her daughters famous.

Pine Crest School’s amazing cast of Gypsy managed to take Gypsy right off of the Broadway stage in New York and perform it almost flawlessly on their stage in Ft. Lauderdale. Rose (played by Destiny Arlotta) was outstanding. Her stage presence was intriguing and her vocals were topnotch. Arlotta was able to productively express her love and care for her two daughters throughout the whole production.

Louise (played by Laura Sky Herman) was a highlight of the show. Her solo “Little Lamb” made the audience members not only fall in love with her vocals but also with her character. During the second act, her transition from shy vaudeville upcoming star to striptease expert was seamless and believable.

Jordanna Brody, who played Tessie Tura, was a standout performer. Her character was consistent throughout her time on stage. Brody added a bit of comic relief to the heart break displayed during the second act. Her solo in “You Gotta Get A Gimmick” floored audience members leaving them pleased and satisfied. Caroline, the cow (played by ensemble members Kaitlyn Ockerman and Madison Hawthorne) was the comic highlight of the show. Originally intended to be comedic, audience members looked forward to the cow’s time on stage.

On the technical side of things, the lights and set made the production. Mostly smooth transitions and timely spotlights allowed for accuracy and a creative touch during the performance. Although microphones went out at times, performers’ projection made up for the lack of sound at times and made the mishap barely noticeable.

Pine Crest School’s production of the Broadway classic, Gypsy was a fun-filled and touching experience for all. With topnotch acting, unbelievable vocals, and outstanding dance numbers, they left a long lasting impression on every single audience member.


By Doni Rotunno of Cooper City High School

Everything is coming up roses, as seen in Pine Crest School’s outstanding production of Gypsy. Full of humor, charm, and some truly emotionally intense acting, Pine Crest really captured the essence of this treasured Broadway musical.

Gypsy (book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Jule Styne, and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim), is based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist. However, the musical adaptation focuses on her mother, Rose, who has been given the title of “the ultimate show business mother”, and her journey on trying to make her girls stars.

Gypsy has come to be known as one of the best Broadway musicals of all time, setting some pretty high standards for any production. But, for Pine Crest, this wasn’t a problem. Though the ensemble lacked energy at certain parts, this minor detail can be overlooked, when compared to the overall quality of this production.

Destiny Arlotta takes on the role of Mama Rose, a role played by some of the biggest and best names in Broadway history. From the moment she walked on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off of her. She embodied this character so well, and brought such a high level of emotion and power to it, that you couldn’t help but be captivated. Her rendition of the final song, “Roses Turn”, was superb, as she was able to convince the audience that she was a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and still vocally sing this song like there was no tomorrow.

Laura Sky Herman did a terrific job as Louise (a.k.a. Gypsy Rose Lee). Her transition from being this shy, unappreciated girl in the background, to becoming this Burlesque star, was very well done. In the scene where Gypsy tells her mother to let her go, Laura’s skills really excelled. Some other notable performances include Jordanna Brody as lead stripper Tessie Tura, Henri Vrod as Tulsa, and Arielle Rozencwaig as June. Lastly, I can’t forget the comedic performance of Kaitlyn Ockerman and Madison Hawthorne as Caroline the cow. I give these two girls credit for being able to maneuver on stage in a full body cow costume, and still do dance moves in sync with the rest of the cast.

This is a challenging show to do, and the fact that a high school was able to pull it off, just shows the level of talent in this cast. I was blown away by Pine Crest’s production, and am giving Gypsy a standing ovation.


By Megan Chesney of Cooper City High School

Extra! Extra! Presenting, in writing, Pine Crest Fine Arts’ production of “Gypsy” by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

“Gypsy” brings us the story of Rose Louise Havick, later known as Gypsy Rose Lee, a vaudeville performer, alongside her sister, turned a burlesque star. Based on her book, Gypsy: A Memoir, the musical captures the tale of Momma Rose, her star June, and Louise. “Gypsy’s” Broadway premiere was on May 21, 1959 with four revivals on the stage since and several awards, proving the high expectation and level of difficulty it is to put on such a legendary show.

Throughout the musical, Rose proclaims that she will make her daughter a star; but after songs like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn”, it’s clear that Rose (Destiny Arlotta) was the star. Her performance lead the show with great expression in acting and vocals with just the right amount of energy that screams a determined stage mom. From the first time she appeared on stage, her characterization seemed to steal the spotlight that Rose thrived on.

Widely driven by Rose was her daughter Louise (Laura Sky Herman), originally a part of the background for her star sister June (Arielle Rozencwaig). The sisterly duo performed “If Momma Was Married”, showing another side to the stage presence they give as vaudeville performers versus sisters longing for a loving family. As the musical goes on and June leaves the act to elope with one of the dancers, Louise’s transition from a nervous and awkward performer into Gypsy, the confident and risque burlesque entertainer, captured the essence of an dynamic character that captivated the audience.

With minimal, yet creative set design, it was easy to understand the quick changes in scenery and for the cast to maneuver around the stage for songs like “Mr. Goldstone” and “Farm Sequence/Broadway”. A particularly memorable part of the “Farm Sequence” was the first appearance of Caroline, the cow, (Kaitlyn Ockerman, Madison Hawthorne) that soon becomes a running prop in future scenes with the cow’s head. It’s impressive for one person to do a solo dance routine, let alone two people completely synchronized while wearing a two-piece cow costume. During ensemble performances, some people were too high pitched to understand, but the unity of the ensemble pulled together to display the acts of June and Louise.

Pine Crest Fine Arts’ production of “Gypsy” was a fast-paced, entertaining show of comedy and emotion that teaches us that with enough determination and the push of a controlling, yet caring mother, stardom is achievable— vaudeville act, burlesque entertainer, or not!

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Reviews of Harvey at Pope John Paul II High School on Friday, 11/21

By Erin Cary of University School of NSU

In a theater full of rumbling laughter and soft giggles, the deeper meaning of a comedy can easily escape from the minds of its onlookers. However, that was not the case at Pope John Paul II High School’s recent production of “Harvey”. Whether the scene was serious or hilarious, the production left the audience upright in their seats all night.

In the 1940’s American South, Elwood P. Dowd’s giant imaginary rabbit, Harvey, presents a problem for Elwood’s sister, Veta. When Veta tries to have Elwood committed to an asylum, the doctor mistakes her for the insane one and accidently commits her. As the truth comes out, a search begins for Elwood and his fantasy rabbit. “Harvey” has thrilled audiences since it first debuted on Broadway in November of 1944. The author, Mary Chase, received a Pulitzer Prize for the play in 1945. The show questions which people are really more dangerous: the innocent dreamers or the frazzled conformists?

The leads of the production carried a bright humor on stage with them. Andrew Birkmann, as Elwood P. Dowd, constantly connected to his character. His reactions to a nonexistent rabbit helped the viewers to envision Harvey and feel for the man who always saw Harvey. Birkmann strongly conveyed all the charm of Elwood, while still expressing Elwood’s insanity. Paige Notaras, as Veta Louise Simmons, pleasantly displayed the confusing fatigue of being sister to Elwood. Her character never wavered, and her distressed shouting kept the audience laughing through many scenes.

The supporting cast also brought smiles to the faces in the audience. Paige Gray, as the strong but lovesick Nurse Kelly, was always engaged on stage, whether she was cleverly delivering lines or quietly looking through papers at her desk. Charlie Metzger and Marco Cirillo, as Dr. Sanderson and Dr. Chumley, both displayed strong character and reacted brilliantly to every jolt in the story. Myrtle Mae Simmons’ (Rebecca Markert) constant worry and desperateness was executed well, amusing audience members. Brandon Flood, as the asylum worker, Duane Wilson, made his character hilarious even when he was not the star of the scene. With just one expression or mannerism, he could send his viewers into a fit of laughter.

Jessica Coons, as Dr. Chumley’s caring wife, Betty, expressed clear feeling through her lines. Her loving concern for Elwood and her submissive disappointment in her husband were evident through only a look or an intonation in her voice. Coleton Santacroce, as the Simmons’ studious lawyer, Judge Omar Gaffney, conveyed the confident note-taking personality of his character through the clarity and strength in his lines. While the audience lost some rushed lines, every member of the cast spoke consistently with an authentic Southern accent.

The run crew was silent and fast through every scene change. While some makeup and costumes seemed out of place for the 1940’s, the efficient set helped to depict the time period and location. The show’s program beautifully displayed the work of the marketing crew, simply capturing the essence of the play.

By the end of “Harvey”, the audience members all began to see that six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit standing by the door. In a great display of comedy, Pope John Paul II High School brought to life a story like no other with a deep message about the very construct of human nature.


By Carmen Horn of North Broward Preparatory School

What makes a dysfunctional family more dysfunctional? How about a giant, imaginary talking rabbit? In Pope John Paul II High School’s production of Harvey, they explore just this idea.

Harvey follows the story of the Dowd household: Veta Louise Simmons, a well-respected woman; her daughter, Myrtle Mae; and her brother, Elwood, an eccentric man with a 6 and a half foot talking rabbit for an imaginary friend, named Harvey. Veta feels like Harvey is ruining her life (and her social standing), so she decides to get Elwood committed to a sanitarium. However, when she arrives, they accidentally commit her instead! Things start going really crazy, however, when other people start seeing the rabbit as well. Does Harvey really exist, or is he just a figment of Elwood’s imagination?

Andrew Birkmann led the show in the role of Elwood. He really portrayed the charm and confidence of the character, and seemed very comfortable. His interactions with the imaginary Harvey were natural, and even though he was playing to nothing, Harvey had a fixed location. Paige Norton played alongside him as his sister Veta with conviction and high energy. Her characterization was convincing and natural, and she took advantage of her comedic moments.

A truly standout performance was that of Brandon Flood, who played Duane Wilson, a worker in the sanitarium. He was comedic and committed, with consistent high energy and investment in the scene, even when he had nothing to do. He and Rebecca Markert, who played the young Myrtle Mae, had excellent chemistry. Their interactions were funny and realistic, and occasionally touching.

Technically, this show ran exceptionally smoothly, with quick changes from the Dowd home to the sanitarium. The set was highly effective, and there was distinction between the two locations. The props and costuming both helped emphasize characters and plot.

Overall, Pope John Paul II High School’s production of Harvey was very well done. It flowed nicely, and the cast was consistently high energy and committed. The cast worked well together as an ensemble to bring a very amusing, entertaining show together.


By Savannah Zona of Boca Raton Community High School

Twists and twangs hopped off the stage through echoes of laughter at Pope John Paul II High School’s rendition of “Harvey”. This 1944 comedy spins hallucinations and happiness to its benefit and will leave you reconsidering your perspective of reality.

One day, while sitting on a park bench, Mr. Elwood P. Dowd hallucinates a tall anamorphic rabbit named Harvey, who comes to be his faithful pal. Fearful for Dowd’s mental stability and moreover her families reputation, Dowd’s sister, Veta, struggles to decide whether Dowd’s “normality” is more pertinent than the happiness instilled within him through his imaginary companion. The show, written by Mary Chase, opened on Broadway in 1944 and ran for five years; a major success in its time. It won the Pulitzer Prize of 1945, and has been adapted into many films and television mediums studded with stars including James Stewart and Jim Parsons.

John Paul’s stage was constantly occupied with naturalism and energy supplied by the entire cast. Movements appeared motivated and created depth to characters that could have easily become shallow. However, the cast at times became distracted with the focus of the scene and began to drift from the situation at hand.

Paige Notaras, as Veta, had a constant awareness of her part, and even when a mishap with her prop ensued, she narrowed in on her role to create a characterized justification for the unexpected fumble. Also, notable was Andrew Birkmann who captured the free-spirit of Elwood P. Dowd, keeping a continuous smiley mood transcending through the air.

Sustaining the comedic vibe of the show was Brandon Flood as the dimwitted psychiatric orderly Duane Wilson and Paige Gray as the sweet and sensual secretary Ruth Kelly. Gray remained cognizant of her character through settle and effective reactions that added wonderfully to the realism the show strived for while Flood maintained lively energy.

The stage crew for this production executed every difficult set change silently, swiftly, and suavely, transforming the stage both diligently and creatively. For instance, scenes within Dowd’s mansion displayed open windows showing the outside world, and when the stage shifted to the Sanitarium, bars appeared over the portals showing a clear divisive element between the two spaces. However, despite the set competently portraying the era, some costume choices were distractingly non-periodic for the piece and mislead the focus of certain characters.

Entirely, Pope John Paul II High School’s “Harvey” hopped down the bunny trail to success with extraordinary talent and tremendous technical attributes.


By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

A well-to-do family, living in a gorgeous mansion and throwing society parties left and right, just wouldn’t be complete without a six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit. Wait, what? Pope John Paul II High School captivated audiences in its production of Harvey, written by Mary Chase.

A 1940’s Broadway comedy hit, Harvey, pleased audiences through the eccentric story of a well-liked man, Elwood P. Dowd, and his imaginary friend, a rabbit pooka, named Harvey. Elwood’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons, has had enough of Elwood’s crazy behavior with Harvey and decides to have him committed to a sanitarium before she starts believing in him herself. Throughout the play, we see doctors race to catch Elwood, several knee-slapping misunderstandings, and a few excitingly passionate lovers.

The odd Elwood P. Dowd is played by the convincing Andrew Birkmann whose characterization and believability induced laughter and relatability every moment he was on stage. His commitment to the pantomime of the six foot tall rabbit was commendable and made his performance all the more entertaining, nailing his signature line, “I’d like to introduce you to… Harvey!” every time. Elwood’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons, was played by the eye-catching Paige Notaras. She brought appreciated energy to the stage, especially in her crazy accusatory moments against Elwood and her heart-filled moments loving him.

The excitable Myrtle Mae Simmons, Elwood’s niece, was played by Rebecca Markert whose bouncy characterization brightened up the storyline. Her love interest, Duane Wilson, was delightfully crafted by Brandon Flood whose comedic edge stole moments and sent the audience in uproar. Together, Markert and Flood, created a magnetizing young lovebirds duo that never stopped showing their excitement for one another.

The undetectable set changes and transformations were to thank the diligent stage crew for. The lights and background music also worked well synced together and created great moods for the scenes. Although there was some inconsistency in line delivery, the cast as a whole did a tremendous job in maintaining strong southern accents throughout the entire length of the show.

Mental patients, psychological babble, and the importance of happiness were all wrapped up nicely in this superb production of Harvey by Pope John Paul II High School.


By Elisa Figueras of Boca Raton Community High School

Mix hallucination, flirtation, and usurpation, and you’ve got Harvey, a whimsical tale portraying a twist on classic American family drama. Pope John Paul II High School’s production of Harvey ludicrously illustrated that fear of the unordinary may drive close ones to desperate measures, and that hasty actions may have severe repercussions.

The play, written by Mary Chase, played on Broadway for five years beginning in 1944. It follows Elwood P. Dowd, a grown man whose best friend is the six-foot, three-inch tall rabbit Harvey. Elwood’s sister Veta tries to commit him to a sanitarium, but when she is taken instead, the search is on for the missing Elwood and his imaginary sidekick. Chase received the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for this work in 1945.

Pope John Paul II’s production was anchored by the flexibility of the cast. Major and minor characters alike contributed uniquely to the show as a whole. They often utilized a maturity uncharacteristic of high school students to enhance the comedic aspect of the show.

Andrew Birkmann (Elwood P. Dowd) was a delight to watch onstage. His fluid characterization and constant energy showed that he understood his multifaceted character well. He made himself easily understandable with a thick accent. Through his emotion and mannerisms it was easy for the audience to gauge Harvey’s location whenever Birkmann was present. Paige Notaras (Veta Simmons) also exhibited a notable depth of character and complimented scenes with a powerful intonation of her voice.

With eccentric expression and prominent presence, Brandon Flood crafted a comic role as Duane Wilson. His nonstop antics left the audience roaring. Paige Gray (Ruth Kelly) added dynamic to the cast with her attitude and charm. Jessica Coons’ strong voice made her a memorable appearance as Betty Chumley.

Technically, the show was impressively executed. The set designed by student Matthew Gavan, was complex and thoroughly captured the feeling of the mid-20th-century American home. Multiplex scene changes were carried out efficiently and quietly by the stage crew. In seconds the quaint library of the Dowd mansion was transformed into Chumley’s pristine Sanitarium. Costumes, although only partially capturing the style of the era, were also designed and acquired solely by students.

Pope John Paul II’s production of Harvey ultimately showed that familial acceptance transcends physical circumstance. The school tackled the play, with all of its versatile elements, admirably in a very well-received and enjoyable show.

Reviews of Three Japanese Ghost Stories at Somerset Academy on Friday, 11/14

By Giani Jones of Dillard Center For The Arts

Last Saturday, Somerset Academy presented “Three Japanese Ghost Stories,” truly an unforgettable show. Although the school had limited space to conduct a masterpiece on, they made much great use of it. The Kabuki–inspired play was, beyond any shadow of doubt, an admirable piece.

“Three Japanese Ghost Stories” published by Samuel French, was meant to be performed as an avant-garde type of show in the Kabuki-style, which went great and according to the set-up of the petite stage. The play consisted of three separate acts: “The Vampire Cat, Urashima, and The Ghostly Maiden.” “The Vampire Cat” told an ominous story in which a cat’s soul began to transfer between mortals until it succeeded in sucking the life out the Prince that took its life long ago; it was a story of beastly revenge. In the next act, “Urashima,” a sailor, had gone fishing for his family and trapped a turtle, who just so happened to be an immortal being from a different world. The turtle, Eshun, made a promise to the sailor, saying that if she was to be freed, he would not regret it, for he will be rewarded. His reward? Eternal love with her in the immortal world. However, when he decides to return to his old land hundreds of years later, he’s astounded to find how drastically much has changed. The last, and most tragic of all, tells of a story between two people, a Samurai and a Lady, who fall in love with each other at first glance. After a depressing and unfortunate suicide, Lady Tsuyu, still in love with Hagiwara Shinzaburo, decides to visit him on a night in which all lost souls return back to Earth to conclude their final duties. A doctor, who realizes Shinzaburo is in grave danger, then instructs Shinzaburo’s servant Tomozo to put strips of blessings outside the entrance of his house and wear a golden Buddha to protect him of death, for they may not love each other if one is dead and the other alive. However, many challenges are faced when Tomozo, Shinzaburo’s most “loyal” servant, decides to defy his masters’ wishes and intentionally let the spirits back into the home. What happens afterwards composes the last story into a tragic romance.

One impressive and creative aspect of the play has to have been the make-up, which fits perfectly for the mood of the show and the setting, as well. The beginning of the show was, to a certain extent, dull, but as the play progressed, the narration picked up quite well and the essence of the play was replenished. Paulina Cruz, who played the Cat in “The Vampire Cat,” mimicked the kinetics of a cat flawlessly. Everything about Jessica Gomez, who played Eshun, a sweet, appealing character in Urashima, lured me into the plot of the story and kept my eyes planted on her divine costume and flawless make-up. Josh-Andrew Wisdom, who played Tomozo in “The Ghostly Maiden,” was entirely an exhilarated character; the house echoed with the audience’s laughter and enjoyment.

All in all, this was, as the Japanese would call it, a “thunderclap from the clear sky.” This delightful show was, in fact, an epic surprise, a bolt from the blue. From demon cats that take one bite and slowly suck the life away from you to ex-lovers who come back as ghosts to grab a hold of you and love you for eternity, Somerset Academy’s “Three Japanese Ghost Stories” was a pleasant performance. Sayonara!

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By Karla Civil of Dillard Center For The Arts

Drama, fantasy, and even adventure ensue in Somerset Academy & Arts Conservatory’s production of “Three Japanese Ghost Stories” by David F. Eliet. This is a series of one-act plays made into one. This student directed play was made possible by Mrs. Mayleen Williams, Cristian Garcia & Co. with their creative taste and simplistic ideas, this show was definitely a hit. Their vision captured the essence of this Japanese folk-tale with its Kabuki style and artistic outlook.

Make-up and costumes were simple, yet effective. I especially think the make up done in “The Ghostly Maiden” was remarkable. It depicted the living and the dead on Gabriela Baldaccini who portrayed Lady Tsuyu and Brittany Loynaz who portrayed Yone. One of the actors in one of the acts however didn’t have a defined look but just streaks of black that wasn’t as clear as the others’. The different makeup styles were unique and clever. The costume for Jessica Gomez (Eshun) was elaborate and breathtaking. She looked stunning.

The set was very flattering; seeing that with such little space, it just flowed with each scene. I think all the actors executed themselves nicely on stage. There was no messiness or clutter. The use of the smoke machine was a great addition to the set. The sound effects were beautiful; it created an atmosphere of tranquility at times and fit with every scene change. You could differentiate between scenes; whether it be outdoors with nature or indoors full of suspense and drama.

The technical aspect of the show had quite a few delays when it came down to lights/spotlight. The actors spoke in the dark for some time until finally, light shone on them. Also, mics were an issue. Mics would go on and off and some actors were reluctant to project but instead relied on their mics. Other actors managed to project at times of inaudibility.

Jorge Hernandez (Shinzaburo-“The Ghostly Maiden”) held his own as the samurai. He had a lot of energy, and never missed a cue! There was clarity in his voice, nice projection and he displayed great physicality as the samurai. His chemistry with Gabriela Baldaccini (Lady Tsuyu) was quite notable and just heart-wrenching. Brittany Loynaz (Yone) gave the stage life, had amazing stage presence and never ceased to amaze me. Josh-Andrew Wisdom (Tomozo) was phenomenal in his portrayal as Tomozo. He had great comedic timing and never missed a beat. His facial expressions and delivery of his lines were superb. If anyone kept the show afloat, it was definitely Wisdom! Alexander Hasson (Old Man) was very commendable as the Old Man. He appeared to be a crowd favorite.

Overall, the cast and crew at Somerset Academy & Arts Conservatory left a lasting impression. For such a difficult style of theater to interpret, they sure did an exceptional job. They put a lot of effort and creativity into this production.

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By Megan Chesney of Cooper City High School

White powdered faces and a Kabuki-styled arrangement set the stage for Somerset Conservatory’s production of “Three Japanese Ghost Stories” by David F. Eliet.

This play consists of three one-acts under a time limit. “The Vampire Cat, Urashima, and The Ghostly Maiden” focused on a condensed version of classical stories originating in cherry-blossomed Japan that premiered at the Cleveland Play House in 1991 alongside an art exhibit for Japanese artist Mineko Grimmer.

Directed and designed by students, the storytelling of this play left audiences entranced with the lively characters and aesthetic of old Japanese-styled storytelling. “The Vampire Cat,” a story of a Cat (Paulina Cruz) that takes over the body of Princess O Toyo (Lindsey Cartwright) in order to drain the Prince’s (Nicky Macias) life for attempting to kill it, started off the night with a literal bang of a gong. It set the platform for the rest of the evening very well and amazed the viewer with the obviously in depth manifestation of characters that were displayed by those like the cat, whose movements would jerk and slink around the scenery in a feline manner. Princess O Toyo, who was first presented as an innocent and youthful character, transformed into a menacing possessed being.

The next act progressed after a minor blackout for a small set change, bringing the audience the story of “Urashima,” a fisherman (Ryan Fernandez) who captures a turtle (Jessica Gomez) that turns his life upside down – in a good way! The Narrator, bouncing dialogue back and forth between herself and Urashima, was presented by Sabrina Simonpietri in a well understood way that immersed the viewer in the story. The sound of classic Japanese music softly playing in the background and makeup was obviously well developed, adding to the feel of the play.

The last act to top off the night was “The Ghostly Maiden,” a story of Hagiwara Shinzaburo’s (Jorge Hernandez) ghostly lover Lady Tsuyu (Gabriela Baldaccini) who is plotting to take his life to the realm of death with her. A truly scary yet romantic tale, it was also widely driven by the threatening maid of Tsuyu, Yone (Brittany Loynaz), and Shinzaburo’s servant, Tomozo (Josh-Andrew Wisdom). These characters provided great expression through their uniquely half-painted skeleton bodies to chilling scenes as well as a little comic relief, easing the bitter ending of Shinzaburo’s life in “The Ghostly Maiden.”

A feat that was accomplished by a student-led production of “Three Japanese Ghost Stories” presented by Somerset Conservatory was a challenge, but was comfortable and entertaining in their way of telling these three eerie stories.

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By Matthew Gavan of Pope John Paul II High School

A night at Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory’s “Three Japanese Ghost Stories” was one filled with suspense, thrills, and ghosts. With traditional Japanese music and narrators, the show successfully gave the production a story-like quality. The show was performed in a Japanese Kabuki-style as the playwright intended it to be.

“Three Japanese Ghost Stories” was written by the playwright David F. Eliet. This show consists of three one-act plays which can be performed separately or together. The tales involve a vampire cat thirsting for revenge, an immortal turtle and her love for a fisherman, and a samurai haunted by his love.

Among the various actors and actresses, Lindsey Cartwright, playing Princess O Toyo in the first story, stood out. Lindsey projected well and was able to portray the sudden change in her character with ease. She managed to form a connection with the audience and as very clear in her expression of emotions.

Many shows have that one character that manages to put a smile on the members of the audience, and one actor by the name of Josh-Andrew Wisdom, playing Tomozo in the third story, proved to be quite a humorous character. Wisdom had nice comedic timing and dramatic expressions that gave the audience a chuckle or two.

Makeup, designed by Alexis Gowans, Gianina Mugavero and Valeria Moran, fit the time period of the show accordingly. Despite obscuring facial expressions and lacking complexity in some characters, the makeup was applied well and added to the Japanese essence of the show. Costumes, although simple, were obviously influenced by the Japanese culture and time period.

The stage crew, who allows the story to transition with scene changes, is meant to be quick, quiet, and unseen. Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory’s stage crew was not as successful in these aspects. The scene changes were lengthy and disorganized, and stage crew could be seen off the sides of the stage.

Technical difficulties with sound proved to be consistent and took away from the show. The music played during each story as meant to pertain to the mood of the tale being told. Lighting had a few delays in shifting the spotlight, but changing gel colors to fit the mood of the scene was well done.

The show had a high level of difficulty due to having to connect with the audience across three different storylines. Although there were many technical matters that took away from the show, the actors and actresses pulled through and gave a performance as expected from a high school theatre department.


By Claudia Moncaliano of The Sagemont School

A mysterious black cat, an immortal turtle, and a ghostly lover take us on three thrilling ventures through the enticing Japanese culture in Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory’s spine-tingling production of “Three Japanese Ghost Stories.”

This three-part straight play, written by David F. Eliet, captures Japanese folklore at its finest. The first story, “The Vampire Cat,” features a demon cat who sets her mind on giving a prince the slowest and most painful of deaths. Then, a young fisherman is seduced into becoming immortal and leaving all his life behind in “Urashima.” Finally, true love fights the powers of life and death when a passionate damsel comes back from the dead to haunt her lover in “The Ghostly Maiden.”

Lindsey Cartwright showed incredible skill in switching from a faithful wife to a possessed killer in her role as Princess O Toyo. As she physically embodied the demon cat’s powers, she slowly sucked away the blood of her husband as he lay in bed. Alexander Hasson, as the loyal and willing soldier Ito Soda, showed his character’s profound determination to save his dying prince in his breathtaking struggle to destroy the cat’s demon spirit as it passed from one body to the next.

Powerful love and affection entered the night through Jorge Hernandez in his role as Hagiwara Shinzaburo, the lover of the ghostly maiden. He portrayed his character’s pain and sorrow, as he stood fooled by a ghost and blindsided by the influence of love. Josh-Andrew Wisdom brought a burst of comedic relief to the storyline as Tomozo, Shinzaburo’s servant. His memorable wit livened the piece into a modern day atmosphere and broke the audience into laughter.

“The Ghostly Maiden” was most notable for the exquisite skeletal make up applied to the damsel and her maid. Half-human, half-skeleton, it showed them both in the eyes of her lover and in the eyes of the rest of the world. Background music was played over the scenes, enhanced the overall mood of the production. Whether it was love, hate, longing, or happiness, the delicate sounds complimented the emotional growth on the stage. Even with a few minor technical glitches, the cast and crew moved forward admirably, telling the dramatic folktales of the Japanese culture.

This traditional folklore was skillfully crafted to entertain, regardless of the smaller fan base it may have in this modern age. Complete with back-stabbing, revenge-seeking, and regretfully curious characters, Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory gave the script new levels of excitement

Reviews of Ragtime at JP Taravella High School on Saturday, 11/15/2014

sm301img_9287By Eden Skopp of Stoneman Douglas High School

It was the turn of the century in JP Taravella’s recent musical production, and America was moving to a fresh rhythm, a new syncopation, one that would redefine long defended social boundaries… and the people called it Ragtime.

Based on the 1975 novel of the same title by E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, captures the swirling colors of three distinct communities, the white elite of New Rochelle, the people of Harlem, and the immigrants. Recognizable figures such as banking mogul J.P. Morgan and social activist Booker T. Washington give the show historical context. Ragtime opened on Broadway in 1998, winning four Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

Dashawn Perry (Coalhouse) developed the musical’s major conflict with strong characterization. Perry additionally stood out as a dancer during the show’s vibrant musical numbers. Leanne Antonio’s (Sarah) rich vocalization and chemistry with Perry developed their pivotal relationship. Perry portrayed Coalhouse’s deep love for Sarah when they appeared onstage together and that love could be seen in Perry’s eyes even after her death.

Hagan Oliveras (Younger Brother) gave a commendable performance, as both an actor and a vocalist, but his talent and range of expression was especially evident at his character’s turning point. Oliveras demonstrated Younger Brother’s mounting passion, producing a powerful moment of raw emotion.

Mia Borselli (Evelyn Nesbit) should be recognized for her polished movement and her seamless alteration to the choreography when a key set piece was not available to her. Edgar Barrios (Harry Houdini) provided a physical element of comic relief, as he appeared both onstage and off in the mystifying style of the escape artist. The stage pictures that the ensemble formed, such as the three distinctly separated classes, the factory assembly line, and silhouettes embodied symbolic moments. Energy lacked in some areas but the cast created a powerful impression, closing the first act with “Till We Reach That Day.”

Even though the orchestra occasionally overpowered the actors, the cast produced a balanced sound in group numbers. The lightweight and cleverly designed set created levels that supplemented the action onstage. More attention to age makeup could have more naturally emphasized the generational difference between some characters, but thematically colored costumes emphasized the motif of division.

JP Taravella’s production of Ragtime defined just what the American dream means to each person in our diverse nation.


By Ashley McFadden of Plantation High

In the midst of the turn of the 20th century, immigration was at its peak. Negroes, Jews and white men, women, and children lived amongst each other. Was it harmonious? Well JP Taravella High School’s production of the iconic musical Ragtime gives a clear answer while highlighting iconic events in the midst of it all.

With the book written by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s book Ragtime was brought to the Broadway stage in 1998. The story of three diverse cultural groups; African Americans, Eastern European ommigrants, and rich white folk; and their intertwining lives are shown. Sometimes civilly, other times chaotic, Ragtime gives a clear description of how life was in the early 1900s.

An extremely talented cast of about 40 students were chosen to bring this historic time period to life. As the female figure for the white folk, Mother, played by Rachel Ihasz, was a beautiful attribute to the production. Her acting was impeccable and her singing was superior. She made scenes powerful while some members of the cast lacked in ability to do so. Dashawn Perry, who played Coalhouse Walker Jr., was a delight to see on stage. Every aspect of his performance was top notch. Singing was smooth, line delivery and timing was appropriate, and dancing was outstanding.

Two of the most stand out performers were Sarah and Younger Brother. Sarah (Leanne Antonio) had a stellar singing voice and left the audience in awe after every scene and song. Hagan Oliveras (Younger Brother) had a strong, solid singing voice. His acting transitions were smooth and seamless and you could see a true connection to him and his character.

In such a serious situation, a little bit of comedic relief is needed. The character Harry Houdini (Edgar Barrios) was a delight to observe. The way he delivered body movements while being tied up was hilarious. Another humorous aspect to the show was the role of Grandfather (Josh Cerra.) With minimal stage time, every line delivered was side stitching and left us wanting more of him. Anarchist Emma Goldman (Linda Fountain) did an amazing job at her acting and singing. She did not let her accent hold her back and her singing was breathtaking.

The Ragtime orchestra was absolutely outstanding. They had continuous volume control and sounded professional. The set had a few mishaps and seemed a bit unstable, however the look of the set was beautiful and very appropriate for the production and could be utilized in many ways. The body microphones for the show had a few slip-ups here and there, but the floor microphones helped make up for the mishaps.

JP Taravella High School’s production of Ragtime was altogether marvelous. With show-stopping harmonies, commendable acting and a beautiful set, the essence of the pre- World War I era was captured. The stories of every group were told seamlessly and harmoniously.


By Erin Cary of University School of NSU

In a world so often weakened by the constant burden of bad times, the “American Dream” stands as a beacon for every American and gives hope to all kinds of people. In J.P. Taravella High School’s recent production of Ragtime, the students explored the “American Dream” at astonishing lengths.

At the turn of the twentieth century, three families emerge from different worlds: an upper class white family, an African American community, and a population of immigrants. As the story goes on, these three families end up intertwined and tired from the throes of the “American Dream.” Dealing with racism, perseverance, and justice, Ragtime has struck at the core of Americans since it debuted on Broadway in January of 1998. The show, based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow, with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty, won four Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

On J.P. Taravella’s stage, the lead performers shined from the opening number to the curtain close. Dashawn Perry (Coalhouse) displayed strong vocals and great dance skills in numbers like “Gettin’ Ready Rag” and “Sarah Brown Eyes.” From his eyes and his demeanor at the piano, the audience could feel the character’s passion for music and his love for Sarah. With just a glance at her husband or a hand on the shoulder of her son, Rachel Ihasz (Mother) embodied the matriarch figure. Her vocals and stage presence in numbers like “Back to Before” allowed the audience to connect to her sense of suffering.

The supporting cast also displayed incredible stage presence, dance skills, and vocals. Sarah (Leanne Antonio), the lover of Coalhouse and the mother of his child, beautifully expressed the pain of love and injustice through incredible vocals and excellent character work. In “Your Daddy’s Son”, she moved the audience to feel the agony of an alone African American woman, driven mad by the loss of her lover. Anthony Nieves, as Tateh, the Jewish immigrant father, connected to his character’s hope for the future through energetic displays in “Success” and “Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc.” Hagan Oliveras, as Younger Brother, revealed brilliant vocals in “He Wanted to Say,” spitting at inequality.

The ensemble exhibited powerful footwork in songs like “Gettin’ Ready Rag” and strong focus in “Til We Reach That Day.” Their commitment and energy by the end made up for any lapses in vocal strength. Featured roles, such as Emma Goldman (Linda Fountain), Booker T. Washington (Don Jeanis), and Evelyn Nesbit (Mia Borselli), also did a great job at connecting to their roles and presented high quality vocals.

The orchestra displayed great skill in playing the many pieces of Ragtime Although the music sometimes overpowered actors, the orchestra was consistently powerful and strong. The set also helped to create dynamic between characters, despite some slightly messy set changes.

Ragtime reminds people of that underlying sense of American nationalism inside themselves. Through an incredible production, the performers at J.P. Taravella worked their way into hearts and minds for a while to come.


By Hayley Adams of Boca Raton Community High School

Prejudice, love and the definition of family come together in the melting pot of early 20th century America. JP Taravella’s production of Ragtime displays that the path to the American Dream is a long and arduous one and “Till We Reach That Day,” life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Based off the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime was adapted for the stage with book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The musical follows the story of three families in the early 1900’s United States in differing social strata, all hoping to achieve the “good ole American dream.” The three families consist of the upper class white family, the African-Americans, and the Eastern European immigrants. The plot highlights their everyday trials and tribulations. The musical won Tonys for Best Book, Score, Orchestrations, and Lighting Design.

JP Taravella’s production was anchored by powerhouse vocals, elaborate characterizations and firmly established emotions. Leads and ensemble alike had something unique to offer the show and truly highlighted what life was like for families of all backgrounds in 20th century America.

sm164img_4861Leading the show was the character of Mother (Rachel Ihasz). As the matriarch of her upper class family, Ihasz’s firm understanding of character conveyed raw emotion and naturalism, and offered a glimpse into the hardships even suburbanite women came to face. Alongside her was Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Dashawn Perry) whose smooth voice and enthusiastic dancing brought Harlem to life and epitomized the true beginnings behind ragtime music.

The supporting cast broadened the dynamics of the storyline and proved that sometimes the underdogs are the ones with the largest impact. Sarah (Leanne Antonio) brought happiness and tragedy to the stage and floored audiences with her astounding vocals. Younger Brother (Hagan Oliveras) offered spot-on narration and solos that showcased the desperation people encounter when facing injustice.

The technical aspects of the show were exceptionally executed and impressive. The set was minimal and effective, although at times a bit distracting during scene changes. The live orchestra filled the theatre with the raw sounds of the music, keeping energy alive during big production numbers and the lighting shifted with each scene and tone. Even with some minor microphone malfunctions sound was notable given the fact that there were 36 microphone changes backstage throughout the production!

Overall, JP Taravella’s production of Ragtime is sure to introduce some “New Music” to theatergoers. Together, the cast and crew remind audiences that for some, the American Dream was a nightmare, and for others, it never came at all.


By Brian Brant of University School of NSU

Immigrants have made America an ethnic melting pot since the turn of the century. Although each may have their own culture and background, they all share one thing in common: the desire to make it in America despite the trials they will surely find. J.P. Taravella’s production of Ragtime tells the story of what happened once these newcomers arrived in New York and the challenges they faced there.

Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics Lynn Ahrens, Ragtime is the story of change in the early 1900s with a focus on three groups of families, and the new challenges they find themselves in. Ragtime premiered in Toronto in 1996 before making its Broadway debut in 1998, becoming an instant hit and winning four Tony awards. Ragtime has continued to inspire audiences for almost 20 years!

J.P. Taravella’s production was enhanced with the outstanding cast, full of personality and heart, becoming their characters. Unforgettable performances included Leanne Antonio who embraced the emotional Sarah as she sang to comfort her son. Leanne committed to the role and channeled her pain as she sang so gracefully about the troubles of being an African American in the early 1900s. Leanne’s acting choices and voice left a lasting impression. Another believable character was the powerhouse, Dashawn Perry, whose portrayal of the weary Coalhouse Walker Jr. created unbelievable chemistry between him and his love interest Sarah. His resilient voice and slick dance moves made Dashawn a real stage presence.

The Mother, played by Rachel Ihasz, used her stage time and vocals to achieve a lasting impression that surely intrigued the audience. Another positive component to the show’s success was the diligent ensemble who worked hard to maintain character and act as though they were a part of a changing America. Their powerful harmonies and fluctuating vocal levels left the audience with emotions and all sorts of goosebumps.

Although a majority of ensemble and main characters were clear in their singing and dialogue, a few cast members did not articulate, which left the audience confused. Along with the cast, there were many excellent technical aspects. However, it seemed as though the microphones were either not turned on or too soft at times.

Ragtime had a fast and determined crew that moved the sets quickly, creating a sense of flow. Another interesting technical aspect were the costumes used throughout the show. Not only were the costumes intricate in depicting the time period, but also showed the different economic and social levels for each of the three families and the changing times of America.

J.P. Taravella’s production of Ragtime was a heartfelt, emotional tale of the lives of different groups of Americans who under the most tense circumstances realized they had more in common than they thought.


Reviews of The Drowsy Chaperone at Cardinal Gibbons High School on Saturday, 11/15

By Jade Crosby of Pompano Beach High School

Have you ever been so inspired by a musical that it came to life in your apartment any time you listened to its score? If so, then you might be able to relate to the Man in Chairn a middle-aged musical theatre fan, who faithfully guides you through The Drowsy Chaperone, with both witty remarks and questionably valuable insight on this parody of 1920’s musicals.

With book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, and music by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone debuted in 1998 in Toronto and opened on Broadway in May of 2006. The show won five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, and has been performed in countries around the world. Recently, though, The Drowsy Chaperone was presented by a local school, Cardinal Gibbons High School. While some jokes had to be cut in order to maintain the Catholic high school’s standards, the show maintained its integrity as a comedy and certainly showed off the school’s talented actors.

The role of the Man in Chair is crucial to the success of the show. He is on stage for all of the show (save for a short “pee break”) and serves as a necessary comedic drive. It is a lot to ask of any actor, and fortunately, Tristan Hutchison delivered. Hutchison never fumbled and was always in the moment, even when he didn’t have lines. When the others sang, he danced and sang along. Another actor worth mentioning is the character sharing a name with the show itself, The Drowsy Chaperone. Played by Maggie Behan, The Drowsy Chaperone boasted excellent singing skills and the attitude which spiced up the role. Both her voice and her physicalities aptly portrayed her character, who was older and slightly… “drowsy.”

While it’s obvious that leads should come into consideration when assessing a show, supporting and featured actors provide just as must of a key role. Kitty, played as by Rheanna Magnifico, was a ditzy, wannabe star. Although the “dumb” character can often be seen as humorous, it is easy to cross into annoyingness. Magnifico toed the line and elicited laughs, in other words, she was a success. Another comedic character, Aldolpho, played by Dallas Erwin, worked well with his props and complicated costume. He also had the added difficulty of having a character with an accent. Despite this, his humorous moments were never missed. In addition to these two, Underling, played by Jonathan Flavell, deserves major credit. He stuck to his character through it all – even after having been spat on multiple times in a row.

When you think of your apartment, you think Broadway…or not. While you may not see the glittering lights in your own home, that magic was definitely found in the Man in Chair’s home. The versatile set required few changes from scene to scene, and yet it managed to suit every scene that it was in.

We can experience this magic too. Just put on a record and close your eyes… maybe not.


By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

We are all used to seeing plays about the usual topics: love, loss, and life. However, the comedy-savvy and extraordinarily talented students of Cardinal Gibbons High chose a show solely about making fun of old Broadway musicals in their refreshingly nuanced production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, The Drowsy Chaperone is a show that makes fun of the 1920’s age of Broadway musicals. Debuting on Broadway recently in 2006, the musical features a stereotypical Broadway fan boy so ordinary he isn’t even given a name. Referred to only as Man in Chair, this harmony loving, nostalgic theatergoer reminisces about the good old days while playing a record of the fictitious musical The Drowsy Chaperone when his sad, little apartment comes to life with the events of its storyline.

Leading the show as the snarky, misanthropic Man in Chair, Tristan Hutchison masterfully executed each and every one of his comedic lines to full effect. Even more impressive, Hutchison’s grandiose and giddy reactions to events onstage added another level of humor to an already hilarious production. Playing the title character of the Drowsy Chaperone, Maggie Behan had a mature understanding of the intricate satire required for the role, which showed in her blunt and blasé characterization. Behan relished in making fun of overly showy Broadway relics, especially in her intentionally bombastic rendition of “As We Stumble Along.”

Supporting the leads were a medley of parodied Broadway caricatures. One notable performance came from the sleazy seducer of ambiguous European origin, Aldolpho, played by Dallas Erwin. Erwin’s hilarious accent and on-point physicality made Aldolpho unforgettable on stage. With incredible talent in acting as well as receiving spit-takes, Jonathan Flavell’s portrayal of Underling was subtly hilarious, just as the role had to be. A trio expert in both pastries and puns, the Gangsters were a steadfast delight with their over-the-top facial expressions and thrilling chemistry.

Looking at tech, the set was simple, yet effective in usage of space was easy to transition. For the most part, sound and light cues were called on time and the performance was without major microphone issues. Costumes were changed quickly and efficiently, never making an actor late for an entrance after a quick change.

With such an educated style of humor throughout, most actors did an astounding job in understanding the comedy behind their lines and displayed a maturity uncharacteristic of high school students. However, at times some members of the ensemble lacked sufficient energy in many of the grander musical numbers. Nevertheless, a core group of extremely talented and disciplined actors carried the show, which made many moments on stage seem like they were executed by professionals.

The students of Cardinal Gibbons High School should be incredibly proud of their extremely entertaining production of The Drowsy Chaperone filled with splendid satire, fabulous facial expressions, and nonsensical nuptials.

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By Brooke Whitaker of Archbishop McCarthy High School

The words “I hate theatre” aren’t quite what you’d expect to preclude a wild musical, yet the curmudgeonly narrator doesn’t let his opinions stop him from giving the audience a madcap, wildly funny show in Cardinal Gibbons’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

A spoof on the glamorous hits of the 1920’s, The Drowsy Chaperone tells the tale of an eccentric fellow, simply titled Man in Chair, who wishes for the bygone eras of true, escapist musicals. He decides to treat the audience to his favorite record, the fictional hit The Drowsy Chaperone, and thus transforms his dingy apartment into a shimmering, extravagant world filled with over the top characters and situations. Punctuated by the Man in Chair’s commentary, often as absurd as what’s happening on stage, the show barrels along at a breakneck speed, enabled by the delirious energy of every single member of the large cast.

The key element of this show was character, and the talented actors of Cardinal Gibbons brought loads of it. The Drowsy Chaperone (Maggie Behan), the titular tipsy dame, took complete control of every scene she was in, whether it was with her perfect comedic timing or hilarious entrances. Her anthem “As We Stumble Along” proved to be her shining moment, and her vocals were as high and light as the bluebird’s song that kept her “stumbling along”. The Man in Chair, played by Tristan Hutchison, was also a knockout, serving as a constant comedic presence with his hysterical remarks and clever self-insertions into the scenes. His heavier monologues were also handled with abundant wit and charm.

Keeping up a consistent, distinct character in the midst of other larger-than-life personalities is no small task, and the actors took to the job admirably. The Gangsters, in all their pun-filled violence, proved to be full of well-choreographed slapstick humor. Aldolpho (Dallas Erwin) and Underling (Jonathan Flavell) were another two clear-cut characters with abundant, amusing charisma.

Props and makeup accented each scene, helping to establish either the time period or goofiness of a character. The goatees and drawn-on chest hair of the Gangsters added a delightful touch to their already riotous performance. The simple, clean nature of the set and the limited props used also provided nice, small touches to the lavish characters.

Cardinal Gibbons’s production was ultimately a fun, clever romp that exemplified the true essence of musical theatre, and provided a rousing night of entertainment.


By Thomas Neira of Stoneman Douglas High School

With spontaneous dance numbers, jazz hands, and just a tad of “iced water”, Cardinal Gibbons High School proves that a musical is the optimal way to lift your spirits and escape the monotony of everyday life in their rendition of The Drowsy Chaperone.

The hit comedy set in the late ‘20s pays homage to the golden days of the musical theater. Drowsy Chaperone, written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison is narrated by a die-hard theater fanatic, who seeks refuge from the troubles and humdrum of his daily life. With a bit of imagination and the record of his favorite musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, his cozy apartment transforms into a stage and the clock winds back to the height of glamour in the prohibition era. Winner of five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desks, the critically acclaimed musical opened on Broadway in May of 2006 and after 674 performances it closed in December of 2007 to go on a number of tours throughout North America, visiting more than thirty cities in the US alone.

In a show with such a large cast, oftentimes it is difficult for everyone to keep up their energy. But, the cast of Cardinal Gibbons High School fiercely brought that extra pizzazz to the stage especially throughout their large production numbers such as “Toledo Surprise”.

Maggie Behan played the unforgettable Drowsy Chaperone, perfectly capturing the essence of her character. Although her overall performance was outstanding, it is without a doubt that the highlight of her performance was in her anthem to alcoholism “As We Stumble Along” where her impeccable vocals rang throughout the theater. Elizabeth Bedley as Janet Van de Graaf also stood out for her striking voice in “Show Off”, where her commitment to the role was apparent as she danced on stage and literally jumped through hoops as she sang. But the hat must come off for the star of the show Tristan Hutchison playing the Man in the Chair. With his hysterical remarks and superior acting, Hutchison truly embodied the asocial fanatic.

Dallas Erwin playing Aldolpho, caused an uproar during his hilarious song “I am Aldolpho”. His accent never wavered and he masterfully built up his character’s ego. Jonathan Flavell as Underling also shone keeping his character consistent throughout the show.

Cardinal Gibbons High School made the executive decision to add a third gangster to gangster ensemble in the show, and personally, I couldn’t imagine the show without her! The three gangsters disguised as chefs, Anais Mamery, Morgan Bailey, and Macy McCauley, were unforgettable with their pastry puns and superb dancing. In the technical aspect of the show, the lighting design was noteworthy as they reflected the emotion intended in many of the scenes.

All in all, the cast of Cardinal Gibbons High School’s Drowsy Chaperone provided an excellent experience, as they brought to life the glamour of the 1920s in the apartment of a asocial fanatic.


By Gillian Rabin of Cypress Bay High School

You have biscotti be kidding me! The Drowsy Chaperone is here and there is muffin you can do about it! The Drowsy Chaperone, a satire poking fun at the theatrics of American culture during the 1920s, is a “musical within a comedy.”. Interacting with an eccentric man in a chair, the audience is drawn into this energetic and exaggerated example of the typical theatrics one would find in the golden age of Broadway as the man plays his favorite show’s record: the (fictional) 1928 musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. Cardinal Gibbons High undertook this hysterical hybrid-musical, mixing into their recipe committed characters, an energetic ensemble, and tactful technical tiers to create a wonderful show you doughnut want to miss!

Striving to succeed in the satirical styling imperative to the show’s execution, the Man in Chair (Tristan Hutchison), the Drowsy Chaperone (Maggie Behan), and Aldolpho (Dallas Erwin) all extended their performances beyond the expected. Portraying the beloved theatrical-junkie, Tristan Hutchison (Man in Chair) never missed a beat, even as his character “stumbled along” with the fictional original cast of the fictional Broadway musical. Behan’s comedic timing, her commitment to character development and consistency with facial expressions and mannerisms, and her superior vocal technique took the cake! Erwin’s regularity in his embellished accent and his magnified motions furthered the fantasy and the fabrication of the thespians in that time period. Following in their footsteps, or rather their tango, Rheanna Magnifico (Kitty) and Jonathan Flavell (Underling) brought their own strong flavors into the recipe. Magnifico was magnificent as the typical, slow starlet, seeking fame through relationships with older producers. Flavell gave an outstanding performance as the subservient butler, whose jocular jests drove the audience into hysterics; however, even under the physical humor, being spat on with water time and time again, Flavell’s character never faltered. Although not every performer maintained his/her character for the entirety of their stage-time, many earned their “time to shine.”

A musical is only as strong as its ensemble, especially in a parody of an era where musical numbers were grand gesticulations, full of gyrating girls and boisterous boys. Although the harmonies and the energy from the ensemble during the beginning of the first act lacked alacrity and accuracy, the ensemble’s liveliness and overall quality improved by the end of the first act, really sparkling during “Toledo Surprise”, and maintaining their shine throughout the second act. While some ensemble members seemed unsure of certain movements and others mouthed words to solos, three certain “pastry chefs” made a sweet impression crushing nuts and pounding dough. Never fudging their cohesiveness, the gangsters augmented one another’s performance, really committing to the characters and enabling the audience to enjoy their presence every moment.

An efficient set donned the stage, allowing for both accessibility and aesthetics. The flashing lighting, although bold, was a bit too distracting at times, taking away from the actors’ performances. The microphones experienced feedback, making the audience disagree with the man in the chair’s statement: “Hear that static? I love that sound.” Overall, however, the technical facets of the show proved a commendable effort.

Pudding their all into this production, the cast and crew of The Drowsy Chaperone proved that not only does the “Chaperone certainly have a way with words”, but that Cardinal Gibbons certainly has a way with musicals. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Reviews of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wilde at Deerfield Beach High School on Saturday, 11/15/2014

By Michael Shelfer of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

What are some of the wildest daydreams you have ever had? If your answer is that you have dressed up as Shirley Temple, been swept off your feet by Clark Gable, or been captured by King Kong, then you might have some idea of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, presented by Deerfield Beach High School.

The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild reveals the adventures, both the real and the fantastical, of its title character who attempts to cope with the challenges of her humdrum, everyday life by imagining herself in the multiple Hollywood movies that she adores. Written by Paul Zindel, it premiered on Broadway in 1972 and had 23 performances. While initially not very popular, it has since grown to become a popular production for colleges and community theatres to produce.

As Mildred Wild, Maya Quinones did a fantastic job of capturing the enchanting, but absolutely bizarre, spirit of a woman who can only find happiness in her own mind. Her style of exaggerated movements and words paid great homage to the same style found in those movies of the 1930s which her character so adores. Furthermore, Quinones also hit many comedic beats, especially in those scenes where Mildred fantasizes about her life in movies, such as King Kong or Gone with the Wind.

While Quinones carried the production overall, Christopher Hansen delivered a scene-stealing and hilariously entertaining performance as Mildred’s best friend, Caroll Chatham. He raised the energy of the show from the very first moment he came on stage and never let up. Bearing everything from a loincloth to a showgirl outfit, Caroll was a staple of Mildred’s fantasies, always playing the role of Mildred’s best friend or support network, and in a show teeming with outrageous characters and uproarious scenes, Hansen’s near-perfect performance was the most outrageous and uproarious of any other in the show.

Other notable supporting performances included Christian Ubillus as Mildred’s pathetic husband Roy Wild. Ubillus excellently grasped the detailed eccentricities of a desperate man losing his candy business and simultaneously cheating on his wife. Also noteworthy was Zynora Lowery as Bertha Gale, the woman with whom Roy cheated. Specifically, she nailed the comedic timing in a scene in which Mildred discovers Bertha is having a relationship with her husband. How Bertha reacted to Mildred’s discovery was gut-bustingly funny.

This production handled all its technical aspects very competently. The stage management crew moved props between scenes efficiently. Additionally, the flickering of lights served as an instrumental tool in preparing the audience for one of Mildred’s fantasies.

Anchored by a fantastic lead performance and a truly hilarious ensemble, Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild expertly blended elements of a complex character study and a historical analysis of the early days of Hollywood.


By Felicia Reich of American Heritage School

Lights! Camera! Action! The glamour, the glitz, and the grandeur of cinema may thrill the masses but to Mildred Wild of Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, they’re her life.

Although it did not find great success on Broadway, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild has continued to delight community theater audiences with its charmingly absurd characters and histrionics. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Zindel showcases an everyday housewife who escapes the insipidity of her life by living out her favorite movies.

The commitment to the show’s 1930’s movie style proved to be a collaborative effort ranging from the “searching spotlight” effect at the start of the performance to the melodramatics of the actors’ portrayals to the movie scores underlying the show. During the movie reenactments, the actors succeeded in not simply playing the film characters but playing their performance characters playing the film characters. This difficult intricacy did not go unnoticed and strengthened the integrity of the piece as a whole.

Maya Quinones, as Mildred Wild, created a character that not only provided good-hearted humor but also a middle ground in which she could appear relatable yet appropriately vulnerable. A truly impressive quality that Quinones employed was her unfaltering ability to act alongside each of her cast mates with equal enthusiasm and zeal. Christian Ubillus’s character of Roy Wild really found its footing in the later acts. Exemplifying the franticly disheveled husband of Mildred, Ubillus lived in Roy’s frenetic state until the stunning ending scene. In this scene, Quinones and Ubillus both connected beautifully to each other and highlighted their character’s growth and depth.

Whether as the butcher or a character in one of Mildred’s movie visions, Christopher Hansen as Caroll Ghatham brought forth an encapsulating presence to each of his scenes. Another recognizably significant performance was Fatou Jackson’s portrayal of Miss Manley. Although Jackson did not have abundant stage time, she developed a believable character that was thoroughly entertaining.

Costume change after costume change. Wig change after wig change. The wardrobe crew is to be commended for their agility and precision. For the most part, the transitions between reality and movie scenes were clear and easily distinguishable by a clever flickering light effect.

Deerfield Beach High School’s production of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild provided for an enjoyable evening and experience. The cast and crew left me with a fond reminder that, although Hollywood is for some, family is for all.


By Josie Roth of North Broward Preparatory School

Sometimes, we all need to escape – but Mildred Wild takes it to a whole new level! In Deerfield Beach High’s production of The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, zany movie references and whacky dream sequences collide with everyday life to show us that, sometimes, reality trumps fantasy.

Written by Paul Zindel, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild premiered on Broadway in 1972 and ran for only 23 performances, but has since found a home in community, high school and university theatres across the country. The story follows pop-culture-obsessed housewife Mildred Wild, who escapes the reality of her metaphorically crumbling marriage and literally crumbling apartment through elaborate fantasies involving her favorite films. It’s only when she wins the contest of a lifetime – the opportunity to become a “Hollywood Homemaker,” travel to California, and meet the stars – that she is forced to face the reality of her situation.

Deerfield Beach High School took the challenge of performing this unique show head-on. The entire cast was fully committed to its characters, and the actors’ excitement for the show shone through from beginning to end. Particularly noteworthy was their skillful use of physical comedy, which provided many side-splitting moments throughout the performance.

Maya Quinones, as Mildred Wild, carried the show to success with her undeniable energy and enthusiasm, and her acting range was showcased through increasingly elaborate dream sequences in which she spoofed famous leading ladies of film history. Her husband Roy Wild, who struggles to understand Mildred’s fanaticism, was impressively portrayed by Christian Ubiluss, and their exceptionally tender scenes toward the end of the play were highlights of the performance.

Among a particularly strong ensemble, two showstoppers were Caroll Chatham, Mildred’s flamboyant best friend (played by Christopher Hansen) and Bertha Gale, Mildred’s strict landlord who seeks to have an affair with Mildred’s husband (played by Zynora Lowery). Hansen’s impeccable timing brought an abundance of laughs, while Lowery’s understated yet powerful command of key scenes contributed greatly to the success of the performance.

Tech aspects of the show ran relatively smoothly. Set changes and sound and light cues were completed with near-silence and obvious precision. There were a few instances in which the thematic music overpowered the vocals of the actors, but these were immediately resolved and hardly detracted from the overall flow of the show.

Ultimately, Deerfield Beach High embraced The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild with gusto and zeal that one could feel even from the audience. Through their supremely hilarious performances, they showed us that, while everything may seem perfect in the movies, reality can be even better.


By Veronica Pereira of St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Every person dreams of being a star at some point, but not many take it to the level Mildred Wild does in her dream-like movie affairs. Set under one woman’s roof, many popular movies come to life in this production including King Kong and Gone with the Wind.

The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild by Paul Zindel captures the quirky thoughts of a young woman as she struggles to cope with reality. Performed by ten Deerfield Beach High School students, this show embodies the spirit and energy of a high school production through high energy scenes and colorful character development. This particular play debuted on Broadway in 1972, and although it only ran for a short time, it contiues to live on through community and school theater programs. The show appears to be set in the mid-nineteenth century in Greenwich Village under the Wild’s roof behind their candy shop.

The story of Mrs. Wild (Maya Quinones) switches between reality and the fantasy life she dreams in her head based off of various movies she has seen. The audience is shown a wide range of characters who Mildred has thought up for each of her friends and family members. For example, Caroll (Christopher Hansen) a young butcher always plays a sidekick, or friendly role in Mildred’s fantasies. Each fantasy moves the plot along through its relation to Mildred’s real life problems including her husband Roy’s treatment of her, and their pending eviction.

Mildred herself carried the show, and actress Maya Quinones pleasantly showed her ability to play a character who morphs into more characters while still keeping the original character’s personality from becoming overshadowed. Mr. Wild, played by actor Christian Ubillus, seemed to thrive off of Mildred’s energy. The actor portrayed his anxious awkwardness in a very humorous manner. Together these actors produced a comedic pair trying to keep moving forward.

Throughout the play, many characters were introduced and many actors embodied multiple roles, though a few stood out among the rest. Kydiana Jeanty (Sister Cecilia) brought forth another level of comedic characterization. Christopher Hansen played multiple roles as the best friend including a showgirl and servant, and each one was uniquely funny. Another actor, Jacob Adams was seen on stage as the construction worker, but truly shone through in his role as the radio host. Together this menagerie of characters pieced together a reality in Mildred’s secret fantasy world, and her reality.

Lighting played a large role in helping to define when a shift occurred between reality and fantasy. The variety in quickly-changed outfits also added a dimension of color and variety to the show which really enhanced the viewing enjoyment.

This particular show developed greatly as the three acts progressed and each one seemed to show more characterization. Mildred grew to understand reality more through her fantasies. The show was positively executed and effectively showcased Mildred’s reality.

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By Dustin Stabinski of American Heritage School

When we face hardships in our lives, it is normal to want to imagine ourselves in a perfect world. A world with conflicts, but a happy ending. However, when trying to bring paradise into reality, you may truly discover that fantasies were always meant to be a reach away.

Written in 1972 by award-winning playwright Paul Zindel, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild revolves around the life of Mildred Wild, a housewife and movie fanatic living in Greenwich Village. Presented through a series of fantasies, crises that Mildred faces are recreated, after shown in real life, as a movie from the 1930s. Throughout the course of her life, Mildred discovers that her life, although not presented on a silver screen, may have more meaning than the greatest of all motion pictures.

The cast of Deerfield Beach High School took a valiant risk in creating each of their characters and situations as representations of a movie from the 1930s. Using an arc of energy which rose as the show went on and reduced to a lighthearted resolution, the cast’s risk was a success combining the idea of 1930s blockbuster and the effect of a modern stage play to create a unique piece of theatre.

Leading the cast were Maya Quinones and Christian Ubillus, playing the roles of Mildred Wild and Roy Wild respectively. Quinones uniquely created Mildred as 1930s movie character that struggled to live in reality. As many movie personas of that period spoke in a very similar dialect, Quinones accurately matched the dialect which led to the creation of a believable and entertaining character. Ubillus’s creation of an anxious and awkward husband greatly contributed to the distant relationship of Mildred and Roy that the show intended. The two successfully created the relationship that the production needed with a final moment of complete honesty and believability from both Ubillus and Quinones.

Christopher Hansen, playing the role of Caroll Chatham, brought an astounding amount of energy and comedy to the stage. Playing a variety of different movie personas, including those of the opposite gender, did not stop Hansen from his creation of a strong, dedicated, and hilarious character. Hansen’s investment in his different characters was evident as his farcical character choices were presented naturally and exuberantly.

The technical aspects of the show contributed to the synthesis of a motion picture and a stage play. The stage crew did an excellent job with moving props and set pieces quietly and without any major disturbances. Although the music accurately fit the idea of the play, at many points the music’s volume distracted the audience from the characters’ dialogue and made it difficult to hear the actors on stage.

Through their strong collaboration, dedication, and excellent character choices the cast of Deerfield Beach High School’s production explains to the audience that although our lives may not be written out to be perfect, living in reality gives us experiences and memories that can never be typed out in a screenplay. That’s a wrap.

Reviews of Completeness at American Heritage School on Saturday, 11/01/2014.

By Kayla Goldfarb of Stoneman Douglas High School

Eureka! An algorithm for the perfect awkward night with that special someone has been discovered at American Heritage’s adaption of Completeness.

This relatively new romantic dramedy written by Itamar Moses tells the story of Elliot, a computer scientist, who sparks up a quasi-relationship with molecular biologist, Molly, and follows these two grad students as they fall in and out of love. Completeness was first produced at California’s South Coast Repertory in 2011. The show is continuing to surface among theaters along the country, but has yet to have any major tours.

Diego De la Espriella delivered an incredible performance as his character Elliot. His brainy quips and cliched jokes were expertly timed to perfection and never once lost the fluidity he had been running with the whole production, no matter how quick his diction ran. Katrina Hickey, however, stole the show as she played the quirky yet charming character of Molly. Hickey captured attention from the moment she stepped on stage until the second she left it. Yet, neither he nor she were as astonishing as their chemistry on stage. Together they were a completely organic compound!

Adam Setton and Alyssa Fantel were also enjoyable to watch as the former love interests of the leads, playing Don and Lauren respectively. Brian Pianka’s few moments on stage as a fellow grad student, the geeky Franklin, were enough to earn some giggles. The cast as a whole was simply outstanding with their characterizations of their similar nerd-like roles.

The stage crew was one of the most impressive technical feats of the show. Each scene transition was executed almost flawlessly; even with one minor slip towards the end of the show, the crew managed to fix it with ease. Sometimes they were almost invisible, as the show also featured an ingenious backdrop. The paneled screens acted as scenery, visual representations, and as a platform to view the original works of Alyssa Fantel, who wrote two lovely songs for the show.

With only scientific talk, whiskey, and some yeast, American Heritage’s rendition of Completeness was able to formulate a night of love and laughs.

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By Taylor Barth of JP Taravella High School

Insecurity, desire, and a love for all things science cause a chemical reaction at American Heritage School’s cerebral romantic dramedy, “Completeness.”

Completeness,” written in 2011 by playwright Itamar Moses, tells the tale of two braniac lovers, whose chemistry in and out of the classroom reveals an algorithm for happiness. Molly and Elliot are loquacious, self-absorbed graduate students who meet in the computer lab, sharing an instant spark that takes them on a problem-solving journey of chance, acute analyzation, and intense intimacy.

As a whole, the show was very well put together and kept a consistent and pleasant pace. The unique and original music written by Alyssa Fantel was beautiful, giving her the chance to showcase her superior vocal talent. Though at times the placing of the music videos were irrelevant and somewhat confusing, the editing and direction of the videos, executed by Adam Setton, was crisp and incredibly clean.

Molly, the quirky molecular biologist, was played by Katrina Hickey. Hickey commanded the stage with precise comedic timing and an extremely genuine personality, saying lines with impeccable diction and believability. Diego De la Espriella portrayed Elliot, the computer science grad student, with dynamic characterization, speaking of his science endeavors with full confidence and ease. Espriella and Hickey developed an extremely organic chemistry and charmingly awkward relationship with every uncomfortable laugh and endearing gesture, while also remaining fully engaged and realistic while talking about protein interactions.

Lauren, Elliot’s overbearing ex-girlfriend, was depicted by Alyssa Fantel. Though at times Fantel was overdramatic, she had moments of realness when pleading to Elliot to stay with her. Brian Pianka, as Franklin, did a commendable job playing a stereotypical nerd without being completely cliché, delivering his lines with a nice undertone of humor. While both actors had limited stage time, they were memorable and heightened the show’s stakes with added drama.

Technically, the show had minor errors, and overall, the technical crew conducted their job with extreme accuracy and professionalism. Make-up by Nicole Duran was minimal and simplistic, which worked for the majority of the cast. Props by Felicia Reich were overwhelmingly impressive with the smallest of household items accounted for, including ice in the freezer, magnets on the refrigerator, and even coffee for the coffee pot, adding a whole new level of realism.

Though the algorithm Elliot had been working to create ultimately fails, symbolizing the collapse of his relationship with Molly, American Heritage School’s production of “Completeness” succeeds in its own algorithm of original music, wonderful props, and superior talent.

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By Nick Lopez of Cypress Bay High School

Not many schools can shine a spotlight on yeast cultures and algorithms and keep their audience awake, but leave it to American Heritage to take on romance in the time of molecular biology and have the laughs and heartbreaks evoked in this unique, charming play resonate beyond both the microscope and the theatre.

Completeness is a relatively new play, first performed off-Broadway three years ago. Written by NYU graduate Itamar Moses, this quirky romantic comedy begins with a simple premise: computer scientist meets molecular biologist, computer scientist likes molecular biologist. The romance that blossoms ultimately captures the essence of the quintessential 21st century love story in its unlikely poetic portrayal of cerebral attraction hindered by emotional uncertainty.

Leading this six-person cast were Diego de la Espriella as computer scientist Elliot and Katrina Hickey as molecular biologist Molly. Their performances radiated with charm and authenticity and were successfully able to carry the show by breathing palpable humanity into somewhat archetypical characters. Their impressive ability to spout endless series of scientific jargon convincingly was amplified by their seamless command of a quick, semi-improvisational style of dialogue; as a result, they made what could have otherwise been contrived performances seem genuine and entertaining. Awkward silences were executed cleanly and naturally, and the chemistry between the two characters was touching and unforced. Their characterizations were spot on but subtle – they played off of the novelty of their geeky characters but steered away from overacting, thus retaining an organic foundation for the show’s emotional themes. Hickey’s charming comedic timing struck a perfect balance with the show’s quirkiness, and Espriella’s understated command of the show’s more dramatic moments led to a very authentic character arc.

Such commendable acting abilities were echoed in the supporting cast, all of whom shared a cohesive professionalism evident in the clear delivery of difficult, rapid dialogue and a visible comfort on stage. Alyssa Fantel showed versatility with her performance as Lauren, Elliot’s emotionally volatile ex-girlfriend, and provided some of the show’s most memorable comedic moments. Her less subtle approach to Lauren provided a nice contrast to the rest of the cast – she excelled both in the humor and tragedy of her character, and effective characterization of Lauren’s age grounded her successfully. Brian Pianka’s hilarious interpretation of Franklin, Molly’s research partner, was another standout supporting performance.

Heritage’s mesmerizing, multi-layered set was extremely creative in its application of the play’s themes into the production’s aesthetic elements. A powerful ambiance created by scenic projections in geometric, movable background screens was augmented by a set beautifully dressed set. The usage of props made the environments feel like organisms of their own – rooms looked lived in, and details such as personalization of individual laptops provided an extra level of intimacy to the production.

You might need a brilliant grad student to formulate a perfect biological algorithm, but it takes a powerful cast such as American Heritage’s to bring it to life and drive an immersed audience to re-evaluate their own definitions of emotional completeness. Whether or not you understand what the scientific fuss in Completeness is all about, one thing is certain – yeast cultures have never been so funny, charming, heartbreaking, touching, and thoroughly entertaining.

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By Alan Koolik of Pine Crest School

The complex fields of microbiology and computer science are daunting all by themselves, but adding in a convoluted story about love, loss, and the quest for ultimate knowledge and satisfaction makes it all the more challenging. This interweaving of the cerebral and emotional occurs in Itamar Moses’ play, Completeness, playing at American Heritage.

Itamar Moses is a modern American writer whose works span genres from musical theatre to television to classic drama. Completeness, one of his newer works, centers around the lives of two graduate students at a prestigious university; he’s a computer scientist and she’s a microbiologist. The crux of the story, however, is the overarching metaphor of Elliot and Molly’s (Diego De la Espriella and Katrina Hickey) work as it relates to their personal life. What ensues can only be described as wonderful.

American Heritage’s production of Completeness is strong on all fronts; the small cast of six captures the ethos, logos, and pathos that is represented in all forms by each character and show individuality as well as a unity that brings the story together. This is supplemented by a detailed set and strong technical elements, many of which were completed entirely by student designers.

Espriella and Hickey, as the two main characters Elliot and Molly, displayed strong chemistry throughout the show and were clearly intensely familiar with the work. Through fast paced banter that was almost always crisp and clear, they intimately debated about school, life, and love in ways that seemed organic and unscripted. They also made wonderful use of the multi-leveled set through graceful, almost dance-like, movement throughout the production.

The supporting cast (Alyssa Fantel, Adam Setton, Brian Pianka, and Natalie Navarro) were equally as adept with their characters’ performances. Fantel and Setton acted as former romantic interests to Elliot and Molly, and their foils added strongly to the climax of the show. A highlight was Pianka’s portrayal as Franklin, another graduate student in Molly’s lab; his witty take on his quick lines was not forgotten. The one major setback from almost the entire cast was the lack of precision in technical jargon throughout the play. While some of this was the fault of the playwright, the actors should have delved further into the details when studying the script in order to verify, and perhaps even change, some of the language to bolster accuracy.

The primary student technical aspects were sound design, props, and projections. On the whole these were strong, with the prop department deserving particular praise for maintaining a fully dressed apartment, coffee shop, and biology lab whose props were all timely and consistent. A criticism, however, falls to the projection team, whose animated additions to technical dialogue would have been very appreciated, had they been scientifically correct.

Overall, the production of Completeness from American Heritage School Center for the Arts presented a well-acted, well-put together play that was dampened slightly by the quality of the script. The cast and creative team worked around this, however, by infusing witty reactions, fresh takes on props and scenery, and thorough characterization that made this performance a true stand-out.

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By Juliette Romeus of Stoneman Douglas High School

Science and mathematics take a good-humored and passionate twist in American Heritage School’s production of “Completeness”.

A relatively new play, “Completeness” was first produced in April of 2011 by playwright Itamar Moses. This romantic dramedy centers around molecular biologist Molly and computer scientist Elliot as the success of their “seemingly impossible” algorithms for Molly’s experiment bring them towards an emotional connection with each other. However, as things go south in the scientific prospect of their experiment, their romantic relationship starts to fall as well. Questions about the reliability of the algorithms in producing precise and accurate answers awakens Molly and Elliot’s questions about each other and themselves. Ultimately, it all boiled down to one inquiry: how will they find what makes them complete?

Portraying the title roles of Elliot and Molly were Diego De la Espriella and Katrina Hickey. Together, these dominant actors kept the flow of the show moving, driving the intense plot while providing comedy into the mix. With Elliot’s awkward bravado and Molly’s charming little quirks, Espriella and Hickey developed their character’s unusual relationship with a grace that came across as natural and effortless. While some of the displays of emotion in Elliot and Molly’s fights appeared repetitive at times, Espriella and Hickey quickly recovered and delivered character development that positively progressed throughout the duration of the play. They went above their character’s typical “nerd” stereotypes and added interesting and compelling layers that were pleasant to watch.

Supporting Elliot and Molly were their exes: Lauren(Alyssa Fantel) and Don(Adam Setton). Fantel’s portrayal of the desperate but caring Lauren and Setton’s portrayal of the jealous but caring Don highlighted the contrast of the relationships in the show in a clarifying light, aiding in bringing the production’s plot to life. Although some characteristics of Lauren and Don were not clear at times, Fanteland Setton promptly reclaimed their characters with swift delivery of comedic lines and emotion.

The small but intimate cast of six, as a whole, worked together in a way that was fitting for the show’s dynamic. The relationships between characters were clear and precise, with their intentions stated firmly at each character’s introduction into the story line.

Technically, the production ran without a hitch. The stage crew, led by Brian Haimes, efficiently switched off giant set pieces in a short amount of time. Blackouts also became part of the plot, as a well produced music video directed by Adam Setton,featuring originally composed music by Alyssa Fantel offered insight to a character’s inner emotions.

American Heritage School’s production of “Completeness” reminds us all that love comes in many shapes and forms, and that even the “brainiacs” can become caught up in emotion.

Reviews of Dreamgirls at Dillard Center For The Arts on Saturday, 11/01/2014.

By Nicky Macias of Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory

dreamsmThe unforgettable score and elaborate struggle faced in the musical “Dreamgirls” is undeniable. Dillard Center for the Arts’ production swept you back to 1960s Detroit, and encompassed the drive and persistence the Dream Girls needed on their road to stardom. The stunning musical score is composed by none other than Henry Krieger, and the book and lyrics are by Tom Eyen.

Dreamgirls” is set in the 1960s to the 1970s and envelops the fight three young black women faced to make it big as a singing group. Car salesman Curtis sees something special in the bunch and guides them to become partners with Jimmy, a high-esteemed soul performer. Soon, the Dreamettes turned Dreamgirls become their own entity, until Effie gets overshadowed when Deena is put on lead, bringing the group into chaos. Effie leaves, but can’t find it in herself to abandon her beloved, Curtis. The Dreamgirls continue off with someone new, Michelle, and they become household names, while Effie’s potential and passion pushes her to fame on her own.

Dillard Center for the Arts’ spunky and extravagant production anchored on the powerhouse Imani Brown, who portrayed Effie White. With gorgeously altered costumes and a cleverly exquisite set, the high school theatre transformed into the soulful ages. Filled with gasps, laughs, and tears, the audience was taken on an emotional ride throughout the progression of the moving musical that is “Dreamgirls.”

Imani Brown who starred as Effie White was no amateur to the riffs and belts that were ever-present in Effie’s struggle. Left in admiration, we felt her pain and were left in awe after each emotional ballad such as the classic “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Zaria Modeste played the role of Deena Jones. She was undeniably comfortable in the shoes of Miss Jones, her glimmering smile and ease in the role was quite charming. Of course, the hilariously delightful Keondre Pascal’s portrayal of Jimmy Early, caused the audience to roar with laughter. His commitment to character, and spot-on execution of his solos such as “The Rap” were filled with energy. The ensemble’s few appearances shined the stage with beautiful colors, as the costumes translated the time period.

The live band that accompanied the performers were stars on their own. The use of the sets and lightning left the audience with never a dull moment, as the arc of the plot never took a pause. With some malfunctions and mistakes along the way technically, the actors never let it affect them.

Overall, “Dreamgirls” is a tough production to tackle, and Dillard Center for the Arts’ efforts were ever present. Covering the emotional spectrum, The Dreamgirls and Jimmy Early carried their production to a night of glittering fun!

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By Julie Godfrey of Pompano Beach High School

With fabulous outfits and hairstyles, a rockin’ orchestra, and singing voices that boomed through the theater, it’s safe to say that true soul was brought to the stage in Dillard High School’s production of “Dreamgirls.”

This fun musical is set in the early 1960’s R&B scene. A group of three talented young women want a start in show business, and car salesman Curtis Taylor Jr. says he can get them just that. But with show business comes drama, tension, and struggle.

Effie White, played by Imani Brown, awed the audience with her strong vocals in both her solos and in the group numbers. Her take on “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” was powerful and mesmerizing. Her facial expressions when she sang seemed so real and organic that one couldn’t help but feel with her. At times in the show energy seemed a little lacking, but White was always at the top and showed the attitudes and sassiness of her character perfectly.

The other three Dreamgirls, played by Zaria Modeste, Tatyana Mack, and Joi McCoy, portrayed the chemistry and relationship of the girl group very well. Whether it was with a love interest or with one another, they were always genuine and energetic. Another great source of brightness in the show was Keondre Pascal’s portrayal of Jimmy Early. Pascal not only cracked the audience up with his singing and dancing, but also with his smooth talking persona.

The costumes in this show did a great job of keeping consistent with the time period and also aided in showing a progression of time with the change of fashion styles. The show had a great versatile set that was able to be used for every scene and every situation. The stage crew seamlessly carried out the scene changes, and was never a distraction during scenes nor was anyone seen in the wings, which is a difficult thing to manage in a large cast production like this.

The cast and crew put on a great show that was a delight to watch. The strong vocalists, great actors, beautiful costumes, and soulful music performed live with a great orchestra all made Dillard High School’s “Dreamgirls” a dream to witness.

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By Kathleen Twichell of Pompano Beach High School

What happens when you combine three dreamers from Chicago, a car salesman, a lyric writer, a producer, and a hotshot music star? Why, “Dreamgirls,” of course!

This last weekend, Dillard High School made their own mark on this 1981 musical that follows the rises and falls of the group, The Dreams. With music and lyrics by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls is an inspiring show of friendship and show biz.

Dillard took to the challenge with determination, the orchestra surging up into the rafters with a practiced ease. Choreography, as well, was strong, especially in “Steppin’ to the Bad Side.” While there was not an abundance of chemistry or depth between the characters on stage, the Dreams, played by Zaria Modeste, Tatyana Mack, and Imani Brown, were a standout group. The trio pulled and pushed against each other as though they were old friends, and reacted to each turn of events with as a whole, without each individual losing her personality.

Imani Brown as Effie Melody White carried with her a commanding stage presence that was a joy to watch. Both she and Zaris Modeste as Deena Jones truly performed with aplomb, crafted characters that became audience favorites. Keondre Pascal, who played Jimmy Early, also formed a memorable role with his dynamic voice and high energy.

Although there were technical difficulties throughout the show, most of the actors did not let the obstacles affect them. Certain performances in the show shone in the spotlight, such as Amaleke Bradley’s short dance solo in “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” and the ensemble of Les Styles in “I Miss You, Old Friend.” As a group, the main cast of characters — Curtis Taylor Jr., Effie, Deena, Lorrell, C.C., and Jimmy — coalesced into a strong front.

With a versatile set and period compliant costumes, Dillard tackled the technical side of “Dreamgirls” appropriately. Though lighting did not always fall on the proper side of the stage on cue and microphones often gave feedback, the show did not overall suffer a tremendous amount.

Chronicling an emotional and collaborative journey, “Dreamgirls” is a challenging production for a high school to tackle, but Dillard High School rose to the occasion admirably, in a show well-received and praised by the audience.

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By Neil Goodman of North Broward Preparatory School

When fame leads to bald-faced betrayal, impetuous impregnation, and audacious adultery, is it really worthy of these girls’ dream? Dillard Center for the Arts’ production of “Dreamgirls” deftly demonstrated the darker side of fame.

Set in the 60’s then 70’s, “Dreamgirls,” with music by Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, tells the tale of an upstart music group and their tribulations with various men of the music industry. Originally made up of three best friends, the Dreamettes get their big break when they land a backup gig for R&B sensation Jimmy Early. As they climb the ladder to fame, the girls, especially Effie, face difficulties sharing the fame and finding a good man. With 13 Tony nominations and 6 wins, “Dreamgirls” was certainly well received on Broadway in its time.

Leading the show as the deafening diva Effie White (Imani Brown), Brown’s dominant vocals effortlessly conveyed emotion and made songs such as “And I’m Telling You I Am Not Going” unforgettable. Even when not singing, Brown had powerful stage presence and a mature understanding of such a multi-faceted and pivotal character.

Alongside Effie was a core group of wonderfully talented supporting roles such as Jimmy Early (Keondre Pascal). From his enviously rich vocals to his hilarious dance moves, Pascal proved to be the quintessence of a multi-talented performer. Another member of the famed Dreamettes, Deena Jones (Zaria Modeste), was always a joy to watch with her steadfast energy and constant chemistry with fellow actors. Making every moonwalking moment meaningful, ensemble member Amaleke Bradley’s dance moves mystified all who had the pleasure of witnessing.

Looking at tech, the set was very efficient in its usage of space and housed many lighting fixtures quite cleverly. However, throughout much of the production, there were frequent and distracting sound errors, but the cast and crew made a valiant effort to overcome such difficulties. A truly impressive feat, the student orchestra literally never missed a beat while playing for almost the entire show nonstop.

With its on-point harmonies and incredible energy, the show had moments where it was almost on par with a professional production. On the other hand, there were also times when actors seemed a bit unclear about their objectives and relationships. Although there were diction difficulties in some scenes, a core group of talented performers made up for it with their enthralling ballads and stage presence for days.

The talented students of Dillard Center for the Arts admirably undertook this monster of a musical with a swagger and grace uncharacteristic of high school students.

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By Tristan Hutchison of Cardinal Gibbons

Triumph, loss, and the importance of family. Sounds like the ingredients of a classic in the making, right? Well, you’re close! It’s Dillard High School’s production of Michael Bennett’s “Dreamgirls.”

Originally opening on Broadway in 1981, “Dreamgirls” follows the story of three young women trying to break into show business in the early 1960’s. Their group is called “The Dreams” and it includes hefty Effie White, soft-voiced Deena Jones, and gentle Lorrell Robinson. It isn’t long before they are discovered by former car salesman Curtis Taylor, and he helps them break into show business. Soon, they are singing back up for the famous R&B singer James “Thunder” Early. But they will soon learn that show business is not all it’s cracked up to be.

This production showed off a variety of talent from its young cast. Some memorable performances include Imani Brown’s portrayal of Effie White. You truly felt sorry for her when “The Dreams” kicked her out of the group and replaced her with another woman. Brown was a delight to watch on stage, especially during her song “I Am Changing.” Another wonderful performance in this show was that of Zaria Modeste, who played Deena Jones. Zaria’s performance really captured what show business can do to you, such as betraying one of your closest friends. Her voice was lovely to listen to in every tune she sang, especially in the song “Dreamgirls.” The final performance that stood out was Lorrell Robinson, played by Tatyana Mack. Mack’s character seemed to be the glue of the trio, always trying to keep everyone happy and the fighting to the minimal. Mack had a few funny lines that helped bring some joy in serious scenes.

All in all, the entire cast did a splendid job. Each actor seemed to know what his or her job was in the show and who their character was intended to be. Everyone seemed natural and focused while on stage, although the ensemble could have had more expression on their faces while on stage. At times, there were a few technical issues, such as microphone problems and lighting but this did not stop the actors from giving a nice performance. Dillard’s Jazz Ensemble was one of the many highlights of the show, playing each song live and wonderfully.

Dillard’s production of “Dreamgirls” was a great experience. The show had the audience laughing, crying, and hoping that the three “Dreamgirls” would find their way in the world and someday become everybody’s dream.

Reviews of Sideshow at North Broward Preparatory School, 10/17/2014.

By Kathleen Twichell of Pompano Beach High School

Come one, come all, to see the twisted aberrations of the Bearded Lady and the Reptile Man, gaze on the Hashemite Sheik and his harem or the Cannibal King far from home, or perhaps you’d prefer to lend your eyes and ears to the chilling voice of the Siamese twins.

Curiosities such as these abound in the 1997 sung-through musical “Side Show” by Henry Krieger and Bill Russell, performed by North Broward Preparatory School last Friday night. Based on the real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton who toured in a freak show and vaudeville in the 1930’s, “Side Show” is a winding tale of romance and lessons learned.

North Broward Prep did a brilliant job of maintaining energy during this challenging performance, and nearly every voice rang out with aplomb. Songs such as “Come Look at the Freaks” and “Rare Songbirds on Display” showcased the ensemble’s vocal and choreographic strength, creating a stunning display on stage.

Miles McKee shone as Terry Connor, uptight producer and love interest to Daisy Hilton, and brought with him a unique voice and engaging personality to the character. Likewise, Katelyn and Kelsey Malanowski captured sibling trials and tribulations in memorable performances of Daisy and Violet Hilton. Together, they combined two voices and characters, pleasant on their own, into one remarkable act.

Throughout the show, most voices stood the test of constant use and the cast upheld a consistent quality of performance. In nearly all of the vaudeville songs, the ensemble showed a tremendous ability to synchronize, as well as to work around the equally impressive acrobatics occurring just a few feet away. Though a few actors lacked expression at times, the overall production was full of dynamic characters come to life. One such character being The Boss, played by Samantha Hodes, who was energetic and captivating for each moment on stage.

Each singular aspect of the show came together, much like Daisy and Violet, to create a striking image of a freak show and vaudeville in the 1930’s. The orchestra played every song without a hitch and, though the music occasionally overpowered the voices, the cast did a wonderful job adjusting to the difficulties. Microphones, too, had a few moments of hardship, but none of this deterred the actors from carrying on with the show.

Side Show is an obscure but fascinating piece, weaving the lives of carnival “freaks” with sisters, different as night and day, and two producers caught in the net between fame and love. Despite any obstacles along the way, North Broward Preparatory School pulled off this demanding production with a polished flare.

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By Leonardo DeLima of Deerfield Beach High School

Step right up! Step right up! Step right up to North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Side Show”! You! Yes you! Come on in! Come see the Bearded Lady! Come be amazed by the Geek! What’s that? Yessir, the Geek! No, he won’t fix your computer but I guarantee you haven’t seen anything like this!

Loosely based on the real life story of Siamese twins Daily and Violet Hilton, this pair of sisters became famous during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Their condition paved the road for great fame, but at a great cost, the cost of love. This story, told almost entirely in song, follows the sister’s progression from a circus act, to vaudeville, and finally to the big screen. The musical, with story and lyrics by Bill Russell, and music by Henry Krieger, was nominated for 4 Tony Awards in 1997. North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Side Show” comes out just in time for the Broadway revival set to open on November 17th, 2014 at the St. James Theatre.

With their remarkable voices, Katelyn Malanowski (Daisy Hilton) and Kelsey Malanowski (Violet Hilton) seized the stage with their angelic voices, and elegant presence. Twin sisters in real life, their chemistry was more than apparent. The true issue became telling them apart! The secret lay in their faces. With identical clothing, what separated the twins was their attitude. Katelyn stood tough and demanding, always with her face held up, while Kelsey took on the more submissive role, with dreams and aspirations of a “normal” life.

Miles McKee (Terry Connor), a very promising young actor, took the role of a business manager, an investor. Taking a chance on promoting the sisters, he would soon find himself getting “More Than [He] Bargained For”. McKee was an excellent display, the maturity of this role was met with the passion of the actor. It was a perfect fit. This talent was matched by his vocal performances throughout. If the sisters were angelic, then McKee can only be described as heavenly.

Samuel Kelley-Cohen (Buddy Foster) was the reason behind it all. If not for him convincing Connor to give the girls a chance, then they might still be back at the freak show, McKee couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

The ensemble, as “The Freaks”, was a constant feature in the show. From lines of dialogue, to full musical numbers, The Freaks were a sight to see, from the interesting make-up and costumes, to the freaky dance and musical numbers!

A true extravaganza, “Side Show” shows us that no matter how we may look, we all long for love and companionship. Such is our right, and all the money and all the fame could never be an adequate replacement for that of unconditional love. North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Side Show” was a true sight to see, almost akin to an eighth wonder of the world.

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By Cameron Maglio of Deerfield Beach High School

The geeks, bearded ladies, and fortune tellers of the freak show travel from the popcorn littered carnival scene to the Township stage for North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Side Show” by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger.

The play loosely follows the lives of real Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton as they are swept up into fame, love, and, ultimately, heartbreak by the charismatic vaudeville agents Buddy Foster and Terry Connor.

It was a risk to even tackle a show where the two leading ladies must be joined at the hip at all times, but the execution of this concept, along with the movements and design of the rest of the cast of the freak show, made the show unique. The two leading ladies (Kelsey and Katelyn Malanowski) filled the auditorium with their identical enchanting voices, all while keeping their separate personalities intact. During the vaudeville numbers, Violet (Kelsey) managed to portray underlying tones of stage fright while meeting up to the spotlight-soaking charisma of Daisy (Katelyn). Terry Connor (Miles McKee) delivered heavy emotional impact alongside Daisy during the song “Personal Conversation,” conveying both his desire to be with Violet while simultaneously wanting her all to himself, all with a powerful vocal performance that echoed across the production.

The Reptile Man (Neil Goodman) was adorned with green, reptilian makeup from head to toe and flailed and jumped around with the energy of an excited frog. Not only was there the usual ensemble dancing, but also trapeze stunts as performed by Rikkiya Brathwaite and Aaron Downie added another layer of choreography to the stage. The Boss (Samantha Hodes) demanded all eyes with her exceptionally energetic and ear-catching voice, making her style of singing distinguishable from the standardly beautiful voices of the leads and ensemble.

The set of the freak show spawned the scent of cotton candy and funnel cakes with its stained, yet colorful, wood; strings of lights and detailed carnival tent curtain that was only used briefly, but set the stage for the show to follow. The orchestra could have very well been confused for a CD recording of the tracks, all timed perfectly with every line of sung dialogue, especially with conversations between the two leading men.

Sometimes the pitch of a few actors could make songs difficult to listen to, but the emotion of the characters was still rather apparent. Some costume changes weren’t executed completely, but the cast took all measures possible to hide this on stage. There were times when some of the actors’ energy seemed to be depleted from their bodies, but other members of the cast would be sure to liven things up.

“Side Show” is no doubt on the more difficult side of shows to produce, but North Broward Prep made this production the next best thing to traveling to the state carnival and seeing the freak show in person.

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By Samantha Gaynor of Coral Glades High School

Audience members that attended North Broward Preparatory School’s production of SIDE SHOW to “Come Look at the Freaks” certainly received “More Than [They] Bargained For.” This production enthralled audiences with strong lead characters, powerful singers, cohesive ensembles, and lively dancers. These traits were especially impressive when dealing with such a challenging show.

This sung-through musical follows the story of conjoined twins Daisy (Katelyn Malanowski) and Violet (Kelsey Malanowski) Hilton who differ in personalities and mannerisms. Raised in a freak show, these girls are offered their big break with the help of Terry Connor (Miles McKee) and Buddy Foster (Samuel Kelley-Cohen). Complications develop when the girls’ dreams differ and when different love interests arise.

Capable lead characters brought SIDE SHOW to life. The Malanowski twins were quite a match for each other as they both shined equally through definitive character choices and powerful singing voices. They perfectly portrayed the role of conjoined twins when onstage by offering contrasting characters with rich facial and bodily expressions. McKee astounded the audience as well with his performance and ability to portray an older talent scout. His character’s conflicting emotions and personality developed throughout the show, revealing clear acting choices that created a complex and realistic grown man.

The entire cast was filled with dynamic and impressive vocalists. Katelyn and Kelsey Malanowski clearly exemplified their prowess by balancing their singing levels, perfecting every harmony, and maintaining their characters while singing. Lead male McKee flawlessly executed every harmony and note with his strong melodic voice. He especially shined in “Private Conversation,” his heartfelt duet with Daisy. Kelley-Cohen also demonstrated his aptitude, especially in “You Deserve a Better Life,” “More Than We Bargained For,” and the comedic “One Plus One Equals Three.” Even ensemble characters like the Fortune Teller (Jensen Kurmel) excelled with incredible singing.

Ensemble members were another driving force of the show. The characters did not distract from main action at any time and provided a unified and consistent group whether they were portraying the bold freaks, slow-motion reporters, or scintillating party guests. Each ensemble actor seemed to make clear character choices and the group as a whole had clear chemistry in whatever roles they portrayed in a particular scene. Notably in “The Devil You Know” and “We Share Everything,” the ensemble shined in its cohesive interaction.

All dancers produced a vital part to the convivial dance numbers. Outstandingly, Rikkiya Brathwaite as a harem girl and Mitchell Tobin as a roustabout offered synched and controlled movements. Tobin especially wowed the audience with his impromptu split.

Dealing with such a challenging piece of musical theatre might be daunting for some, but North Broward Preparatory School executed SIDE SHOW to near perfection through paramount actors, singers, and ensembles. Audience members were left satisfied when they finally had to “Say Goodbye to the Freak Show.”

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By Aaron Bourque of South Plantation High School

The circus often evokes nostalgic memories of colorful clowns and sweet flying elephants. Well, not this one. North Broward Preparatory School profoundly redefines the word “circus freak” in their production of “Side Show.”

With book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger, “Side Show” tells the story of the Hilton sisters: Siamese twins who have been subjected to the harsh, relentless life of the circus. When businessmen Terry Connor and Buddy Foster offer the twins fame and fortune in the vaudeville circuit, the world becomes nothing like they have seen before.

The co-stars of the freak show, Daisy and Violet Hilton (Katelyn Malanowski and Kelsey Malanowski, respectively) did well translating their actual kinship to the stage, capitalizing on the bickers and concessions characteristic in sibling rivalry. The sisters tackled the challenge of the through-sung musical by providing consistent, powerful vocals that harmonized beautifully. They also effectively distinguished the Hilton sisters’ distinct duality of identity, with Katelyn capturing the dominant and blunt nature of Daisy, and Kelsey doing the same for the shy and humble nature of Violet. Their dual characterizations played off of each other quite well, allowing for an engaging performance.

Terry Connor and Buddy Foster (Miles McKee and Samuel Kelly-Cohen, respectively) displayed a lively and humorous connection that complemented each other’s performances. McKee’s deft control of vocals and defined physicality expertly demonstrated his inner turmoil of romancing with a Siamese twin, especially in the song “Private Conversation.” The Boss (Samantha Hodes) brought a dynamically entertaining stage presence with extremely high energy, filled with animated, erratic stage movements and piercing vocals.

The ensemble, which primarily consisted of other circus show freaks, was fluid in movement and astounding with powerful vocals. Each actor defined their own character separate from the ensemble group with distinctive, idiosyncratic stances and gestures, allowing for a very novel performance. Although some actors were sometimes rigid in their characterization, the sheer energy of the ensemble as a whole surely compensated for it.

The incorporation of student aerial dancers and trapezes was professionally done, and enhanced the circus environment created. Scene transitions were quick and seamless: stagehands nimbly wove between actors to efficiently prepare for the next scene. The make-up effectively portrayed both the 1930s Americana and circus characters. Heavily detailed make-up, such as ornate scales and green skin for the lizard man, functioned synergistically with the unique styles used for each circus show freak to even further define individual characters within the ensemble.

Beyond deformity and behavior, North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Side Show” exposes the little bit of ‘freak’ that resides in all of us.