Cappies’ Reviews of South Florida High School Theater

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 19th year, the Cappies enrolls theatre and journalism students, trains the m 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. TESTING

For more information about the Cappies, visit www.cappies.com/sfc/Home.aspx

The most recent reviews will be at the top of the page, but all of them will appear here all year.

 

Reviews of Into the Woods at NSU University School on Friday, 3/11/2022.


By Amanda Jones of Cardinal Gibbons High School

In a world where fairytales not only come to life, but collide with each other, there are sure to be moments in the woods that may create a sense of agony, yes, but of also hope of living happily ever after. Into the Woods challenges this sense of perfect endings, creating an intricate story inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairytales. NSU University School took the magic created by this musical to show that truly anything can happen in the woods.

With Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, Into the Woods premiered at the Golden Gold Theatre in 1886. It follows a Baker and his wife, who, in order to have a child, must attain four objects for a witch that placed a curse on the family years ago. On their journey, they become intertwined with well-known stories such as that of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk. NSU brought this story to life through its stunning numbers and strong character progressions.

The production in its entirety was clearly well thought out and executed, the actors working around the unique set to entrance the audience into the story, and the creative use of props such as the cow, birds, and beanstalk. The cast was able to carry energy and hold true to their characters throughout, even as the story turned to a darker theme. Though some deaths in act two were rather abrupt and not executed clearly, the relationships, especially the familial, were strongly portrayed. The musical numbers were the true highlight of the musical, the cast excelling in bringing order through the songs that chaotically overlap.

The Princes, Anthony Langone and Levi Cole brought high excitement and energy to the production, especially in their interactions. Anthony Langone was able to strongly differentiate his roles as the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, creating memorable characters for each. Shayna Soffer as the Baker’s wife entranced the audience with her voice, while Noah Han as the Baker engaged the audience with great comedic timing. Another character of note for comedic timing was Nancy Roig as Granny, who made the audience laugh even through minimal lines.

The stage management team did an excellent job at making the show run smoothly with the challenge of its excessive cues. Though costumes lacked cohesive style throughout the cast, they showed thought, being color coded for characters from specific stories. Makeup was well done, especially being visible on Ellie Esquenazi as Little Red Ridinghood, yet some wigs didn’t seem to blend with actors and took the audience out of the story. Overall, the crew did an incredible job in creating a stunning production.

From the first to last midnight, NSU University School’s production of Into the Woods took the audience on a journey of laughter and tears, with its high energy, memorable characters, and unique design.

*** *** ***

By Abigail Alder of North Broward Preparatory School

Entering the woods takes courage, resilience, and shoes suitable for running away from a charming prince. In NSU University School’s production of “Into the Woods,” wishes are granted, but everything comes at a price. For these fairy tales, happy endings are never guaranteed.

With Tony Award-winning music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and writer James Lapine, “Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway in 1987. Starring the legendary Bernadette Peters as the Witch, “Into the Woods” was a success, running for 765 performances. The show has seen numerous revivals and tours since its opening. Disney’s film adaptation of the same name was well received and earned three nominations at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. “Into the Woods” places a dark spin on classic stories, following a childless baker and his wife, who are cursed never to have more than a bun in the oven. Desperate to reverse the spell cast by the neighboring Witch, the couple embarks on a quest for strangely specific ingredients. With assistance from Jack (and a soon-to-be beanstalk), Little Red Ridinghood, and Cinderella, the spell fades amid a whirlwind of deceit and selfishness. In this magical world, does the end justify the “beans?”

Noah Han (Baker) led the show with sincerity and rose to the challenge of an emotionally charged role. His partner, Shayna Soffer (Baker’s Wife), exhibited an understanding of her character as she volleyed between fantasy and reality. Haleigh Mish (Witch) demonstrated strong physicality and effectively conveyed her character’s transformation from a haggard state into a newfound beauty. Mish’s singing showcased her powerful range, and her grief carried an authentic vulnerability.

Lindsay Stern (Cinderella) gave a sweet-natured princess a wistful air, and she sang with a crystal-clear tone. Playing “A Very Nice Prince,” Anthony Langone (Cinderella’s Prince) received constant laughs with his impeccable comedic timing and commitment to the role. The lovable thief, Ellie Esquenazi (Little Red Ridinghood), had striking confidence and shone exceptionally bright as her character matured in Act Two. Through the challenges of a complicated score, the cast sustained their endurance with only minor diction issues.

The technical elements contributed to the fantastical atmosphere by giving the classic fairy tales a punk rock twist. The set, constructed by Nico Wellons and his crew, worked brilliantly by giving the actors ample room and levels for staging. Cleverly crafting a beanstalk from a structured rope was not only effective, but it complemented the desired aesthetic. Though the costumes did not represent a specific punk decade, the alternative style was apparent. Little Red Ridinghood’s costume change as she matured worked exceedingly well. The coordinating princes added an extra layer of outrageousness to their “Agony.” Commendably, Max Hsu’s musicianship enhanced the performance by emphasizing Sondheim’s brilliant motifs and themes.

No one can be too careful in the treacherous woods, but as NSU University School’s production of “Into the Woods” reminds audiences, “Witches can be right. Giants can be good. You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.”

*** *** ***

By Ayala Erez of South Plantation High School

Imagine vines stringing down from a beanstalk that is taller than anything in any fairytale; imagine the sunlight streaming through and warming you down to your toes; imagine understanding birds, talking to giants, and reversing magic spells. NSU University School brought imagination to life in their outstanding modern, punk-rock rendition of “Into the Woods.”

Based heavily on Brothers Grimm fairy tales, “Into the Woods” is a compilation of intertwining stories including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, and Jack and the Beanstalk. At the Martin Beck Theater on November 5, 1987, the show opened on Broadway and was received very well, winning three Tony Awards throughout its run and getting a movie adaptation in 2014. Written by James Lapine with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, these characters enter the woods looking for something materialistic but end up with a family.

Noah Han, playing Baker, beautifully took on a husbandly and fatherly role with an abundance of emotion going into every aspect of his character. At the end of the song “No More” there was a glimmer in his eyes as though he was on the verge of tears; excellent commitment to the role was shown. His ability to dig so deep created the believability that made the show. His partner-in-crime, Baker’s Wife, played by Shayna Soffer, was equally as thorough and had an unmatched stage presence. Their vocals in “It Takes Two” came together wonderfully and their back-and-forth bickering made laughter a constant sound in the theater.

As their family grew, Little Red Ridinghood entered the picture, played by Ellie Esquenazi. She was able to fully embody the youth of the character and showed the character’s thought process with every step she took. This helped the child of the character come across as innocent and confused, further adding to the character development. Her stage pictures with the Wolf, played by Anthony Langone, were an impactful part of the scene between the two. Coupled with his complete vocal control and their ability to physically embody the characters, the song “Hello, Little Girl” was unforgettable. The ensemble had a noticeable lack of character choice but had a lovely part in creating the forest and helping the leads.

As a new stage manager, Nico Wellens handled a show with a high level of difficulty extremely well. The careful planning led to the excellent execution. Costumes were a huge part of creating the punk-rock feel of the show and while Little Red Ridinghood’s second cloak was fantastic, many ensemble members were simply clothed. Cinderella’s shoes are a highlight as they were brilliant sparkly gold wedges that presented the alternative feel the creative team was going for; a superb decision from Grace Davidson and Stephanie Snyder from the costume crew.

NSU University School’s new twist on “Into the Woods” is one of extreme originality, dazzling special effects, and familial love. Their communication of the true essence of the story made thoughts swirl about the wants of materialistic things versus the wants of a real connection.

*** *** ***

By Naomi Sternberg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

In a forest full of hungry wolves, charming princes, and cow-loving kids, there’s an element of solidarity that comes from it. “Into the woods, it’s time, and so I must begin my journey” to NSU University School’s production of “Into the Woods”!

“Into the Woods” is the subversive musical about fairytales that intertwines the Baker and his wife, trying to create a potion so the Witch will get rid of the curse on their barren family tree, Jack, who is forced to sell his cow friend, Little Red Ridinghood, trying to get to her grandmother’s house, and Cinderella, who just wants to go to the King’s ball. The show features music and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim and won a Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Book in its original production.

Noah Han, playing the cursed Baker, displayed a wonderful act, with his impressive comedic timing. Han impressively was able to completely switch from humorous to serious in the second act, as evidenced by his emotion during “No More”. The Baker’s strongheaded wife (Shayna Soffer) also exhibited great emotion, especially during “Moments in the Woods”. Although the role didn’t give many opportunities for her voice to shine, Soffer made the best of what she had and presented gorgeous vocals.

Cinderella, played by Lindsay Stern, was another standout character. Stern’s voice was beautifully consistent for the entire show and always on key. Her chemistry with the Baker, Little Red Ridinghood, and Jack at the end was charming and really came into its own during “No One is Alone”. Speaking of charming, Cinderella’s Prince played by Anthony Langone was a character in of himself. His consistent physicality brought laughs from the audience anytime he was on stage. He was amazingly committed to his character. Langone also had great chemistry with Rapunzel’s Prince (Levi Cole), especially during “Agony”.

Other remarkable characters include Little Red Ridinghood (Ellie Esquenazi) and the Witch (Haleigh Mish). Both Mish and Esquenazi were comedic characters with consistently great energy throughout the performance. They had clean characterization and were able to pull off both the funny moments as well as the serious, dramatic moments.

The props, done by Lucy Crawford, Karina Lopez, and Nancy Roig, were a league of their own. The cow itself was such an interesting prop that it alone can be commended. The other minimal yet necessary props only added to the show. The costumes, led by Grace Davidson and Stephanie Snyder, while technically not punk-rock and not always cohesive, were gorgeous nonetheless and looked great on everyone.

After seeing the show, “I Know Things Now”, and what I know is that NSU University School’s performance of “Into The Woods” was a hit!

*** *** ***

By Emma Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, lived a beautiful princess, a baker and his wife, a boy and his beanstalk, and a curious little girl. They each embarked on a journey into the woods, had all of their dreams granted, and lived happily ever after – almost. Reminding us of the old adage, “be careful what you wish for,” NSU University School’s production of “Into the Woods,” tells a tale of the troubles of a fairytale gone awry.

With a book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the mystical musical made its Broadway debut November 5, 1987, claiming three Tony awards. From shoeless princesses to giants of the sky, the story intertwines the well-known plots of various Brothers Grimm fairytales. Centered upon two bakers vying to reverse a curse, each character sets forth on a quest of their own, encountering unforgettable “Moments in the Woods.”

Noah Han led the production as the protective Baker. From his impeccable comedic timing to his moving solo, “No More,” Han showcased his stellar range and captivating character development. Accompanying Han as the independent Baker’s Wife, Shayna Soffer also showcased multidimensionality as her character endured a significant emotional journey. The malicious, yet secretly sentimental Witch was embodied by Haleigh Mish. In addition to her impressive vocals and phenomenal comedic delivery, Mish exceptionally utilized her theatrical physicality and strong characterization to convey her astonishing transformation as her evil spell was uplifted.

Playing Cinderella, the warm-hearted peasant-turned princess, Lindsay Stern brought a sense of sweetness to her persona through her elegant intonation and stunning vocal performance. Cinderella and Rapunzel’s Princes, portrayed by Anthony Langone and Levi Cole respectively, commanded the stage through their hilarious dynamic, unfaltering energy, and royal stage presence. Ellie Esquenazi, as the chatty and wonderstruck Little Red Ridinghood, conveyed both the wide-eyed naivety and the progressive maturity of the role exquisitely.

The entire ensemble developed individualized characters bringing the storybook world to life. The innovative incorporation of ensemble members into various scenes amplified the busy wonder of the woods. In addition to the beautifully blended harmonies, the student-done choreography by Maddie Musso magnificently utilized the multi-leveled set, creating stunning stage pictures.

From the quiet village to the entrancing woods, the technical aspects of the production marvelously illustrated the fictitious world, reimagined with a 2000s punk twist. The vitality of the fairytale was conveyed through the richly colored lighting, while the stage management team never missed a cue. From the “cow as white as milk” to the “slipper as pure as gold,” the props crew perfectly represented the essential items of the Witch’s demands.

As midnights pass, maidens flee, and mysterious men attempt to make amends, the thrilling fantasy proves that “happily ever afters” may not always match what you first imagined.  Overcoming bitter curses, big bad wolves, and the “Agony” of loss, NSU University School’s production of “Into the Woods,” proves that even through tragedy and despair, there always remains a glimmer of hope as “No One is Alone.”

*** *** ***

Reviews of Grease at West Boca Raton High on Thursday, 3/10/2022.


By Chantal Mann of North Broward Preparatory School

Swimming at the beach, bowling with friends, snacking on ice cream to beat the heat, and staying up late to watch movies. Reminisce on memories of “Summer Nights” as West Boca Raton High School takes you back to the 1950s with their production of “Grease.”

“Grease,” popularized by the 1978 feature film of the same name, opened Off-Broadway in February of 1972, before moving to the Broadhurst Theatre that June. The original Broadway production was more aggressive and vulgar than the versions performed today, and these themes were toned down for both the movie and future productions of the show. Since the release of the movie and the Broadway Production, “Grease” has been revived on Broadway twice and had multiple U.S. National Tours, as well as multiple productions in other countries.

Lindsey Davidson starred as Sandy, the innocent new girl in town. Davidson wooed audiences with her beautiful voice, commanding the stage in her Act 2 solo, “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” Sharing the stage with her was Lucas Brown, who played the charming Danny Zuko. Brown brought a strong air of confidence to the role and was able to land his comedic moments while still finding more emotional and vulnerable moments for his character. He also showcased incredible vocals, especially in his solo, “Sandy.”

Leading the Pink Ladies was Shelby Turner as Rizzo. Turner portrayed Rizzo masterfully, expertly bringing the audience on a journey along with her character as she showcased Rizzo’s more vulnerable and sensitive side that hid behind her tough exterior. Her powerful voice was the cherry on top. Paisley Kinkade as Jan delivered a hilarious performance, with countless laugh-out-loud lines. Desir Dumerjuste was also extremely funny as Roger. Together, Kinkade and Dumerjuste had exceptional chemistry and countless hysterical moments.

The Pink Ladies (Davidson, Turner, Kinkade, Rebecca Findley as Frenchy, and Mia Font-Lorie as Marty) worked extremely well together as a group and had great chemistry with one another. The Burger Palace Boys (Brown, Dumerjuste, Marcos Ortis as Doody, Jaden Blanco as Kenickie, and Aiden Zeitchick as Sonny) also had incredible chemistry with each other and could be seen interacting with each other even when the focus of the scene wasn’t on them. They also utilized their character gestures extremely well, which helped to strengthen their characterization.

The ensemble of the show had high energy from start to finish, which is especially impressive considering the difficulty of their choreography. That being said, some pacing issues arose during the dialogue scenes, with some moments seeming to drag on a bit too long. The set was used well by all the actors and was enhanced by the appropriate usage of carefully selected props (Ella Martinez). The costumes (Kelsey Bonner and Rachel Frenchman) and make-up (Morgan Seeley and Mariel Ricks) were also done very well, staying true to the period and enhancing the characters greatly.

Allow yourself to feel the nostalgia of summers long gone as West Boca Raton High School’s production of “Grease” shows audiences that they truly were ” Born to Hand-Jive.”

*** *** ***

By Sarah Wyner of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancin’ shoes.” West Boca Raton High School’s exciting production of “Grease” explores the complexities of love and the importance of friendship. Filled with teenage drama, 50s style fashion, and fun-filled dance numbers, get your groove on and be prepared to hand-jive all night, baby!

Transporting us into the era of poodle skirts and slick-backed hair, “Grease” first jived its way to Broadway in February 1972, receiving seven Tony Award nominations including best musical. With music, lyrics, and a book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, “Grease” follows the story of two love birds, Danny and Sandy, who appear at the same school after spending the most magical, secretive summer together. With his reputation on the line, will Danny stick to his dignified, charming demeanor, or let loose and go steady with Sandy?

Portraying the charming and steadfast leader of the Burger Palace Boys, Danny Zuko, was Lucas Brown. Radiating confidence, Brown led the production showcasing outstanding acting and vocal abilities, most specifically in his touching, tender solo, “Sandy.” Brown elevated the production with his excellent comedic timing and sharp dance moves. Alongside Brown was Lindsey Davidson embodying Sandy. Davidson exhibited beautiful vocal technique and displayed great character choices that successfully captured her character’s sweet and naive persona.

Desir Dumerjuste embodied the mischievous best friend to Danny, Roger. Dumerjuste lit up the stage with endless energy, vibrant facial expressions, and adorable physicality. As Roger’s new love interest at Rydell High, Jan, Paisley Kinkade demonstrated unfaltering vitality and wit that made for a very enjoyable performance. The two had organic chemistry that aided in the believability of their blossoming romance, leaving the crowd “mooning” over their eye-catching characters. Another standout performance was that of Shelby Turner as Rizzo. Turner’s captivating presence was exhibited through her strong characterization, powerful vocal technique, and entertaining line delivery.

Aside from a few minor setbacks, the technical aspects of the production made the show “go together” efficiently. With over 540 cues, the stage management team, led by Jasmin Klein and Dorielle Blech, respectively, must be commended for their immense organization and skill. Hair and Makeup was cleverly crafted, with wigs that stayed in place and makeup looks that assisted in bringing each individual character’s personality to life.

As an ensemble, the Burger Palace Boys worked brilliantly together with impressive vocal technique and palpable energy. While also displaying individuality between their characters, the Burger Palace Boys had an excellent friendship dynamic and great understanding of timing that made the performance that much more enjoyable.

At the end of the night, audience members were left “hopelessly devoted” to the cast and crew of West Boca Raton High School’s production of “Grease.” Proving to be a relevant comedy touching on the subjects of romance and teenage rebellion, “Grease” reminds us all that even in the stickiest of situations, the power of friendship can overcome any perilous obstacle.

*** *** ***

By Emma Bruce of Calvary Christian Academy

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancin’ shoes.” So grab your dancing shoes, and see this nifty musical. It’s Grease by West Boca High School!

Grease is a 1950s musical spectacular, with captivating music, characters, cool cars, leather, and big hair. This musical is beloved and has withstood the test of time. Created in 1971 by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease is Broadway’s 16th longest-running show. When most think of Grease, they think of the 1978 feature film of the same title, which starred John Travolta and  Olivia Newton-John. The plot of this show follows a young couple as they navigate the triumphs and tribulations of high school. The show in its time had received many criticisms for its realistic and unchildlike representation of high school. Grease is a powerhouse musical full of complex characters and songs. It takes incredible actors to portray the beauty that lies in between the lines of the script. West Boca High school does just that!

West Boca High Schools’ rendition of Grease is a magnificent example of why we celebrate High School Theatre. From the ensemble to the lead characters, the characterization, harmonies, dancing, and energy were remarkable. This is a marvelous cast that knows what they are doing! There was never a dull moment. Everyone on stage was always engaged and doing their absolute best.

Lucas Brown ( Danny Zuko) had an exhilarating performance. Brown is a talented actor and singer. He also proved to be a superb dancer in the song “Born to Hand-Jive.” He had beautiful chemistry with his love interest Lindsey Davidson (Sandy). Davison was a gorgeous sight to see as she floated across the stage. She had poise, classiness, and a lovely voice. Making her character change in the finale even more dramatic and exciting to see. Two outstanding groups of people were the Pink Ladies and The Burger Palace Boys. They had hilarious characters like Paisley Kinkade (Jan) and Desir Deumerjuste (Roger). Each character had their fun quirks that you caught anytime you looked in their directions.

Grease includes powerful belting ballads, and these students brought the talent. Shelby Turner (Rizzo) not only had great energy but a phenomenal voice. She created an entirely new dimension to her character and made the audience see the heartbreak of her story. Another stand-out character was Erin Nadel (Tenn Angel/Miss Lynch). In her stand-out role as Teen Angel, she had the voice of an angel, quite literally. She was angelic and glorious to watch. Getting to see her as a crabby teacher then transform into a graceful entity is a testament to her range.

No show is complete without tech! First, a round of applause for the stage management crew, with over five hundred ques and minimal mistakes, their hard work paid off. The set, lighting, props, costumes, and makeup were a work of art. They all came together for breathtaking numbers such as Grease Lightning, Summer Nights, and Beauty School Dropout. The technical elements of this show were what Cappies celebrates, the creativity and beauty of high school theatre.

West Boca High School created a show that will be raved about for a long time. This show was an extraordinary sight to see. It was hard to believe that this was a high school show! Thank you to all the students that put on their dancing shoes and gave such a thrilling performance.

*** *** ***

By Arianna Rotondo of Calvary Christian Academy

Grease is the word at West Boca Raton High School. It may not be automatic, systematic, or hydromatic, but it definitely is the show to see!

Before it became a favorite for movie-goers, Grease debuted at a Chicago nightclub in 1971 originally written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It soon transferred to the stage having successful runs on Broadway and the West End, closing with 3,388 total performances by 1980. By this time, it was considered the longest running show on Broadway, but has since been exceeded and is now sixteenth longest running. Since closing, Grease has had many revivals and continues to be loved by those of all audiences. Grease follows a group of seniors as they navigate the difficulties of love, friendship and the pressures of fitting in.

Playing Sandy and Danny Zuko, Lindsey Davidson and Lucas Brown made a fantastic pair and both complemented each other perfectly especially vocally in songs like “Summer Nights”. Brown did a great job throughout with always drawing attention whenever he was on stage and truly embracing the mannerisms of Danny. Davidson did exceptionally well fitting right into the sweet and gentle side of Sandy. Portraying the complete opposite as Rizzo, Shelby Turner did a phenomenal job with her character. Even though there were some challenging songs, she sang each song with ease. Most commendable was her rendition of “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee”. In addition, she embodied Rizzo bringing her to life on stage, never wavering in energy even in the background and had amazing stage presence.

The Burger Palace Boys had great chemistry with each other and worked very well together, their enthusiasm and dedication to their specific roles and as a whole made for an amazing performance. They were able to show off their dance and vocal talents wonderfully. Roger (Desir Dumerjuste) specifically had great vocals and phenomenal comedic timing. Acting alongside Jan (Paisley Kinkade), who had excellent comedic timing, the pair were enjoyable to watch on stage. Another commendable performance was Eliana Herr as ChaCha Digregorio. With her excellent accent and impressive choreography, she commanded the attention whenever she was on stage.

The ensemble raised the bar in this production. It was evident that each person was excited to be on stage. Even when in the background, they never wavered in energy or enthusiasm. Along with their confidence in the choreography and strong vocal abilities, they gave an electrifying performance.

The tech flowed smoothly and came together beautifully which added so much more to the performance. Stage Managers Jazmin Klein and Dorrielle Blech had a difficult task of calling so many cues, but executed it perfectly, being clean and concise everytime. On top of that, Costumes and Hair and Makeup were spot on with the time period, and the accuracy made the characters believable.

From summer nights to prom, there’s just no getting over West Boca Raton High School’s production of Grease!

*** *** ***

By Andrew Emerson of J.P. Taravella High School

Well it’s automatic, it’s systematic, it’s hydromatic, why it’s West Boca High School’s jaw dropping production of “Grease”! This 1950’s smash Broadway hit presents the turbulence of high school romance and how to find your place with newfound friends.

The book, music, and lyrics were done by the partnership of Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. First opening on Broadway in 1972, “Grease” ran 3,388 performances, coming to a close in 1980, and now stands as the 16th longest running Broadway show. This musical romance is best known for its 1978 film adaptation with Olivia Newton John and John Travolta, taking the stage as Sandy and Danny. These two high school lovers find themselves in a conflicting situation when they wind up at the same school after a romantic series of “Summer Nights”.

Portraying the red hot leader of the Pink Ladies, is Shelby Turner as Rizzo. Turner’s powerful stage presence was captivating, her powerful, melodious vocals only made better by her clear understanding of Rizzo’s character. Each connection Turner made with her scene partners felt true, especially her back and forth relationship with Kenickie, brought to life by Jaden Blanco. Blanco and Turner’s chemistry was a beautiful depiction of this iconic relationship, where both got to show off their solid dance moves while they were “Shakin’ at the High School Hop”. Kenickie made the perfect scene partner to the bad boy greaser Danny Zuko, portrayed by Lucas Brown. The two clearly had a blast getting into mischief together, Brown always making sure to put himself in the spotlight with his stunning vocal range and impeccable dance abilities.

Our leading groups of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies had fantastic chemistry together, playing off of each other perfectly while standing out as individuals throughout every scene. Their vocals blended seamlessly together, highlighting tight harmonies and exuding confidence with each note. It was impossible to confuse who was who given their distinct characterization and bold decisions, which created a remarkable, hilarious performance. Constantly adding to the laughs were standouts Jan, played by Paisley Kinkade, and Roger, by Desir Dumerjuste. The pair were highly characterized and hysterical, getting their own shining moments apart and enhancing each other’s performances together.

The ensemble held the weight of this show with their indescribable vocal abilities, their melodic energy never wavering. Each harmony was clearly heard, with crisp notes and distinct lyrical overlaps demonstrating how hard this ensemble worked on their agile vocal performances. Each dance step they took was bold, the clean-cut choreography executed gorgeously. This group was clearly “Born to Hand-Jive”. Heightening their work was the costume team, with quick changes and flashy costumes. Every costume was of high quality and fit the 50’s aesthetic perfectly, with not a thread out of place. These gorgeous costumes were executed by Rachel Frenchman and the costume crew.

Keep your heart set on remaining “Hopelessly Devoted” to West Boca High School’s stupendous production of “Grease”, and watch the Summer lovin’ of the unforgettable Sandy and Danny Zuko.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Les Misérables School Edition at American Heritage School on Thursday, 3/10/2022.


By Elena Ashburn of Cooper City High School

“Do You Hear the People Sing?” American Heritage School’s production of “Les Misérables School Edition” invites the audience to join in their crusade as they bring the musical classic to new heights.

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, “Les Misérables” has music by Claude Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Herbet Kretzmer. Set in post-Revolution France, it follows the life of Jean Valjean, a criminal who escapes his parole after 19 years in prison in search of redemption and a new life. Throughout the show, Valjean is pursued by the dogged Inspector Javert, tasked with raising his adopted daughter, and faced with the July Rebellion in Paris, all while continuing his journey for redemption.

Miles Levitan (Jean Valjean) absolutely blew the audience away. His rich, deep voice suited Jean Valjean flawlessly and helped to transition through the different stages of his character’s life with believability and ease. His performance of “The Night (Bring Him Home)” was particularly heavenly as he serenaded the audience with his prayer in falsetto. His chemistry with every character on the stage, from Javert to Cosette to Marius, was enticing and fully developed. He navigated the leading man’s struggles with grace, poise, and intense emotion; there was not a moment on stage he did not capture everyone’s full attention.

Dylan Tuccitto (Javert) shined brighter than “Stars” during his performance as the persistent antagonist of the show. His booming vocals commanded the stage, and his emotional performance was moving, particularly during “Javert’s Suicide” where he grapples with his actions and choices after Jean Valjean spares his life. Playing a schoolboy revolutionary, Ethan Shavelson (Marius) balanced great characterization with strong vocals as he sang “the songs of angry men.” His performance was believable and honest, and his chemistry with his two opposites, Cosette and Eponine, was enviable.

The ensemble of the show was phenomenal. Although at times their movements distracted from the action of the show, every person on the stage was engaged and deeply committed.

The technical elements of the production deserve the highest of praise. The unsung heroes of the production never sang; the student-run orchestra, comprised of 31 students, stole the show. Their commitment to music with such a high level of difficulty was commendable. Their sound never overpowered or overtook the actors, and their performance elevated the show immensely. The set of the show was innovative. Although there were slight issues moving it around, its use in creating unique tableaus during scenes added to the storytelling element of the show.

American Heritage School’s production of “Les Misérables School Edition” is a heartbreaking tale of love, loss, and redemption. It is a fabulous reminder that “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

*** *** ***

By Emily Kaufman of Cooper City High School

A tragic tale of bloodshed, love, and loss is presented by the American Heritage School in their captivating production of “Les Misérables School Edition.” From barricades to bars, audiences are taken on an emotional journey as they are brought into this tense and thrilling production.

Adapted from the 1862 novel, the sung-through adaptation of “Les Misérables” was produced in 1985 with music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer. With approximately 13,964 performances, this tragedy is the longest running musical in the West End, playing for over 32 years. The story follows lead protagonist Jean Valjean over a 19 year period as he runs from his parole officer, Javert and we are introduced to characters throughout his journey.

Commanding the stage was Miles Levitan (Jean Valjean) with strong character choices, powerful vocal abilities, and vulnerable delivery. His presentation of range and mastery of his voice in songs like “Bring Him Home” was nothing short of impressive. Opposite Levitan was the show’s main antagonist, Dylan Tuccitto (Javert), who possessed incredible emotion and strong melodies throughout his performance. Tuccitto did a superb job in showcasing the passion and pain his character experienced in the second act.

Having a “Heart Full of Love” was Ethan Shavelson (Marius) in his delivery of the compassionate and hopeful lawyer. Shavelson’s vocal ability was showstopping and perfectly complimented his flawless physicality and diction. His convincing chemistry with Diane Li (Eponine), allowed them to have a clear struggle between their relationship and highlight their character’s motives. Li possessed a beautiful tone and showcased genuine individuality in her performance. Her pristine voice caused her to stand out in both solo and group numbers.

Filled with bargains and beggars, the ensemble always stayed true to their characters and supported the production with confidence in their vocals. Though at times they drew attention away from soloists, the cast should be commended for their commitment to this demanding production. Keeping up energy and coming together in numbers like “Do You Hear the People Sing/Epilogue” and “One Day More,” they were truly moving. “Master of the House,” Roie Dahan (Thenardier) and his wife Natalie Farver (Madame Thenardier) perfectly portrayed the greedy couple with their witty humor and embellished personality.

Technical elements of this production are a battle to tackle, but the students of the American Heritage School succeeded in presenting the show with magnificent beauty. The American Heritage Orchestra played with perfection and their sound was breathtaking. The students must be praised, as the degree of difficulty for this show is extremely high as they were tasked with playing an intricate score, while consistently accompanying the cast throughout the entire production.

“At the End of the Day,” the American Heritage School’s take on this classic production was nothing short of remarkable. Their committed and beautiful performance taught us that you must always have courage, love and resilience.

*** *** ***

By Lauren Kim of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Do you hear the people sing? It’s American Heritage School’s production of “Les Misérables, School Edition”!

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, “Les Misérables, School Edition” is the harrowing tale that follows Jean Valjean, a French peasant who seeks to redeem his life after serving in prison for 19 years. With music by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, this story first debuted onstage at the Palais de Sport in Paris before moving to the West End in London, where it ran from October of 1985 until July of 2018, making it the longest running musical in the West End.

Playing the former convict on his quest for redemption, Miles Levitan conveyed a brilliant performance as Jean Valjean. His powerhouse vocals combined with versatile physicality displayed an incredible range of emotions in not only Jean Valjean’s journey with himself, but in his developing relationships with other characters as well. Whether he was comforting his adopted daughter Cosette in “The Bargain” or being confronted by Javert during “Fantine’s Death”, Levitan illustrated true commitment to his character through his deep connection to others and himself.

Ethan Shavelson also executed a masterful portrayal of the young, but courageous student Marius. Through his first appearance in “The Beggars” to his blossoming romance with Cosette, played by Emma Ferguson, Shavelson displayed dynamic vocals as well as impeccable chemistry with every character he interacted with. Ferguson also shined as Cosette through her breathtaking operatic vocal range, which was showcased beautifully in every number she was in. Another dynamic duo that must be commended were the Thenardiers. Played by Roie Dahan and Natalie Farver, both Madame Thenardier and Thenardier had flawless comedic timing and captivating physicality that brought the much needed comedic relief throughout every moment they were on stage. From their first appearance in “The Innkeeper’s Song” to their entrance in “The Wedding”, the Thenardiers truly demonstrated that they were the masters of the house whenever they were on stage.

While the Ensemble is not the principal focus of the show, they must be praised for their full engagement and energy throughout the entire production. Whether they were “Lovely Ladies” at the docks, soldiers in the French uprising, or even just regular townspeople, every single member had a personality of their own that was demonstrated through their deep bonds with each other supported by vocals that blended seamlessly.

Despite some delays in transition, stage crew must be commended for keeping everything mostly on time for a show that harbors an immense degree of difficulty. Another feat of complexity was the incorporation of a student orchestra. Not only did the orchestra keep with the pacing of the actors, but they also maintained enough volume to coincide with the actors’ vocals throughout the entire performance, which is admirable to say the least.

Through one man’s journey to redeem himself in the midst of a French uprising, American Heritage School’s production of “Les Misérables, School Edition” left audiences yearning for “One Day More” of their inspiring performance.

*** *** ***

By Emma Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

“One day more. Another day another destiny.” Reverberating his pursuit of redemption, former convict Jean Valjean declares this melody on the eve of the Paris student uprising. Through the bloody battle in a fight for a better future, American Heritage School’s captivating production of “Les Misérables School Edition” encompasses themes of love, mercy, and justice.

With book and lyrics by Alain Boublil and music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Les Misérables is a worldwide sensation, known as an iconic theatrical masterpiece. Based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name, this sung-through musical takes place in the French Countryside and Paris from 1815 to 1832. After 19 years of unjust imprisonment, the story begins upon Jean Valjean’s release. Amidst the somber backdrop of the French government’s indifference to the widespread suffering of its people, the show is underscored by the fervid spirit of revolution.

Miles Levitan, as the heroic protagonist Jean Valjean, commanded the stage with his booming voice, superb vocal control, and impressive range. Levitan quickly established authentic maturity, which he continued to progress through his modified physicality as his character aged. Valjean’s adopted daughter Cosette, the innocent and curious ingénue, was embodied by Emma Ferguson. Ferguson continuously showcased her stunning soprano register and magnificent vocal technique. Levitan and Ferguson excellently depicted a moving father-daughter relationship.

Portraying Marius, the romantic revolutionary, Ethan Shavelson’s airy vocalization, wonderfully depicted character arc, and investing love triangle enhanced his stellar performance. With her scrappy street-smarts and loyal heart, Eponine was played by Diane Li. Accompanying her dynamic, buttery vocals, Li’s genuine line delivery and expressive facials made her storyline absolutely captivating. Embodying Thenardier and Madame Thenardier, the opportunist thieves, were Roie Dahan and Natalie Farver respectively. Through their superb comedic timing, physical comedy, and ability to bounce off of each other’s antics, the dynamic duo interrupted the heavy themes of the show, providing hilarious comedic relief.

Through their well-developed characterization and engaged reactions, the ensemble was comprised of effective storytellers who helped communicate the intricate plot. Employing the symbolic blocking and lively staging, the cast’s bustling stage business created a vibrant environment. Enlivening the production, the impressive harmonies were executed phenomenally. Each cast member remained consistently engaged and their energy never faltered.

The technical elements of the production immersed viewers into the classic world. Aided by the innovative utilization of the versatile set, the date projections and vivid lighting helped establish the changing settings. Delightfully recreating the songs of the challenging score, the orchestra was immersive while remaining flawlessly balanced with the actors.

Formerly known as Prisoner 24601, through this epic tale of grandeur and passion, Jean Valjean fights to redeem his character and worth beyond just a number. Up until the final breath, American Heritage School’s enthralling production of “Les Misérables School Edition,” serves as an exploration of the meaning of love and salvation.

*** *** ***

By Cameron Miller of David Posnack Jewish Day School

The black of night enshrouds the evening sky, and red blood saturates the streets, yet the air is full of hope. In this life, we live and die for love and liberty. The age-old duel between pleasure and pain, innocence and guilt, and revolution and tradition came to life on the stage of American Heritage’s production of Les Misérables.

The sung-through musical follows the miserable lives of a group of French citizens in the early nineteenth century. Set over the course of eighteen years, the story itself was the brainchild of the immortalized French novelist Victor Hugo. In 1980, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, and Jean-Marc Natel adapted Hugo’s historical masterpiece into a musical that premiered in France. The translated play reached the stage of The Broadway Theater in 1987, going on to win eight Tony Awards and become the longest-running musical in Broadway history.

The curtains opened to a group of men in tattered prison uniforms lamenting their inescapable fate to “always be a slave.” From the first note of the show to the last, Miles Levitan portrayed the protagonist, “convict on the run, Jean Valjean,” with astounding vocal perfection and vivid, raw emotion. With a range that could span horizons, Levitan brought age and believability to his character through his deep-toned voice in the Prologue while also flawlessly executing the highest of vibratos in his plea, “Bring Him Home.”

The tragic Eponine, brought to life and eventually death by Diana Li, personified the misery of unrequited love. Eponine is in love with a student named Marius, who is enchanted by Valjean’s adoptive daughter, Cosette. Li’s facial expressions, palpable physical grief, and exquisite vocal performance brought an unforgettable “rain” to the eyes of the audience in “On My Own.”

The show was tied up with the bright red bow of perfection thanks to the strength, commitment, and energy of the ensemble. A standout member was Krystal Molina, who shifted in and out of her various roles seamlessly, consistently drawing the eye and ear with magnificent vocal and acting prowess.

Though the occasional backstage “clunk” could be heard during some scene changes, the elaborate set pieces, advanced lighting projections, and near-flawless sound execution brought a professional-level quality to the show. From beneath the stage, the American Heritage Orchestra beautifully bolstered the cast, playing perfectly from opening to finale.

The performers at American Heritage breathed life into their nineteenth-century characters making them brand new on the twenty-first-century stage. Ever relevant to the human experience and the endless fight for love and liberty, American Heritage’s rendition of Les Misérables left a lasting impression of hope in the teary eyes of its observers, reminding the world that “even the darkest days will end and the sun will rise.”

*** *** ***

Reviews of West Side Story at Cypress Bay High School on Wednesday, 3/9/2022.


By Liana Genao of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

Hey Buddy Boy! Decide whether you’re with the Jets or the Sharks in Cypress Bay High School’s production of “West Side Story.” You’ll feel immersed in these character’s worlds as you discover the story of two star-crossed lovers.

As we travel to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, we discover the story of Stephen Sondheim’s retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”. Taking place in the mid-1950s, a rivalry takes place between two groups, The Jets, a white gang made up of boys from Irish, Poland, and Italian descent, and the Sharks, Puerto Ricans new to America. When two lovers from each gang try to make their love be, hatred is spread throughout both sides. Opening on Broadway on September 26, 1957, West Side Story performed 732 times. Later, this notorious story produced three different revivals and two movies.

Portraying the lovestruck Tony, Cristian Velasquez delivered breathtaking and romantic vocals with soothing crescandos and decresandos that any girl would want to hear outside her window.
Connor Lirio, portraying the “cool boy” Riff and leader of the Jets, displayed a consistent accent and deep chemistry with everyone he came across on the stage. Playing the fiery Anita, Gianna Schultz, gave an intense performance through her passionate vocals and notable chemistry with Maria (Miranda Ferreira) and Bernado (Jack Sussman). Gianna Gomez should be noted for her amazing moments in “America,” as she demanded attention from the audience with vibrant energy and strong characterization.

“There is good! There is good! There is untapped good!” Nothing less of superior came from the Jet Boys in “Gee, Officer Krupke.” With sharp movements and choreography, the boys didn’t miss a beat and left the audience at the edge of their seats.

Although at times, the ensemble lacked energy missing the buildup, great chemistry was displayed among many ensemble members. With very precise color palettes, the costumes of this production helped move the story along as you were able to distinguish a Shark from a Jet. Isa Saralegui and Miranda Ferreria did a seamless job of matching colors and story to each of these character’s costumes. With teachers in their show and flash mobs around their campus, the marketing and publicity team led by Nicole Borman, Alex Land, and Isa Saralegui, should be commended for their effective and creative work in promoting the show.

Cypress Bay High School tells the story of passion through love and hatred “tonight” in their production of West Side Story.

*** *** ***

By Sarah Abisror of Cooper City High School

Could it be? Yes, it could. Something’s coming, something good!” Cypress Bay High School must be commended for its outstanding production of “West Side Story.”

With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “West Side Story” opened on Broadway in 1957. Its lengthy run of 732 performances earned the show many accolades, including six Tony Award nominations. This timeless tragedy tells the story of Tony and Maria, who belong to rival gangs, and the deathly consequences that arise when they fall in love. Based on the Shakespearean classic, “Romeo and Juliet,” these two star-crossed lovers share a scandalous but powerful love that comes at a disastrous price.

Cristian Velasquez (Tony) displayed a wonderful commitment to his character. His control over his voice was evident, most notably in his stellar rendition of “Something’s Coming.” Alongside him, Miranda Ferreira (Maria) brought a charming sense of innocence and a sweet vocal quality to her performance. Velasquez and Ferreira worked well together onstage, expertly utilizing consistent characterization throughout the entirety of the show.

Demonstrating her astonishing acting abilities and exemplary talent in dance, Gianna Schultz (Anita) completely stole the show. Her versatility was clear, evidenced by her fantastic comedic timing in the first act and her devastatingly emotional scenes in the second act. Schultz had believable chemistry with Jack Sussman (Bernardo) making their scenes together quite delightful to watch.

The ensemble as a whole was incredibly talented. “Tonight” was a standout number that featured unique individual moments for each cast member. The Sharks, Jets, and the principals each showcased a great understanding of their motivations and brought an exorbitant amount of energy, making that number extremely enjoyable to watch. In particular, the members of the Jets had a clearly strong bond that translated effectively. Seeing their familial bond made it clear that they had each others’ backs “from womb to tomb.” Adrian Graff (Action) was hilarious as he skillfully commanded the stage during “Gee, Officer Krupke.”

The technical elements of “West Side Story” must be applauded. Bri Cordoves and Vicky Noble spectacularly utilized lighting to create tension and the illusion of violence during the fight scenes. This elevated the production and worked in their favor. Despite some issues with a lack of consistency regarding the Hair/Makeup department, as a whole, the cast looked cohesive and provided looks reminiscent of the period being portrayed.

As the dust settles and the gangs make peace, Cypress Bay High School’s amazing production of “West Side Story” has taught us that love knows no boundaries.

*** *** ***

By Bailey Vergara of American Heritage School

Sweeping ballads, upbeat dances, beautiful scenery, and a love story that stands the test of time – these are the key ingredients to the rich and evocative “West Side Story.” Cypress Bay High School’s production of this Sondheim classic was truly riveting, giving the audience a performance they wouldn’t forget.

Shakespeare’s classic tale of forbidden love, “Romeo and Juliet,” has been retold countless times in dozens of novels, films, and stage adaptations. However, none have held the same cultural impact as “West Side Story.” With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “West Side Story” is set in the 1950s in a New York City neighborhood with high racial tensions. The Jets, an American gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang, have been fighting for ages. However, when a former Jet falls in love with the sister of a Shark, the two gangs resort to violence, leading to broken hearts, bloodshed, and a shared feeling of grief.

To play the softhearted Tony, an actor must have a brilliant vocal range and tremendous stage presence. Luckily, Cristian Velasquez was able to bring the character to life with precision and control, his vocals blending beautifully with those of his co-star, Miranda Ferreira, who took on the role of Maria. Ferreira showcased her elegant vocal range, hitting the exceedingly difficult whistle tones the role requires and complementing Velasquez’s energy and vocality excellently. Tony’s friend and the leader of the Jets, Riff, was played expertly by Connor Lirio, who maintained Riff’s signature accent throughout the entirety of the show, giving a consistently good performance.

Gianna Schultz gave another standout performance as Anita, the lively girlfriend of Maria’s brother, Bernardo. Schultz used the show’s excellent choreography to her advantage, wowing the crowd during upbeat numbers like “America.” In addition to her excellent chemistry with both Maria and Bernardo, she was able to successfully carry the emotional weight of the second act with her stunning performance. The second act of the musical also brought another character into the spotlight: Action, a Jet, played by Adrian Graff. Songs like “Gee, Officer Krupke” brought Graff’s spectacular comedic timing and physicality to the forefront.

The ensemble perfectly captured two sides of a bitter rivalry. Though some actors lacked consistent accents and energy, both Jets and Sharks alike portrayed their characters with infectious dances and vocals. The technical elements of the show also deserve special recognition; the level of dedication and talent poured into the lighting, sets, costumes, and makeup were certainly noteworthy. The crew chose color palettes to represent both the Jets, who were mainly cast in blue, and Sharks, who wore red. Though the lighting was occasionally distracting, the colors were utilized well in all technical aspects of the show.

A brilliant production of “West Side Story” is always on the stage “Somewhere,” but Cypress Bay High School made this one a night to remember.

*** *** ***

By Lauren Kim of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Tonight, tonight, the infamous tale surrounding 1950’s New York all began tonight at Cypress Bay High School’s production of “West Side Story”.

Set in the harsh streets of New York’s upper West Side, this modern take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” follows the forbidden romance between Tony, a former member of the blue collared jets, and Maria, a hopeless romantic from Puerto Rico, as their relationship becomes increasingly threatened by the tense rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this classic production debuted at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1957 to rave reviews.

Playing the former leader of the jets, Cristian Velasquez executed a stunning performance as Tony. His powerful vocals combined with a captivating stage presence truly embodied Tony’s romantic, yet conflicted character. From when he first laid eyes on Maria in “The Dance at the Gym”, to his final appearance in the Finale, Velazquez truly captured the essence of Tony and his relationship with Maria. Played by Miranda Ferreira, Maria’s operatic vocals were well executed throughout every number she was in, whether she was falling head over heels with Tony in “Tonight”, or prancing around in “I Feel Pretty”, Ferreira portrayed the dainty, yet strong Maria through her vivid vocals and emotions.

With her exuberant physicality and strong stage presence, Gianna Schultz shined as Anita. From her first appearance in “America” to Bernardo’s tragic end, Schultz demonstrated a wide variety of emotions through both her strong facials and theatricality, all while maintaining a believable Hispanic accent.

On the other side of the turf, Action, played by Adrian Graff, proved that when you’re a jet, you’re a jet all the way. From leading the gang in “Gee Officer Krupke”, to just being actively involved in every scene he was in, Graff demonstrated well built relationships with every member of the cast, and commanded every moment of stage time he had with robust physicality.

Moving offstage, the marketing team, lead by Nicole Borman, did a phenomenal job in advertising the production. By creating an interactive Instagram account, designing flyers and shirts, and even staging a live flash mob in school, publicity must be commended for effectively marketing its show to the audience.

Another behind the scenes team that must be mentioned is the lighting crew, despite some technical inconsistencies. Lead by Bri Cordoves, the technical elements truly conveyed the division and emotion in every scene. Whether through flashing strobe lights in the Rumble, or by using colors to divide the Sharks and the Jets, Cordoves effectively supported each moment of the show with striking illuminations.

By bringing this classic modern love story to life both on and offstage, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “West Side Story” emotionally displayed that somewhere, there is a place for all of us.

*** *** ***

By Abigail Alder of North Broward Preparatory School

“Somehow, someday, somewhere,” lives a hope of coexistence amidst war. From encapsulating the beauty of love within a single name to the tragic consequences of hate, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “West Side Story” is emotionally charged entertainment.

Created by award-winning theatre legends, “West Side Story” continues to be relevant, revived and reimagined. Stephen Sondheim’s thoughtful lyrics with Leonard Bernstein’s distinct musical style conceived a haunting love story told through song. The synchronized large ensemble dance numbers resulted in musical magic and won a Tony Award for sublime choreography by Jerome Robbins. Since its 1957 Broadway debut, “West Side Story” has captivated audiences from the stage and screen.

William Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet,” inspired playwright Arthur Laurents to adapt the tale to twentieth-century New York City. Rival gangs, the American Jets, and the Puerto Rican Sharks battle over turf in a high-stakes brawl. Implacable enemies, Riff leading the Jets and Bernardo heading the Sharks, decide they can no longer coexist. They meet and define the terms of their upcoming violent rumble. Contentions between the gangs escalate when Bernardo’s younger sister (Maria) and Riff’s best friend (Tony) dance together at a social mixer. Maria and Tony’s newfound affection deepens despite the risk and surrounding disapproval. Although the couple tries to prevent their loved ones from engaging in the approaching danger, impulsive acts of violence and miscommunications lead to tragedy.

Cristian Velasquez (Tony) gave a conflicted and complex character earnestness. Emoting during his impressive soaring vocals, Velasquez added another layer to his charismatic yet soft-spoken approach to the role. His star-crossed lover, Miranda Ferreira (Maria), authentically became the naive ingenue forced to choose her loyalties. Throughout Act Two, particularly in the “Finale,” loss at its zenith, Ferreira mourned with an understanding of what makes the scene so heartbreaking and memorable.

Commanding the stage with palpable confidence, Connor Lirio (Riff) personified the gritty and aggressive Jets leader. He shared chemistry with all cast members and articulated a consistent, effective accent. Gianna Schultz (Anita) contributed excitement and sass. Schultz proved her vocal prowess in “A Boy Like That,” showcasing a masterful handle on her emotions. The ensemble’s commitment sometimes waned or drew unintended focus, but their energy held generally high. A notable standout was Adrian Graff (Action), whose liveliness and comedic perfection made “Gee, Officer Krupke” especially enjoyable.

In the set design, Conor Lirio took a creative and versatile approach to the changing New York locations in the scenes. The lighting effectively illustrated the divide between the two gangs but could distract from the action happening on the stage. The light designation feature worked well when Maria illuminated in red and Tony in blue. The costumes that were era appropriate worked well for their characters’ validity.

Whether choosing to stand with the Jets, the Sharks or “Somewhere” in the middle, Cypress Bay High School’s production of “West Side Story” stirs feelings over what it means to coexist and the frailty of humans believing they have nothing to lose.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Suessical at Cooper City High School on Saturday, 3/05/2022.


By Miles Levitan of American Heritage School

In the world of Dr. Seuss, “anything is possible!” This couldn’t be more true for Cooper City High School’s production of Seussical, where the impossible is achieved with (literal) flying colors. With a lively ensemble, magical vocals, and a tap-dancing cat, Seussical offers a touching, unforgettable message about loyalty and friendship.

Seussical is based on the iconic work of children’s author Dr. Seuss, primarily combining three of his famous stories: The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, and Gertrude McFuzz. With music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, Seussical is narrated by the free-spirited Cat in the Hat and focuses on Horton’s journey as he tries to save the tiny town of Whoville from certain doom.  After premiering on Broadway in 2000 and closing just a year later, Seussical went on to have two national tours and a West End production. While it is targeted towards a much younger demographic, Seussical has songs and themes that can be appreciated by audiences of all ages.

Leading the show is the unstoppable Elena Ashburn as the wise and wacky Cat in the Hat. Elena brings urgency to her performance as the Cat, always moving the story forward at a steady pace while keeping the audience engaged with hysterical commentary and impressive vocals. In addition to her full commitment to the character, Ashburn displays range and skill in her short yet impressive tap-dancing interludes. Never sacrificing character for comedy, Ashburn shines as the narrator to this whimsical story. Shining next to her is Emily Kaufman who portrays the charming and sympathetic Gertrude McFuzz. Not only is Kaufman’s characterization immaculate, but her vocals are consistently fabulous and elevate some of the show’s most memorable numbers like “For You”. Gracing the stage is Kris Olinsky and Sarah Abisror as Mr. and Mrs. Mayor. The pair showcase genuine performances that make them impossible not to root for.

The astounding cast appears on a stage that is flooded with color and light, reflecting the childlike wonder incorporated into every Dr. Suess illustration. The costume team has the talents of Rachel Weiss, Nirvani Badurasingh, Elliot Chirinos, and Zoey Deus, who are all to be commended for their fantastic work on each costume seen in the show. The student-made costumes do a tremendous job complementing the show’s themes and characters. Additionally, while some of the finer makeup details can be difficult to see under the constantly changing lights, the team on makeup and hair does a great job of highlighting most of the characters’ signature features.

Despite the minor technical issues involving microphones, the sound team keeps the show running smoothly with clever mixing and well-timed sound cues. The ensembles’ voices blend together beautifully which is undoubtedly thanks to the guidance of Emily Kaufman, who also serves as the musical director.

The talented cast shines bright as a star, attracting all audiences from near and from far. For music and laughs and a wonderful show, Cooper City High School is the place to go!

*** *** ***

By Elisabeth Chew of Calvary Christian Academy

Cooper City High will fill you with glee with the show they performed that everyone should see! Like a Who in Whoville, no role was too small, as a cat in a hat shouts, “Come, one and all!” In the year 2000, Seussical debuted, but unfortunately, critics eventually pooh-poohed. The worst financial flop Broadway’s ever had, oh boy 11 million, that’s pretty bad. There, there, Lynn Ahrens, no need to cry, as many high schools said, “We’ll give it a try!” And so on March fifth, the Cappies will write, “Cooper City’s Seussical was truly a sight.”

Starting off strong with the Cat in the Hat, Elena Ashburn got it down pat. From movement to expressions her performance was delightful, while the Sour Kangaroo seemed pretty spiteful. Towards Micheal Santinelli’s Horton the Elephant, Melina Lugo’s character was certainly not benevolent. While both actors had amazing voices, they also captured the audience with great character choices. Emily Kaufman played Gertrude McFuzz and her performance caused quite a buzz. With a beautiful voice and musical talent, she caused Horton to become pretty gallant. Whimsical dancing the Bird Girls provided, The whole cast and crew left the audience quite delighted.

When it comes to tech, a couple of Things I noticed, as one and two were most certainly a bonus. As they pranced across the stage, changing the set, Christina Caride was helping someone with a hairnet. On hair and makeup she was indeed, “Complementing colors,” she thought, “are just what we need.” So as costumes matched and the lights shone bright, the sparkles on stage were truly a sight.

Something that needed work, not to be rude, was the volume of voices, which at times were crude. A little loud that’s all, however, otherwise, the show really came together. The stage manager Savannah Schwantes made wonderful note, and now that it’s over, she can finally gloat. A great thing it is, everyone should know, that Seussical: The Musical was truly a great show.

*** *** ***

By Jennifer Moloney of J.P. Taravella High School

Flip to a page and let your imagination free
In a world of egg-laying elephants and Truffula Trees.
In the Who’s tiny town everything has gone wrong,
But in his search clover by clover, Horton remains strong.
At Cooper City High School, they took the stories from the page,
And “Seussical the Musical” comes to life on stage!

Derived from a rich history of celebrated children’s classics, Dr. Seuss’s legacy is passed down by playwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty in a combination of cherished characters from a variety of his works. When Horton the Elephant discovers a microscopic planet, he befriends the smallest Who with the largest imagination and finds a friend despite their differences. However, Horton must prove that a “person is a person no matter how small” before the cruel creatures of the jungle capture his clover and accuse him a criminal.

Elena Ashburn’s infectious energy and captivating stage presence were seen consistently throughout her portrayal as the nutty narrator the Cat in the Hat. Her larger-than-life expressive characterization was true to the frisky feline, never letting her energy falter through the production’s melancholy moments. Showing equal dedication and understanding of her character was Emily Kaufman as the timid and one-feathered-tail Gertrude McFuzz. Kaufman’s childlike animation accentuated an overall standout performance in a unique portrayal of a beloved bird.

Who enters the story now? Jojo! Giovanna Dellaria captured the stage with her sense of wonder and innocence. The imaginative wild child kept an engaging demeanor with bright eyes and berserk expressions. Manipulative and Amayzing Mayzie la Bird, portrayed powerfully by Marley Meany, takes Gertrude under her wing to become a bushy-tailed beauty. The dynamic display of her stellar vocal range worked in conjunction with the motivated acting choices of a busy bird on a spree!

From the deafening roars of the Jungle of Nool to the muffled murmurs of the citizens of Who, each ensemble member was a vital part of the synergy of Seuss. The entire cast united for a fierce ending, which granted the ensemble time to interact and connect with one another. The bird girls were a highlight, moving in unison while singing backup to Horton’s horrible happenings.

The outlandish world of Seuss would not have been fully realized without the work of the excellent technical elements seen on stage. The costuming, led by Rachel Weiss, helped differentiate between the jumbo jungle creatures and the minuscule Who’s. The pastel color scheme of the tiny townspeople unified them as an ensemble. The marvelous makeup design, by Christina Caride and team, paralleled the costumes, while allowing for the performer’s facial expressions to remain vivid and clear.

When endless “thinks” are lining up to get loose, you don’t need an excuse to open your mind let them run wild! Cooper City High School’s whimsical production of Seussical the Musical will leave you with one final question: “What happens next?” Well, what do you think?!

*** *** ***

By Emma Sugarman of J.P. Taravella High School

“Think and wonder and dream, far and wide as you dare” as we journey to magical places beyond compare. From the tiniest town to the Jungle of Nool, come see “Seussical the Musical” at Cooper City High School; because anything’s possible when you use your imagination, so grab a bucket of beezlenuts, relax, and enjoy this musical sensation.

With music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, this musical comedy has become a smash hit, even greater than the Circus McGurkus. Making its Broadway debut in 2000, “Seussical the Musical” is inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books. The story follows an empathetic elephant struggling to save an invisible village that lies on a speck of dust while the gentle giant also cares for an egg abandoned by its flighty mother. The family-friendly fantasy reminds audiences that with a little patience, resilience, and childish wonder, “anything’s possible.”

Portraying the mischievous Cat in the Hat, Elena Ashburn’s performance enlivened the well-known cartoon with her larger-than-life presence, hilarious antics, and infectiously fun charm. Ashburn showcased her beautiful voice accompanied by her phenomenal tap dancing while also enrapturing viewers as she rotated between comical personas. From her endearing “tweet” to her love-induced labor, Emily Kaufman remarkably embodied Gertrude McFuzz, the loyal next-door neighbor. Kaufman’s spectacular voice and impressive vocal control were complemented by her stellar characterization, energized physicality, and impeccable comedic timing.

Marley Meany’s performance as the carefree Mayzie La Bird was nothing short of “Amayzing.” Meany consistently delivered her charismatic showgirl facade complemented by her unwavering stamina. She displayed superb vocalization and elegant physicality. Mrs. Mayor, the loving mother, concerned with controlling her son’s “thinks,” was portrayed by Sarah Abisror. Abisror’s animated facials, exceptional vocal ability, and strong characterization created a captivating performance. Completing the duo of Whoville leaders, the expressive Kris Olinsky (Mr. Mayor) and Abisror displayed engaging chemistry.

The ensemble helped establish the fun, youthful atmosphere as their contagious joy of performing flooded the stage. Despite occasional falters in energy, the cohesive ensemble remained true to their various roles, from Whos, to jungle creatures, to mysterious hunches. The entire company incorporated humorously exaggerated movements, magnifying the playfulness of the Dr. Seuss stories. The trio of Bird Girls exhibited the advanced choreography with stellar grace and brilliant facials.

The technical aspects of the production lifted the world of Seuss right off the page. The colorful costumes were perfectly designed to reflect the unique imaginary characters while incorporating a modern and personified essence. The fun fictional creatures were also vitalized by the eye-catching hair and makeup. Any minor faults in sound and lighting cues were compensated for by the lively, cartoonish set.

Whether single feathered or bushy-tailed, Cooper City High School’s production of “Seussical the Musical” is enjoyable for all, reminding us that “a person’s a person no matter how small.”

*** *** ***

By Danny Landin of J.P. Taravella High School

Oh, the places we went through land, air, and sea, and the thinks that we thought, egg, nest, and tree! Cooper City High Schools production of “Seussical” whimsically brought together the wild stories of Dr.Seuss to remind us “A persons a person, no matter how small!” Horton, hunches, Whos, and kangaroos are all brought together for this Seussian spectacle!

“Seussical” opened on Broadway in 2000 with music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, respectively, and was followed by two successful US national tours and a West End production. It brings together scores of celebrated Seussian stories like “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” This youthful narrative follows Horton the elephant as he tries to convince the citizens of the jungle that there are tiny Whos living on a clover. With help from his next-door neighbor, Gertrude McFuzz, he can save the Whos despite the trials and tribulations they are facing on their own, including battles of butter and bountiful bathtubs!

The Cat in the Hat did laugh and cry and narrated the story with a twinkle in his eye. Elena Ashburn as Cat in the hat commanded the stage with astounding vocal technique and amazing chemistry with JoJo (Giovanna Dellaria). In the “Jungle of Nool,” Near the river Walloo, was Horton the elephant lumbering through. Embodied by Micheal Santinelli, Horton displayed many engaging acting moments and brought the attentive and calm energy the role called for. Emily Kaufman played Gertrude McFuzz, she squeaked, and she squawked and made quite a buzz. Her vocal control joined with her comedic timing made for a spectacular performance.

Through the tiniest tunnels and tiniest streets, were the mayors of Who with stunning acting beats! Mr. and Mrs. Mayor, portrayed by Kris Olinsky and Sarah Abisror, showed wholesome chemistry, and when they sent their son off to military school, we met with General Ghenghis Khan Schmitz (Christina Caride). Who stood out in Whoville with amazing comedy and wit.

The ensemble of “Seussical” displayed their many talents in numbers like “Solla Sollew” and “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think”. Although some cast members lacked diction, their boisterous energy made up for the loss of lyrics and lines. The three bird girls stood out of the crowd for holding their harmonies and their physical stunts.

The costume, makeup and hair were very commendable, with a show so bright and fun you must have looks that match the aesthetics of all the numbers. The makeup brought all that and more with beautiful flashes of color that were visible and stunning under the lights. Each character was well represented with their hair, and their personalities shined through their bright and fun costumes.

“Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see?” Cooper City High School’s production of “Seussical” made themselves heard, and especially seen.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Something Rotten at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday, 3/04/2022.


By Em Fontanet of J.P. Taravella High School

HUZZAH! And welcome to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s hysterical production of “Something Rotten!” You’ll surely be “crack”-ing up at this story of forbidden love, fame and fortune, and the fight against failure as two brothers struggle to find their place as playwrights in a Shakespeare-obsessed town.

With music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick and a book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick, “Something Rotten!” debuted on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 22, 2015. Running 742 performances and receiving 10 Tony award nominations, the show follows the two beloved Bottom brothers on their attempted journey to fame and fortune.

Portraying the headstrong and hungry-for-fame Nick Bottom,  David Prengler, demonstrated his commendable vocals through each sensational and show-stopping song. Prengler consistently upheld his energy throughout the performance while exhibiting incredible vocal inflections. His onstage partner in crime, Logan LaPierre, marvelously portrayed Prengler’s dreamy-eyed and co-dependent brother, Nigel. LaPierre displayed his outstanding vocal range throughout the production, particularly in the song “To Thine Own Self Be True”. Both actors showcased great chemistry together and with all onstage partners.

Playing the ceaselessly comical and captivating wife of Nick Bottom, Caroline Eaton portrayed Bea Bottom, and had a great stage presence. From breaking gender-norms to being your “Right Hand Man”, Eaton’s compassion and compelling vocals were far from “Something Rotten!”.

Admirably executing the greedy and genius soothsayer, Nostradamus, was Pearl Mass. Mass  brought “egg”-quisite comedic element and great understanding of her character to the show, all while maintaining immaculate facial expressions throughout.

Having consistent enthusiastic energy on stage, the ensemble of “Something Rotten” did an “eggs”-traordinary job staying unified through dance and holding impressive harmonies. Even when not the main focus of the scene, the audience could always see a considerable amount of effective stage business and ad-libbing behind the leads from this tremendous ensemble.

The technical elements of the show were nothing short of “Yolk”-tastic. From lightning having never missed a cue, to incredibly accurate time-period costumes, makeup, and props, this production team was surely one with “Will Power.” Not only was this show exceedingly precise with their actors’ physical appearance, but also the stage. The set design allowed for maximum movement while steadily being safe and stylish. The elite choreography was show stopping while including numerous styles of dance including a most impressive selection of tap from many of the performers. Despite minimal issues regarding mics and the blending of individuals, the entire crew did a phenomenal job showcasing their knowledge of this historical farce.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s captivating production of “Something rotten!” was nothing short of entertaining and engaging as it highlights the incredibly complicated process of following your dreams and letting your creativity flow!

*** *** ***

By Emma Flynn of South Plantation High School

Amature soothsayers, boiled cabbages, and metaphorical omelettes: welcome to the Renaissance! With a colorful ensemble cast and hilarious leading duo, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s production of “Something Rotten!” is anything but.

Written by John O’Farrell and Kary Kirkpatrick, “Something Rotten!” follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom as they struggle to find their footing in play-writing while shrinking under the looming shadow of Renaissance rockstar, William Shakespeare. When Nick pays a wishy-washy soothsayer to find out what Shakespeare’s next big hit will be, everything goes topside for the Bottom brothers as they endeavor to write the world’s first musical.

There is not enough praise to be showered on David Prengler and Logan LaPierre as Nick and Nigel Bottom, especially regarding the relationship they build together as the show progresses. Though each performed wonderfully in their own roles, it is when Prengler and LaPierre are together that the full depths of their talents truly shine. Prengler’s brotherly and goofy take on Nick Bottom blends seamlessly with LaPierre’s expressive and romantic Nigel, and behind every comedic beat, there lingers a deeper emotion that flawlessly comes to a climax during the crack in their relationship during the second act. In addition to their exceptional characterizations, both Prengler and LaPierre’s vocals were spectacular throughout, showcased best in Prengler’s knockout number “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top” and LaPierre’s beautiful “Nigel’s Theme.”

Behind every great man is an even greater woman, and Caroline Eaton as Bea Bottom is no exception to the rule. With killer vocals and a modern attitude, Eaton commands the stage in every scene she’s in, creating excellent chemistry with her stage-husband Prengler. Sarah Wyner as Portia also displayed an amazing dynamic with her own beau, LaPierre, showcasing their budding relationship in both a comedic and endearing way.

In addition to the named characters, “Something Rotten!’s” ensemble was nothing less than superb, carrying out difficult tap numbers and long-winded numbers without a move out of place. The vocal skill of the ensemble is also to be applauded, with complicated harmonies and crescendos executed beautifully and in tune with the live orchestra, no doubt thanks to Adriana Pena’s musical direction.

The technical elements of “Something Rotten!” were just as impressive as the players. Sarah Wyner’s choreography was particularly outstanding, and the small tidbits of historical dance implemented into modern moves were a wonderfully creative addition. Props done by Hannah Hackney and Christina Garofalo were also fantastic, with even the small elements accounted for, such as real food on the character’s forks as they ate. The tech crew’s attention to detail was just one of the factors that went into the production of a fabulous show.

“In puffy pants and pointed leather boots,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s production of “Something Rotten!” is overall a story about family and the unbreakable bond of brothers. But, most of all, about how we all just really, “really hate Shakespeare”.

*** *** ***

By Sophie Simon of American Heritage School

Exceptional vocals, impeccable acting, and a bit of tap dancing makes the perfect recipe for – an omelette? Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ production of “Something Rotten” proved that Renaissance theatrics are beyond “egg-cellent!”

With music and lyrics written by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, and a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, “Something Rotten” follows the Bottom brothers on their journey to Renaissance stardom as they attempt to overcome the loopholes of Shakespearean English. Despite their contrasting writing styles and the competitive world of primeval theatre, they discover the best way to create is “To Thine Own Self.”

Playing the fiery theatre troupe leader Nick Bottom, David Prengler commanded the stage, displaying his expert skill in various challenging numbers such as “A Musical” and “Make an Omelette.” Logan LaPierre, captivating the audience as the passionate Nigel Bottom, made hilarious choices that left the audience roaring. His chemistry with Prengler was moving and his vocals were absolutely breathtaking, specifically showcased in songs such as “I Love the Way.” Taking the role as Nick Bottom’s “Right Hand Man” was Caroline Eaton who displayed elegant vocal control and range throughout the show.

While major characters take center stage in the ancient arena, the featured actors and ensemble members in this production were far from “flat characters.” Nick Bedusa portrayed the role of Brother Jeremiah with commendable commitment and shocked the audience with his dance break in “We See the Light,” a number that showed off both the actors and technical crew in their prime. The entire cast and crew displayed their proficiency in group numbers, such as “Welcome to the Renaissance,” featuring Syndey Lotz (Minstrel) who drew the audience’s eye with her excellent stage presence and dance technique. The entire ensemble worked wonderfully together, projecting a vivid spectacle onto the stage.

This show incorporated an almost all student-run technical team and executed these elements masterfully. Stage manager Hannah Grinbank did not miss a single cue, allowing the show to run seamlessly and contributing to the poignant effect of all comedic bits. The lighting, run by Colin McLean, complimented the mood of each scene perfectly, setting a tone that brought vivacity to the theatre. Each character’s patent persona was defined by the hair and makeup team, consisting of Lucky Lopez, Carly Gaynor, and Angelina Accardi, allowing each person to shine in their respective roles. While there were a few minor issues with sound, these were dealt with quickly and the actor’s pitch and diction, instructed by musical director Adriana Peña, kept the show moving forward flawlessly. Most notably, Sarah Wyner choreographed the entire show, incorporating detail into the movements to ensure they match the songs lyrically.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s production of “Something Rotten” curated the perfect combination of “bright lights, stage fights, and a dazzling chorus.” This show confirmed that there is nothing more glorious than an old-fashioned musical, leaving the audience sunny side up!

*** *** ***

By Sam Flynn of Western High School

While “God I Hate Shakespeare” is not a phrase typically said by thespians and theater students alike, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ production of Something Rotten! last Friday night had audiences cheering for the phrase.

Something Rotten! is an original show with book by John O’Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick and music by brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Set in the Renaissance, Something Rotten! follows brothers Nick and Nigel bottom as they try to come up with an idea for and write the next hit show so that they can afford rent. After time closes in on them and their original ideas are not approved by patrons, Nick goes to a soothsayer (Nostradamus) to look into the future to see what Shakespeare’s most popular play will be. Unfortunately, Nancy incorrectly misinterprets Hamlet as Omelette and sees farther into the future about the popularity of musicals. Meanwhile, Nigel Bottom is falling in love with a puritan girl, Portia, who shares his love for poetry. When Portia’s father sends her away, Nigel writes a new play inspired by this heartbreak, but Nick is too stubborn about producing Omelette to listen to anyone else’s idea.

David Prengler perfectly encompassed the role of Nick Bottom in use of his sarcastic tone, vocal clarity, and strong dance skills. Logan LaPierre (Nigel Bottom) captivated the audience when stepping on stage and used strong character choices, making him stand out. When Nick and Nigel were both onstage, they never missed a beat in comedic timing and it was clear that they were close siblings who cared for one another.

Caroline Eaton played the role of Bea Bottom with confidence and did so disguised as different characters, each with unique character voice and no shame. Nostradamus (Pearl Mass) consistently brought laughter with her onstage appearances and perfect delivery of jokes that reference the modern world.

The featured character, Brother Jeremiah (Nick Bedusa) used comedic timing to his advantage and stuck out as a strong comedic character in this show. The ensemble maintained high energy levels, beautiful harmonies, and strong dancing throughout the show. A few characters struggled with some of their solo singing parts, but they still stuck with it and continued to play it off. There were points where characters could have used better diction so that audiences could understand what they were saying when using Renaissance terminology.

The technical aspects of this show elevated the performance of the cast, especially the lighting design, which was done by Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ light crew; it not only kept the actors looking good in the light, but added colors to create the tone of each scene (such as anger, love, sadness).  They even made light-up signs that said “Welcome to the Renaissance” and “Welcome to America” for the opening and closing numbers. There were some microphone issues, but the actors overcame them with projection and never missed a beat.

The choreography (Sarah Wyner) was well-practiced and very detailed and props (Hannah Hacuney and Christina Garofalo) were time period appropriate and perfectly fit for each scene’s needs. The set was completely student-built; Colin McLean’s design was simple, yet extremely effective in fitting the show’s needs.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ production of Something Rotten! was not “rotten” but extremely entertaining and they more than rose to the challenges that this 2 hour and 35-minute show with multiple large dance numbers, numerous props, and varying harmonies brought them.

*** *** ***

By Danny Landin of J.P. Taravella High School

Ladies and Gentlemen, Shylock Entertainment in association with Pilgrim Productions presents Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool’s production of “Something Rotten!”. From playwrights to Puritans, this sixteenth century adventure was a revolutionary testament to why you should stay true to yourself and never meet your heroes!

This musical comedy follows the bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, two storytellers searching for on-stage success! With music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, “Something Rotten” opened on Broadway April 22, 2015, and received ten Tony nominations. Throughout this Renaissance spectacle, the two brothers deal with the heartaches of love, the hardships of creativity, and the shenanigans of Shakespeare!

Nick Bottom, embodied by David Pringler, clearly and completely controlled the stage with his dynamic facial expressions and captivating characterizations. His chemistry with each of the other characters made his performance lively. The younger bottom, Nigel, was egg-quisitely characterized by Logan LaPierre. His vocal tone and range highlighted his performance.

The Bottom brothers “Right Hand Man” was played by Caroline Eaton, who perfectly portrayed Bea Bottom’s righteous and devoted demeanor. Altogether, the acting choices and vocal quality of Eaton’s performance were Egg-celent and extremely impressive.

Portia, the surprisingly poetic puritan, was played by Sarah Wyner with a multitude of religiously comedic moments and a naïve and wholesome connection to her love interest, Nigil Bottom.

The ensemble of the production never allowed a dull moment on-stage. Their high energy was unwavering and a spectacle all on its own. The astounding harmonies and dance numbers exceptionally developed the atmosphere and stage picture. Sydney Lotz stood out as a phenomenal dancer with high energy and unmatched facial expressions.

The tech elements of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool’s production of “Something Rotten!” were revolutionary, and the choreography, done by Sarah Wyner, thoroughly encapsulated what all the different numbers called for: a perfect balance of modern moves and sixteenth century flare! Another aspect of the musical that put the “bottoms on top” was the lighting! At every point in the show the lighting themes matched mood and tone, and the cues were executed with perfect timing.

Good morrow, and fare thee well townsfolk! Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School’s production of omelet, no, Henry II, no, “Something Rotten!” demonstrates When life gives you eggs, you must make an omelet!

*** *** ***

Reviews of 57th National Mathlete Sum-It at David Monarch High School on Saturday, 2/05/2022.


By Levi Cole of NSU University School

The whole is more than the sum of its parts in Monarch High School’s production of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It”.

With book by Laura Stratford, music by David Kornfeld and lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser, “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” follows the (almost) all girl math team from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and their struggles with competing in high stakes math tournaments, overcoming stage fright, and most of all, navigating the pressures of high school. The musical was developed by CPA Theatricals and was first performed at the New York Musical Theater Festival.

Mariana Montoya, starring as captain of the Numbers Nerds, Melissa, showcased her impressive vocal quality throughout the production. In solo and in group numbers, Montoya’s voice shined. Additionally, Montoya successfully demonstrated her character’s ambitious nature and her chemistry with Caitlyn Lopez was amazing to watch.

As strong and independent Mary Kate, Isabella Le Sante excellently portrayed her character. Le Sante showed off her commendable vocals as well. Tommaso Randis fabulously portrayed lovable dork Leroy. His consistently over-the-top acting, goofy physicality, and comedic timing provided many of the funniest moments in the production. Together Le Sante and Randis possessed a fantastic chemistry onstage, most notably showcased in their duet “Outliers”. As drama teacher Ms. McGery, Caitlyn Lopez successfully depicted her character’s theatrical personality. Her stage presence and comedic timing boosted the production tremendously. Jayden James believably portrayed mean girl Amber. Through her characterization, laudable vocal quality, and physicality, James’ character felt like a realistic and complex high school bully. As fantasy fanatic Bobbie, Bailey Perkins brought their wonderful energy and vocal quality to the stage.

Despite a few early dips in energy, the cast worked well together. Each actor developed unique and realistic relationship dynamics with one another. Although there were some sound issues early on, the actors were able to keep their composure and provided the fun environment the musical calls for, most notably shown in the numbers “In Defense of Math” and “Finale Ultimo”.

The largely student led technical components of this production helped create a colorful and vibrant atmosphere for the audience. The minimal yet effective set and the multicolored lights fit the theme of the production. Isabelle Brown, Noah Miller and the costume team did a great job of differentiating and defining characters based on their attire. The stage crew is also to be commended, as the transitions between scenes were smooth and efficient, not allowing any transition to drag.

Monarch High School’s production of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” told the wonderful story of a group of high school “Outliers”.

*** *** ***

By Savannah Schwantes of Cooper City High School

Monarch High School’s genius production of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” provides a gifted tale of the almost all-girl team of mathletes as they must solve much more than just the arithmetic problems they are handed. Their brilliant rendition of the mathematical musical taught us that we are much more than “what is on the other side of the equal sign.”

“57th National Mathlete Sum-It” premiered in 2017 at the New York Musical Festival, with a book by Laura Stratford, music by David Kornfeld and lyrics by Alex Higgin Houser. The show tells the story of the Number Nerds, a team of mathletes from Waukesha, Wisconsin as they face the impending national math competition. “The Pressure is On” as the students must balance perhaps the most complicated equation: their numerical success and fate of their friendships.

Embodying “the girl who leaves Einstein in the dust,” was Mariana Montoya as Melissa. Montoya expressed the perfect sum of passion and talent through her shining vocal quality and evident character commitment. Although the show focused on math, there was clear chemistry between Montoya and Caitlyn Lopez, who portrayed the former drama teacher, Ms. McGery. The duo shared heartfelt moments as they solved Melissa’s stage fright in preparation for the national competition.

With an a-dork-able connection and exponential energy, Tommaso Randis and Isabella Le Sante added to the production in their roles of Leroy and Mary Kate, respectively. In their duet number, “Outliers,” the pair showcased their newfound and innocent romance. Manifesting the typical high school mean girl was Jayden James as Amber. Just as math is constant and reliable, so was James’s admirable supply of commitment to her character throughout the duration of the show.

The academic ensemble of Number Nerds calculated the perfect equation for success with their individuality and impressive execution of harmonies. At times, there was hesitance in the motivation of some characters, however the second act did not disappoint as the cast supplied genuine enthusiasm and authentic energy.

Multiplying the caliber of the show were the technical factors. The simplistic, yet efficient set allowed for smooth transitions between scenes and eye-catching projections by Catherine Pang aided in setting the multitude of locations. While the lighting was at times distracting when moving, it helped in establishing the appropriate mood. The marketing and publicity team should be commended for their creative methods of promoting the production on both social media platforms and within their community.

While not all problems can be solved with linear algebra, Monarch High School’s production of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” provided feel-good moments as the students defined what it meant to be a Number Nerd. The solution was in the end, far more exciting than a calculator sale.

*** *** ***

By Kelly Goenaga of Calvary Christian Academy

Step out of your math class and into Monarch High School’s theater to witness the brilliance that is their production of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” as it turns you into a #numbersnerd!

With music by David Kornfeld and lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser in addition to a brilliant story from the mind of Larry Little, “57th National Mathlete Sum-It: the Almost All-Girl Math Musical,” premiered in 2017 at the New York Musical Festival Off-Broadway, under its original title, “NUMBERS NERDS.” The show follows young mathematician Melissa, whose stage fright causes her all-girls math team to win the regional competition, only by default. As her former teammates set out to find a new member, Melissa searches for the answer to win them back. When someone new is added to the equation, the team must put their brains together if they want to come out on top, for first place and each other.

As aspiring mathematician and team captain Melissa, Mariana Montoya took the stage with absolute-value confidence in her quirky character, depicted in her powerful solos. Demonstrating astounding vocal ability and clear character development throughout. the entire show, Montoya made standing out look as easy as pi.

For shizzle, the same can be said for Tommaso Randis as the eager foreign teammate, Leroy. Randis embodied his lovable role with commendable physicality and facial expressions that were “all that and a bag of Cheetos.” Randis plus his comedic timing equaled a dynamic, consistent character throughout his authentic performance. Isabella Le Sante as the beautifully shy love interest of Leroy, Mary Kate, had consistent chemistry with several actors, notably with Randis in the unforgettable, show-stopping song, “Outliers.”

Jayden James equivalently showed consistency portraying the serious and sassy, Amber, with a vulnerability that distinguished her role from the everyday popular girl. As Bobbie, Bailey Perkins increasingly exhibited character growth and they did so with a whimsical spirit. The team would not be complete without the teacher, turned chaperone extraordinaire, Caitlyn Lopez as Ms. McGery. Lopez delighted the audience with her humorous physicality and comical, one-of-a-kind character.

Although some actors missed the mark with diction, pronunciation, and understandable character progression, the entire cast aced their performance as a unit, keeping their individuality while combining “like terms” as an ensemble. Singularly, the solid, persistent harmonies demonstrated the vocal and overall tremendous strength of the team. Factors contributing to the distinctiveness and dynamics of the actors together were the intelligent choices made by the costume and hair and makeup crews. The individual looks of the characters complemented each other while simultaneously fitting their contrasting personalities. On the same plane, the marketing and publicity team drew audiences to performances with interactive challenges and regular updates on the show process. With colorful set and lighting design to undeniably creative direction mixed in, the technical elements multiplied the show’s impact.

“In defense of math,” Monarch High School’s production “proofs” the power of math, and friendship, can elevate the triumphs and overcome the struggles of high school against all odds.

*** *** ***

By Christina Caride of Cooper City High School

“The Pressure is On” at Monarch High School’s production of the “57th National Mathlete Sum-It!” Filled with high school hierarchies, first crushes, and algebraic arguments, the musical follows Waukesha’s mathematical matriarchy and their journey in balancing logistics and self-identity.

With book by Laura Stratford and music by David Kornfeld and lyrics by Alex Higgin-Houser, “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” debuted Off-Broadway at the New York Musical Festival in 2017. The show follows the Number Nerds, a group of five algebraic academics and their time spent dedicated to a national mathematical competition. As the ever-growing need for theorems comes closer, the inequalities between the friends’ priorities emerge and sustain the idea that some problems can’t be solved numerically.

Portraying the modern-day Einstein herself, Melissa, was Mariana Montoya. Paired with impressive vocal quality and a champion mindset, Montoya shows us that even the greats had bad hair days. Witty character development and acting choices provided this math wiz with distinguishable stage presence and a clear passion for the quantitative universal language.

Tommaso Randis, portraying the loveable Leroy, proved that the limit does not exist when it comes to consistent energy. Randis demonstrated that his strong suit was not restricted to mathematics, as the chemistry between him and Isabella Le Sante, playing the former catholic school girl Mary Kate, was exponentially engaging. This deductive duo’s attention to comedic timing was most notably seen in their amicable, yet awkward duet, “Outliers.”

The Number Nerds as an ensemble demonstrated stellar harmonies from the beginning of the show in “This Is Gonna Be My Year.” Although occasionally lacking in diction and energy, the cast as a whole brought about development in both engagement and character consistency as the show progressed.

Providing help in sending the cast to nationals, the marketing and publicity team designed clever ways in promoting the show, such as creative photo submissions. Using geometry to their advantage, the set included blocks that aided in the creation of different locations throughout the story when arranged during smooth scenic transitions. Additionally, Catherine Pang presented further dynamic usage of the set’s minimalism in her addition of periodic projections.

With aid from some rotational relativity and linear algebra, Monarch High School’s cast and crew of “57th National Mathlete Sum-It” provided us with a “Finale Ultimo,” and taught us that while individual growth may not always be linear, it’s worth the final product.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Mamma Mia! at David Posnack Jewish Day School on Wednesday, 1/26/2022.


By Sarah Wyner of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Grab your passport, head over to the mystical Greek island of Kalokairi, and be prepared to release your inner “Dancing Queen” at David Posnack Jewish Day School’s entertaining production of “Mamma Mia!”

Based on the hit songs of Swedish pop group ABBA by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, “Mamma Mia” danced its way to Broadway in October 2001 after originally premiering in London’s West End in 1999. Following the moments leading up to her wedding, twenty-year-old Sophie Sheridan realizes that a huge piece of her life will be missing: her father. After discovering her mother’s old diary, Sophie secretly invites three promising men in hopes of uncovering the truth about her past and fulfilling her dream of being walked down the aisle by her dad.

Portraying the fierce former lead singer of “Donna and the Dynamos,” Donna, was Lillian Milgram. Milgram led the production with compelling characterization and showcased standout vocals in her powerful solo, “The Winner Takes It All.” Her ability to establish a distinct relationship with each principal character was evident throughout the production, most notably with her daughter Sophie, played by Deborah Cusnir. Cusnir, as the headstrong and lovable Sophie, demonstrated prevalent energy and impressive vocal ability throughout her stage time.

Lindsey Wildstein embodied Rosie, the fun-loving best friend and former bandmate to Donna and Tonya (Whitney Wildstein). Commanding the stage in their whimsical role, Lindsey Wildstein uplifted the production with their expressive physicality and brilliant comedic timing. As Tonya, Whitney Wildstein displayed a strong understanding of character through her excellent line delivery and humorous vocal inflection; the two had undeniable chemistry throughout the production. Playing Bill, Jason Drucker did a wonderful job staying true to his character with an animated personality and unwavering energy.

Although occasionally lacking in energy and charisma, the ensemble of “Mamma Mia!” did a great job engaging in each scene to establish a realistic environment. Most memorably, the Donna and the Dynamos ensemble (Donna, Rosie, and Tonya), depicted by Lillian Milgram, Lindsey Wildstein, and Whitney Wildstein, respectively, showcased high energy, compelling vocals, and an organic bond throughout the entirety of the production. The marketing and publicity team did an outstanding job advertising the show through cleverly crafted social media takeovers, countdowns, and exciting behind-the-scenes photos of the rehearsal process.

As the trip comes to an end and the past and present are reconciled, David Posnack Jewish Day School’s glittering production of “Mamma Mia!” reminds us all of one thing: discover who you truly are, make mistakes, and “Take a Chance” on your dreams.

*** *** ***

By Sarah Abisror of Cooper City High School

“Without a song or a dance, what are we?” David Posnack Jewish Day School’s fantastic performance of “Mamma Mia!” taught us the importance of family and being there for one another.

With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, “Mamma Mia!” premiered on Broadway in 2001 and ran for fourteen years. Their record-breaking run earned them many accolades including five Tony Award nominations. This jukebox musical tells the story of Donna Sheridan as she deals with the repercussions of her actions. It’s the weekend of her daughter Sophie’s wedding and unbeknownst to her, Sophie has invited each of her three possible fathers in hopes of finding her dad, and herself in the process. Donna must reveal her past to her friends and keep her former suitors far away before they ruin her daughter’s big day.

Lillian Milgram (Donna) delivered breathtaking vocals and a deep understanding of her character. Her show stopping number  “The Winner Takes It All” was filled with evident passion. She differentiated her complex relationships with each character excellently and gave each its own unique feel. Deborah Cusnir (Sophie) was the perfect counterpart to her onstage mother. Cusnir displayed a sweet sense of innocence and expertly conveyed every emotion that her character felt. A truly beautiful moment in the show came when the two sang their heartwarming duet, “Slipping Through My Fingers.”

Lindsey Wildstein (Rosie) stole the show with their incredible comedic timing. The energy and charisma they brought to their character was nothing short of astonishing. They also had adorable chemistry with Jason Drucker (Bill) as showcased in their hilarious duet “Take A Chance On Me.” Whitney Wildstein (Tanya) impressively commanded the stage. Both actors demonstrated commitment to their respective characters and worked well together onstage, making this duo an absolute joy to watch.

The ensemble as a whole demonstrated extreme talent. A particularly strong ensemble number was “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.” Everyone’s individual personality and motivations came through, making for a captivating scene. Although there was a lack of energy towards the beginning at times, this was quickly rectified, allowing for a delightful second act.

The technical elements of this production worked to their advantage. First and foremost, Shira Garber must be commended for her work as student stage manager. Her hard work and dedication was clear and admirable. The hair/make-up department, headed by Liana Marks, did a spectacular job at showing the age gap between the older and younger characters.

David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Mamma Mia!” was a fun and wonderfully-executed show. They encapsulated the spirit of musical theatre and left audiences saying “Thank You for the Music.”

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By Savannah Schwantes of Cooper City High School

“Shining like the sun,” was David Posnack Jewish Day School’s dazzling production of “Mamma Mia!” Audiences were taken on a wild ride as they delivered a brilliant blend of heartwarming to hilarious moments, complete with lively numbers, allowing us to all channel our own “Dancing Queen!”

The record-breaking jukebox musical, “Mamma Mia!” was penned by Catherine Johnson and features songs from Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson of the beloved Swedish pop band, ABBA. The show focuses on Sophie Sheridan as she is determined to find out who her father is in time for her wedding. After reading through her mother’s flirtatious diary entries from her younger days, Sophie invites three potential fathers to her wedding, in secrecy from her mother. Chaos ensues, romances are rekindled, and while Sophie may not have found who her biological father was, she finds much more within herself.

With genuine devotion and a voice shining brighter than the jumpsuits of the Dynamos was Lillian Milgram as Donna, the Sheridan matriarch. Milgram proved her character commitment, as she expertly balanced comedic and emotional scenes. Her sensational vocals were exhibited in her compelling rendition of “The Winner Takes It All.” Authentic chemistry was felt between Milgram and her onstage counterparts, whether it be Aiden Portal as Sam, her long-lost love interest, or Deborah Cusnir as her daughter Sophie. Milgram and Cusnir’s onstage connection was beautifully translated to audiences in their tender performance of “Slipping Through My Fingers.”

Captivating the audiences with their comedic expertise and individuality were Donna’s dynamo best friends. As Rosie, Lindsey Wildstein employed vibrant physicality and skillful comedic timing, making for hysterical interactions. A priceless execution of “Take A Chance On Me,” was amongst these moments. Wildstein and Jason Drucker as Bill, bounced off of each other as they showcased their humorous and seemingly newfound infatuation with one another. The rich divorcee Tanya, was brought to life by Whitney Wildstein. She stayed committed to her character and brilliantly utilized a comical character voice to bring her sassy character to life.

The charismatic performance would not be complete without the engaging energy from the ensemble of Greek islanders. A standout amongst the ensemble was Michelle Berkovich. Her unfaltering spirit and mastery of choreography tied the group of dancers together. Some intended harmonies were not executed, yet the ensemble persisted with steady energy and enjoyment in all that they did.

The technical components of the show aided in creating an authentic atmosphere and allowing for a smooth show. Shira Garber must be commended for her impeccable calling of cues as stage manager. Colored lighting helped in setting the mood of the show, yet at times moving lights became somewhat distracting. The publicity team creatively made use of social media to promote their show. From cast interviews to eye-catching countdowns, the team ensured that their show received plentiful marketing.

The “Super Troupers” have been found, and they are the passionate and dynamic students as they “do what makes their soul shine.”

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By Levi Cole of NSU University School

Destination wedding, catchy tunes, and campy comedy — recipe for fun at David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Mamma Mia!”

With book by Catherine Johnson and music by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, “Mamma Mia!” is a jukebox musical featuring many well-known ABBA hits. “Mamma Mia!” debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in October 2001 and is the ninth longest-running show in Broadway history. On a small island in Greece, as characters Sophie and her mother Donna prepare for Sophie’s wedding, Sophie secretly searches for her birth father. With her search narrowed down to three possibilities, she decides to invite all three potential fathers to the wedding without her mother’s knowledge.

As bride-to-be, Sophie, Deborah Cusnir showed off her commendable vocals. Cusnir developed unique and believable relationships with each of the characters onstage. Lillian Milgram excellently portrayed Sophie’s fierce and independent mother, Donna. The two leading ladies had great chemistry onstage. Milgram showcased her impressive vocal skills throughout the production, most notably in “The Winner Takes It All” and the duet “SOS,” where Aiden Portal portraying Sam also demonstrated his strong vocal ability.

Jason Drucker possessed a wonderful stage presence as world-adventurer Bill. His comedic timing and character commitment boosted the production tremendously. As free-spirited Rosie, Lindsey Wildstein demonstrated fantastic comedic timing and powerful stage presence. Both of their talents were at their peak in their hilarious duet “Take A Chance on Me”. As former party animal Harry, Max Bernstein showed endless energy and character commitment, providing much of the comic relief in the musical. When on stage together Bernstein, Drucker, and Portal possessed an enjoyable comedic dynamic. Whitney Wildstein laudably portrayed sexy sophisticate Tanya, most notably in her number “Does Your Mother Know”.

The production’s ensemble brought a commendable energy to the stage. Despite occasional moments where vocals were inconsistent, overall, the ensemble performed well, maintained charisma and enthusiasm, and provided the fun and groovy atmosphere for which “Mamma Mia!” is known.

The technical elements of this production were effective. Despite some distracting sound and lighting issues, the technical components aided in telling this story and enhanced the atmosphere of the musical. The publicity team is also to be commended, as their social media campaigns were creative and effectively boosted the hype for this production.

David Posnack Jewish Day School’s groovy production of “Mamma Mia!” successfully provided a fun and entertaining experience for the audience.

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By Maddie Musso of NSU University School

Welcome to the stunning white sandy beaches of Greece, where both the glimmering crystal-clear waters and dedicated performers “shine like the sun” in David Posnack Jewish Day School’s entertaining rendition of “Mamma Mia!”

With a score consisting of top-charting tunes from the Swedish music group ABBA, this jukebox musical is filled with dynamic movement, high-energy dance numbers, and unforgettable comedic moments. Sophie has spent the past 20 years without knowing who her biological father is. In the hopes that he will give her away on her upcoming wedding day, she invites her three potential fathers whom she discovered in her mother’s journal. Sophie must deal with the havoc she has caused just a day before she plans to marry the love of her life, Sky.

Portraying the young and strong-willed Sophie, Deborah Cusnir impressed the audience with her unwavering devotion to the role and beautiful vocals. She specifically demonstrated this in her solo “I Have A Dream”. Cusnir did an outstanding job embodying the character’s fun-loving and optimistic spirit through the duration of the show, and consistently carried large ensemble numbers with her smooth voice and fluid dancing. Playing Sophie’s fiery and free-spirited mother, Donna, Lillian Milgram commanded the stage in every scene, and wowed the audience with her breathtaking emotional ballad, “The Winner Takes It All”. The strength and passion exhibited through Milgram’s acting was worthy of recognition. Along with the leading ladies, a breakout performance executed by Jason Drucker (Bill) delivered quick-witted humor and an affable character. The chemistry created between Drucker and Lindsey Wildstein (Rosie), best showcased in the uproarious song “Take A Chance On Me,” displaye
d the actors’ physicality with each other and their overall talent.

Bringing this musical to life, the lively ensemble saturated the stage with excitement and energy through every number. Although the numbers were filled with enthusiasm, the cast often lacked cohesion which left the audience distracted and dampened the visual experience. As for the technical aspects of the show, the hair and makeup, designed by Liana Marks, created a visual representation of the show’s timeline with frequent hair modifications for both Donna and Sophie. With it being Shira Garber’s first time executing the job of stage manager, the show ran relatively smoothly with minor technical difficulties. Some transitions were drawn out and left the pace feeling choppy, but the cast did a wonderful job adapting.

The cast and crew of “Mamma Mia!” created a dynamic and entertaining performance that left the audience humming tunes and feeling like a “Dancing Queen” long after the curtains closed.

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Reviews of Spongebob the Musical at Dillard Center for the Arts on Saturday, 12/04/2021.


By Ashley Goehmann of Archbishop McCarthy High School

Are you ready audience? He can’t hear you– Oh Dillard Center for the Arts’ take on “SpongeBob the Musical” was an argh-ubly good time! A show of the destruction and growth, of not only the the town of Bikini Bottom, but relationships along the way.

SpongeBob SquarePants SpongeBob SquarePants Sponge-Bob Square-Pants was a character created by, artist and marine science educator, Stephen Hillenburg as an attempt for Hillenburg’s unpublished educational book “The Intertidal Zone.” Sparking into a Nickelodeon show in 1999, and later spawning into two movies “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” and “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”. On June 7th, 2016 Kyle Jarrow, a writer and rock musician, published what was soon to be the hit Broadway production “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical”. Taking on through the story of an ever-optimistic yellow sea sponge and his close knit community. When all is well, until it’s discovered that Mount Humongous, a nearby volcano, is said to erupt and destroy their beloved town by the next sundown. The community’s uproar causes them to implode themselves leaving only a spectacular sponge, a stubborn starfish, and a southern squirrel to save them all.

Two hours later. Trey’lon Salley (SpongeBob SquarePants) did a phenomenal job commanding the stage, with his grandiose physicality and strong vocals, anytime he was present. Especially alongside his counterpart and BFF Jaire St. Ange (Patrick Star). This was exemplified during their growth in relationship and trust of one another from “BFF” to “(I Guess I) Miss You”. On the other hand with their antagonists, Jahmal Hanna (Plankton) and Mikala Phillips (Karen), true connection was wonderfully shown throughout the entirety of the production. From the progression of their characters attraction to each other followed by a wonderfully comedic split after their plans were soiled, showing how the pair managed to portray this unstable yet loving bond. Now with LaMacia Lewis, Mikala Phillips, Madison Fraser, Christopher Rosario, Sasha Labossiere, Sydney Johnson, Maryangely Rodriguez, Naomi Joseph, and Jailah Butler (The Sardines) managed for whatever bit of time they had to completely
‘seas’ the stage. From their stellar performance in “Super Sea Star Savior” to their high energy choreography throughout the show, they never failed to leave a dull moment.

One eternity later. Aside from a few lost lines due to technical errors, the production’s phenomenal sound and lighting cues brought everything together beautifully. With their use of specific light colors, like the pinks and yellows during “BFF”, helped to represent the union of characters along the way. Following up with the costuming perfectly displaying each character in a modernized way, helping to further covey their timeline.

The credits roll across the screen putting an end to this beautiful “Bikini Bottom Day”. With its ‘eye-patch’ of great performers, Dillard Center for the Arts’ take on “SpongeBob the Musical” is a show ‘yo-ho-ho’ really got to sea!

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By Ava Chen of J.P. Taravella High School

“When the Going Gets Tough”, what else can be done but to have the “Best Day Ever” with a bright pink sea star and yellow sponge? Dillard Center for the Arts’ performance of “SpongeBob the Musical” made us “sea” the importance of appreciating those who are right there next to us, sharing a fun story with our favorite childhood cartoon characters “tide” up in problems dealing with crisis, community, and existence.

Based on the Nickelodeon animated television series of the same name, this show debuted on Broadway in December 2017 at the Palace Theatre. The book was written by Kyle Jarrow, along with the Music and lyrics being written by various artists. Down in Bikini Bottom, we follow an optimistic yellow sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants, and his friends as their city goes under a state of panic as a nearby volcano, Mt. Humongous, is soon to erupt.

Portraying the animated, buoyant sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants, was Trey’lon Salley. Salley had a compelling performance through his strong understanding of his character with there being no dip in his energy. He held constant vocalization and physicality to depict this iconic childhood cartoon character. He maintained good chemistry with his “BFF”, Patrick Star played by Jaire St. Ange. This “Sea Star Savior” glided through his vocals swimmingly with his steady vocal capability. He translated good physicality to convey this laidback, lazy pink character from the tv screen to on a stage.

Jahmal Hanna steps into the story as the evil, microscopic organism, Plankton. Hanna accentuated the show with his astounding comedic timing and character commitment. Playing alongside him as his computerized wife, Karen, Mikala Phillips commanded the stage with her strong presence. Both showed strong chemistry through their developed understanding of the characters’ relationship, translating clearly on stage. Phillips executed the choreography nicely with her advanced dancing and humourous characterization.

The ensemble was off-the-hook in their ability to maintain ample energy and work with one another as a unit. They showcased their higher level in dance capability with great execution of the choreography. Although vocals wavered, they had great engagement and involvement in the show, carrying out the essence of this vibrant world under water.

The technical aspects in “SpongeBob the Musical” helped develop the show excellently. The costumes in specific accentuated the characters, bringing the animated cartoon to life with a “splash” of color. The costumes had a modern touch to them but still kept the essence of the original character. At times the makeup was inconsistent from actor to actor, but the hair was done nicely to represent the characters and fit the actors.

From spending the day alongside Spongebob and his friends, Dillard Center for the Arts’ production of “SpongeBob the Musical” depicted the vibrant television animated series upon the shore of the stage in their vibrant expression and immaculate unity with not one cast member being “(Just a) Simple Sponge.

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By Naomi Sternberg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Are you ready kids? I can’t hear you! Everyone’s favorite sea sponge is live on the stage and he’s ready, he’s ready, he’s ready! Dillard Center of the Arts’ “Spongebob the Musical” was animated, enthusiastic, and brought a highly entertaining bout of childhood nostalgia.

“Spongebob the Musical,” inspired by the SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon series, follows the residents of the world’s favorite underwater town, Bikini Bottom. The long-slumbering Mt. Humongous is threatening to erupt and destroy the town with it, and it’s up to SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick to save the day. The musical was written by Kyle Jarrow and produced by Nickelodeon, and features songs from a multitude of artists, including David Bowie, Panic! at the Disco, Sara Bareilles, and more.

Playing the big hero of the show, SpongeBob Squarepants, was Trey’lon Salley. Salley displayed an exquisite understanding of his character, as evident in both his amazing physicality and incredible characterization. Salley’s ability to translate such a cartoonish character onto the stage was impressive, especially for how energetic SpongeBob is. Salley impressively maintained his energy for the entirety of the show, even throughout performing multiple stunts and weaving throughout the set during “(Just a) Simple Sponge (Reprise)”. As SpongeBob’s dopey best friend Patrick Star, Jaire St. Ange also displayed marvelous physicality and understanding of his character. St. Ange exhibited surprisingly good vocals, especially in his harmonization with Salley during “BFF” and “(I Guess I) Miss You”. St. Ange’s and Salley’s chemistry was entertaining and both actors matched each other’s energy throughout the show. Salley also had amazing chemistry with Sandy Cheeks (Jasmine Lane) that
progressed well during the second act.

Similarly, Jahmal Hanna as Plankton and Mikala Phillips as Karen were amazing both as their own characters and as a couple. Hanna and Phillips brought a lot of comedy in their interactions with each other that ended up being some of the best moments of the show. Another standout character was Madison Fraser as Pearl Krabs. Fraser’s vocal ability during “Daddy Knows Best” was nothing but astonishing.

The ensemble was a huge part of what made the show so amazing. Everyone had consistent energy throughout the show and had incredible physicality. Everyone had great comedic timing and matched the high difficulty of the choreography. Although there were consistent diction problems, other that that the ensemble was both entertaining and engaging to watch.

Dillard Center of the Arts’ “Spongebob the Musical” was unbelievably wonderful, and the cast incredibly translated such a high-energy cartoon onto the stage. And for those “Poor Pirates” who just wanted to see their favorite sponge, this performance was a great showing of SpongeBob in action.

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By Sarah Abisror of Cooper City High School

It’s a beautiful “Bikini Bottom Day” as Dillard Center For the Arts puts on their fantastic production of “The Spongebob Musical.” This heartwarming tale teaches us the power of friendship and what it means to be a hero.

Based on the hit television show, “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “The Spongebob Musical” opened on Broadway in December 2017. Its book is written by Kyle Jarrow and many famous artists are credited for its music and lyrics including David Bowie and Sara Bareilles. It acquired numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical. This musical comedy revolves around protagonist SpongeBob Squarepants as he tries to stop a volcano from erupting. With the help of his friends, he must overcome a multitude of perilous obstacles to save his home from its imminent demise.

Trey’lon Salley (SpongeBob Squarepants) gave a wonderfully energetic performance. Complete with an accurate voice and a hilarious “character walk,” his impressive commitment to Spongebob was a testament to his acting ability. His physicality was nothing short of astonishing as he was bouncing and flipping across the stage. Jasmine Lane (Sandy Cheeks) showed a clear understanding of her character every minute she stood onstage. Lane delivered some incredibly powerful moments such as showcasing the heartbreak Sandy felt when she was being blamed for the natural disaster since she was different.

Sony Vassor (Squidward Tentacles) embodied his character excellently. His constant sass was a joy to watch. With perfect comedic timing, Mikala Phillips (Karen) expertly conveyed her character. She had an amusing yet fervent chemistry with Jahmal Hanna (Plankton).

The Sardine ensemble was an incredibly talented group. Their vocals were phenomenal and all of their comically exaggerated movements were in sync. This was especially displayed during their show-stopping number “Super Sea Star Savior.” Their interactions with Jaire St. Ange (Patrick Star) were absolutely hysterical. Madison Fraser (Pearl Krabs) must be commended for her sensational performance. She stole the show with her spectacular vocal prowess. Her clear articulation and diction added to her believability.

The technical elements of this production elevated it exponentially. The lighting effects helped make the earthquakes look realistic, and the moving set pieces created a suspenseful, climactic atmosphere as our heroes braved the treacherous path. Despite some issues with sound, actors were always able to recover and accommodate accordingly. Each costume was delightfully individualized, and attention to detail was clear. The characters looked reminiscent of the cartoon, adding a nice element of nostalgia.

Dillard Center for the Arts’ breathtaking performance of “The SpongeBob Musical” exceeds all expectations regarding the degree of difficulty. Viewing this fun, high-energy production can make any day the “Best Day Ever.”

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By Emily Kaufman of Cooper City High School

The sun rises on a new nautical day at Dillard Center for the Arts for their performance of “SpongeBob the Musical.” The cast took on Bikini Bottom with great character, care and commitment and certainly made this the “Best Day Ever!”

“SpongeBob the Musical,” based on the hit Nickelodeon TV cartoon “SpongeBob Squarepants,” follows fan favorites of the show as they must figure out how to save themselves from the volcanic eruption that is planned to hit Bikini Bottom. The musical, written by Kyle Jarrow, hit Broadway in late 2017, running for just 9 months at the Palace Theatre. It received 12 Tony nominations, winning for best scenic design.

Playing the not-so simple sponge, Trey’lon Salley (SpongeBob Squarepants) jumped with joy and had an incredible commitment to his character leading the show. Salley not only performed choreography and movement with perfection, but also maintained the physicality and voice of his character adding to the believability of the role. SpongeBob’s “BFF” was embodied by Jaire St. Ange (Patrick Star), who took comedic timing to the next level. St. Ange’s great vocal ability was highlighted in duet numbers like “(I Guess I) Miss You.” Salley and St. Ange showcased great chemistry through their characters’ relationship, focusing on the importance and fun of their friendship.

From evil scheme plotting to questionable gloating, Jahmal Hanna (Plankton) and Mikala Phillips (Karen), presented a memorable dynamic throughout the show’s progression. Phillips took on the comedic opportunities presented for her character and performed choreography with passion. Hanna executed difficult material including a rap section in “When the Going Gets Tough,” and always stayed true to his character through movement and reactions.

The citizens of Bikini Bottom graced the stage with great energy and individuality to their character. Specifically, Jaylon Mallard (Old Man Jenkins) committed to the elderly persona and was able to impressively improvise after a technical difficulty with his wig, making for a hilarious moment in that scene. The cast should be commended for executing difficult vocal material while performing rigorous choreography. Though at times the ensemble was unsure of their notes in certain sections of songs, they executed incredibly beautiful and crisp harmonies throughout the show. This was apparent in “Super Sea Star Savior,” which also highlighted superb vocalists of the ensemble like LaMacia Lewis (Lead Sardine) who presented an insane range and carried out difficult riffs with ease.

From lighting to set, the technical elements of this show allowed the cast to take us through a believable journey under the sea. The set contained ladders, platforms and a mobile staircase that the cast utilized in various numbers to assist with moments where SpongeBob and other cast members had to climb and make their way through the set.

Dillard Center for the Arts not only showcased the importance of friendship and determination, but also standing up for what is right and honoring the Bikini Bottom way.

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Reviews of The Jungle Book at South Plantation High School on Saturday, 12/04/2021.


By Christina Caride of Cooper City High School

When cast into a new environment, the animalistic nature of individuals increases as the king of the jungle is tested. South Plantation High School’s production of “The Jungle Book” assesses whether the survival of the fittest applies within our physical environments or rather the inner workings of our minds.

Joseph Robinette’s play conversion of “The Jungle Book” is one of the many adaptations from the original collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling in 1894. Centering upon the story’s author within this particular play, Kipling himself is portrayed both as himself as a writer and as Mowgli, the protagonist raised by wolves in the initial stories. As Kipling continues to write “The Jungle Book,” conflicts arise around the hierarchy within the wild, and themes of loyalty and morality parallel into both Kipling’s time at the British boarding school and Mowgli’s time within the jungle of India.

Taking on the responsibility of both the roles of Rudyard Kipling and Mowgli, Jermaine Jenkins delivered an unforgettable performance. Jenkins’s unwavering commitment to the character was evident through his consistent stage presence throughout the duration of the show. He possessed Kipling’s true desperation within his physicality, and to aid with this, Camila Bezerra, Rudyard Kipling/Mowgli’s ASL interpreter matched Jenkins’s resolute acting choices. The bilateral relationship between both actors exhibited an understanding of the shared complex role, never once lacking in interest.

Kinnley Burk supplied far more than the bare necessities in her portrayal as Baloo. Her creative character choices and excellent line delivery made the bear’s honey-collecting lessons riveting. In contrast to Baloo’s nonchalant nature, Shere Khan’s ASL interpreter, Maya Befield wonderfully portrayed the tiger’s aggressive demeanor over the jungle’s animal kingdom. Befield’s carnality showcased within her signing made her distinguishable as this show’s apex predator.

While the correspondence of both worlds in the tale was at times confusing, the cast’s motivations must be commended as each character was established in an individualistic manner. The actors demonstrated immense dedication to the production, as different languages such as Hindu and American sign language were learned and implemented within the scenes flawlessly.

The technical components fell nothing short of extravagant. Creature costumes designed by Kinnley Burk aided in the differentiation of the animal roles and human counterparts, most notably seen within Kaa’s snake puppetry and Hathi’s elephant mask. At times the clarity of sound was inconsistent, however, the actors did a brilliant job at overcoming this with powerful vocal presences.

South Plantation High School’s production of “The Jungle Book” produced vivid imagery not only towards depicting how wild the jungle can be, but as well as how haunting memories can become.

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By Isabella Saralegui of Cypress Bay High School

South Plantation High School’s twisted rendition of “The Jungle Book” beautifully combined theatre with American Sign Language so that the actors and ASL interpreters alike could make a more accessible show for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing audiences.

“The Jungle Book” stories originally, published in 1894, written by Rudyard Kipling follows the tale of Mowgli, a human boy raised by a pack of wolves. The tale of The “Jungle Book” became more commonly known through Disney’s 1967 film adaptation, which featured whimsical visuals and the catchy song “The Bare Necessities” that would later go on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. In 2016 “The Jungle Book” was made into a live-action film where it would receive the Oscar award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

Leading the show, Jermaine Jenkins adeptly executed his performance as both Rudyard Kipling and Mowgli. Jenkins’ steadfast commitment to portraying the mad Rudyard Kipling resulted in a very immersive performance, especially when he broke the fourth wall and addressed the audience directly. Rudyard Kipling/ Mowgli’s Interpreter, Camila Bezerra’s fluid signing, paired with her demanding stage presence made for a powerful dynamic between her and Jenkins.

Maya Befield as Shere Khan’s Interpreter delivered an unforgettable performance. Her emotive facial expressions, physicality, and overall intensity brought her performance to life. Befield along with Daniel Augustin, who played Shere Khan, had a very unified performance and gave us a very defined character.

Throughout the show, the interpreters played off of each other remarkably well. They all were in sync with their counterparts, never falling behind even during an extended period of time. Through their stage presence and chemistry with one another, all of the interpreters delivered a very impactful performance.

Though at times some technical aspects of the show overshadowed the actor’s and interpreter’s performances, overall the tech did an amazing job in assisting the performers in telling the story. The costumes were gorgeously executed with such attentive detail. The addition of shadow puppets and masks that covered the face was very effective, in that it allowed the interpreters to be the visual focus where the voice of the actors were there to provide audio.

South Plantation’s production of “The Jungle Book” took this typically upbeat, sunny, tale and turned it into an impeccable, macabre depiction of Rudyard Kipling’s downwards spiral towards insanity.

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By Nicholas Diraviam of Cooper City High School

The Jungle Book is often thought to be a playful story, but this rendition of “The Jungle Book” by Joseph Robinette adds a unique twist to the timeless story. South Plantation High School utilized vivid technical aspects and strong acting to bring the ominous production to life.

This tumultuous tale by Joseph Robinette switches from a mental asylum, to a boarding school, to a jungle- both of which are a product of Rudyard Kipling’s imagination. Kipling is the author of “The Jungle Book,” a collection of short stories that serve as the source material for this play and many movie adaptations. While his writing was already related to his past, this production presents him as the protagonist, merging history and fiction. In the play, Rudyard Kipling writes “The Jungle Book” in a mental asylum, whilst trying to come to terms with his Indian identity in a British world and his mental illness.

Tasked with an incredibly demanding role, Jermaine Jenkins (Rudyard Kipling/Mowgli) did a phenomenal job. There were no scene changes, so Jenkins was on stage the entire play. Despite having the heaviest role, he was deeply in character for every scene. Additionally, Camila Bezerra (Rudyard Kipling/Mowgli Interpreter) was skillfully integrated into the performance as one of the many ASL interpreters in this play. She embodied his character with interactions that made sense for Kipling’s crazy character. Together, the duo’s compelling performance of Kipling was able to captivate a broader audience.

Kinnley Burk (Crofts/Baloo)’s skillful rhyming, made her commitment to her character evident. This dedication differentiated her character from the others in the wolf pack. Jadelyn McClary (Hathi) also diversified the tone of the performance. Her character was incredibly intriguing for the few scenes that featured her.

The ensemble ensured that there was not a moment where the audience was disengaged. They worked harmoniously to create smooth transitions between scenes. The monkey tribe’s coordinated blocking and chants added variation to the performance. Despite having few words, they created a playful atmosphere that could entrance a viewer like it did Mowgli. Although the cast sometimes lacked enunciation and inflection, their physicality conveyed their messages well. Especially in the first few minutes of the play, they managed to introduce the asylum without commencing the dialogue.

The technical aspects were clearly valued elements of the performance. Much thought and effort were put into making each costume look detailed and emphasize the symbolism. At first, the masks and makeup seemed unnecessary, and it even seemed to hide the facial expressions of the actors. However, in the second act of the play, it became clear that the masks connected the animals to the humans, and this symbolism explains how Kipling is using this book to battle his own demons.

South Plantation High School’s production of “The Jungle Book” was an ominous twist on a classic tale; the themes of cultural identity and mental illness will surely resonate with those who viewed the riveting performance.

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By Shira Garber of David Posnack Jewish Day School

“Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; and the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die” (Rudyard Kipling, The Law of the Jungle).This dark interpretation of the beloved Jungle Book highlights the similarities between Rudyard Kipling’s experiences as well as the people he meets at school, with the iconic characters of “The Jungle Book.” South Plantation’s production of the Jungle Book implemented many bold elements to distinguish between Kipling’s world and that of the “Jungle Book ” as Kipling himself is struggling mentally and with his identity.

Kipling’s original book was published in 1894, and immediately gained popularity. The much lighter Disney animated version was released in musical form in 1994 with a sequel released in 2003. A successful live action/CGI version was released in 2016. The play, which returns to the original darker themes, was released in 2015 written by Joseph Robinette.

As this version is interspersed with stories of Rudyard Kipling’s own life, the cast frequently switched between the world of Kipling and The Jungle Book. Jermaine Jenkins did a phenomenal job bringing both Kipling and Mowgli to life, delving into such a dramatic and unstable character is a difficult challenge. Jenkins delivered a believable performance consistently, despite not once leaving the stage. Alongside him with a captivating performance, was Camilla Bezerra as his American Sign Language interpreter. The pair brought a powerful dynamic to the play through their interactions and individual character expressions. Their antagonist was the evil Shere Khan played by Daniel Augustin. Augustin nailed the underlying tones of his character. He was also paired with an expressive and energetic ASL interpreter; Maya Befield, who utilized her position to expand on Shere Khan’s emotional expression. Kinnley Burk (Baloo) brought some lighthearted rhymes to the play, expertly navigating her more joyful lines while keeping to the overall sinister undertones. Madisyn Racine’s Kaa utilized their puppet effectively for a hypnotizing performance.

While certain actors were difficult to hear due to enunciation and sound effects such as echoes, overall, the cast worked through many elements to put on a captivating performance. The cast and interpreters did an outstanding job of justifying and contextualizing a sometimes confusing script. At certain points, tech elements seemed to overshadow their performances but in the second act, they better utilized them to their advantage.

Props such as the medicine bottle for the red flower added deeper symbolic meaning to the show. Certain costumes like Baloo’s mixed more modern themes while still clearly denoting that they were animals. Others were more true to the classic animal depictions such as Kaa’s impressive snake. Due to both ornate masks and in certain cases washed out makeup, it was often difficult to see the actors faces while masks obstructed audio. As Stage Manager, Daley Eisenmann deftly ran a very tech-heavy and difficult show.

South Plantation High School rose to the challenge of presenting an intense and difficult production. They worked with many complex kinetic aspects and concepts to convey this heartfelt tale. In the end, the show demonstrates that people are not so different from animals after all and we can all learn something from the Laws of the Jungle.

*** *** ***

By Mudit Marwaha of American Heritage School

Describing the law of the Jungle, Rudyard Kipling writes “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” South Plantation High School’s production of “The Jungle Book” by Joseph Robinette undeniably lived up to this message of strength in unity, producing a masterpiece portraying Kipling’s characters as one cohesive unit.

The play takes place in Kipling’s boarding school bedroom, where he is writing “The Jungle Book” . In the Jungle Book, the audience follows the story of the life of a boy who is raised by wolves and is learning the ways of the jungle. In addition, the play draws numerous parallels with playwright Kipling’s own life, and his struggles in finding his own identity at a British boarding school as a new student from India. In his real life, Kipling notably struggled with mental issues, and the trauma he felt at the boarding school influenced his writing of the main character’s relationships with the other animals in the jungle. As the play progresses, the connections between the characters in the two settings are beautifully unveiled. Joseph Robinette’s “The Jungle Book” was originally written in 1995, and was based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel of the same name.

Jermaine Jenkins must be commended for his endurance and physicality throughout the play. Jenkins remained collected under the bright spotlight, and thrived as Mowgli (the boy raised by wolves) and Rudyard Kipling. Staying true to Kipling’s condition suffering from mental health problems, Jenkins was seen shivering and using his body language beautifully, also helping the audience distinguish between Mowgli and Kipling.

The cast and production crew infused their full energy and enthusiasm into their production, with each actor from the lead roles to the smallest role wholeheartedly  staying true to their character. The characters went as far as learning to speak Hindi (the spoken Indian language in the village) for their dialogues in the play. Most uniquely, South Plantation must be applauded for the usage of ASL sign language interpreters throughout the entire production. The ASL interpreters not only signed everything, but did so in a way that portrayed the characters precise emotions.

With “The Jungle Book” being quite an emotionally heavy production, Kinney Burk (Baloo) did a great job adding a dash of humor throughout the play. Her rhyming dialogues and witty one liners kept the mood light hearted. Also standing out was Camila Becerra (Mowgli’s interpreter), who managed to accurately sign the conversation between three different characters concurrently.

Evident with the smooth transitions and sharp character designs there was a keen emphasis on technical elements. Kaa the snake’s costume, with his glowing red eyes, hypnotized not only Baloo’s attention but the audience’s as well. The utilization of the full stage and synchronization of certain scenes highlighted the effective stage management.

South Plantation High School can add the “Jungle Book” to its shelf of hit plays, with its messages about identity and unity resonating with the audience for years to come.

*** *** ***

Reviews of All My Sons at The Benjamin School on Sunday, 11/13/2021.


By Emily Kaufman of Cooper City High School

What happens when one big family secret gets out, shattering their bond to pieces? Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” performed by The Benjamin School, tells a story that forces you to reevaluate the American Dream, consider the true meaning of family, and ponder the consequences of your actions.

This American tragedy by Arthur Miller follows Joe Keller and his family through the struggles of maintaining a highly respected view from the community, while simultaneously grieving a missing son, and wondering when is it time to move on. “All My Sons” first premiered on Broadway on January 29, 1947 and has had several revival productions following its closing in 1949.

With authentic passion and grounded delivery, Katherine Rodgers (Kate Keller) executed a heart-wrenching performance. She possessed pure vulnerability, allowing the audience to watch her break down and show the mental struggles of her character. Portraying the show’s classic American businessman, Jacob Steinger (Joe Keller) had notable comedic timing. He displayed genuine chemistry with Caden Quinn (Chris Keller), and through this, their character development was not only showcased individually, but also highlighted within their relationship.

Quinn perfectly embodied raw emotion and power. He showcased true passion and built great connections with not only Steinger, but with Rodgers and his romantic counterpart Catherine Schenk. Schenk, playing the sweet but conflicted Ann Deever, showcased a fluid connection with Quinn and had pristine delivery with her lines, showing genuine character.

The cast did a beautiful job bringing Miller’s story to life. Tasked with very difficult material, the actors should be commended for their vulnerable, original performances and understanding of the work. Many characters had a great grasp for their depth of emotion, they stayed true to their character and maintained strong connections with each other onstage. The Kellers’ neighbors had great comedic timing, specifically Ella Pierman (Sue Bayliss) who perfectly embodied a snarky housewife of the time. Though there were moments where poor execution of stage combat was distracting to the climax of the scene, actors were quickly able to bring the emotion to a place of believability.

The technical elements of this show were truly beautiful and assisted in transporting the audience back to 1947. Make-up and hair by Catherine Schenk was true to the era and fit the context of the show. Stand out moments included the thought to dishevel Chris’ hair once he returned to the stage in Act 3, conveying the stress he experienced. Though it was difficult to make out the age make-up on the older characters, the beards and other features on actresses portraying male roles were perfectly executed.

The Benjamin School’s production of “All My Sons” was honest and full of love. The messages that Miller intended to demonstrate were brilliantly communicated through a captivating story of greed, grief, and guilt.

*** *** ***

By Savannah Schwantes of Cooper City High School

The “American Dream” has been desired by people far and wide since the birth of our nation. In The Benjamin School’s riveting production of “All My Sons,” the lengths that some go to in order to reach this so-called “dream” are revealed and they can be nothing short of a heart-wrenching nightmare.

Written by famed playwright Arthur Miller, “All My Sons” debuted on Broadway in 1947. The show quickly became critically acclaimed, winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award its opening year. Based on a true story that Miller read in a newspaper, the production details the aftermath of World War II and how the Keller family responds to the loss of Larry, their son. Themes of guilt and responsibility are explored as the show reveals a morally wrong decision that favored capitalism and familial success, rather than the lives of real people.

Embodying the grief-stricken mother of the Keller family was Katherine Rodgers as Kate. Rodgers delivered an immaculate performance in which she employed motivated physicality and genuine emotion to brilliantly portray the denial and maternal distraught within the Keller matriarch. Playing Joe Keller, the businessman who sacrificed his honor for the benefit of his family company, was Jacob Steinger.  The execution provided by Steinger must be commended, as his chemistry with other members of the Keller family allowed for the audience to receive the depth and emotion necessary for the tragic narrative.

As Chris Keller, Caden Quinn supplied an authentic rendition of his character. Quinn’s acting expertise was presented throughout the duration of the show, as he utilized appropriate characterization that was synonymous with the post-war period. Quinn worked brilliantly with his romantic counterpart, Catherine Schenk as Ann Deever. The duo created sincere reactions, notably when their blossoming love for each other was depicted. Once again, the setting was reinforced as their awkward, yet adorable infatuation was reminiscent of the 1940’s.

Overall, the cast of the “All My Sons” worked cohesively to communicate the tension and emotion demanded by the taxing production. Bearing much-needed comedic relief and commentary amidst dire circumstances were the neighbors of the Keller family. Notably, Ella Pierman as Sue Bayliss comically portrayed the front that housewives put on with their acquaintances.

The technical components heightened the production even further. The dedication to makeup and hair, implemented by Catherine Schenk, was evident. A variety of techniques were utilized to differentiate ages and distinguish the period. The lighting designs, at times, did not entirely highlight the actor’s expressions. Nevertheless, the technical crew should be applauded for their attention to detail.

The Benjamin School’s poignant performance of “All My Sons” skillfully allowed audiences to ponder the conflict of familial loyalty and moral obligation. Throughout the three acts, a storm of heavy sentiment and strife materializes, and reminds us of the weight of our own actions.

*** *** ***

By Elena Ashburn of Cooper City High School

We live in an individual world, and much of what we deem important in life is centered around ourselves and our families. The Benjamin School’s production of “All My Sons” challenged that view, reminding audience members of the significance of their individual actions.

“All My Sons” was written by Arthur Miller shortly after the end of World War II. The play first premiered on Broadway in 1947, where it ran for over 300 performances and won multiple Tony Awards. Inspired by a story Miller read in a newspaper, the plot of “All My Sons” follows The Kellers, a seemingly normal American family, as they cope with the disappearance of their son Larry during World War II. During the play, a sinister truth about their father is revealed, unraveling their family bond. The show explores the American Dream and themes of morality and responsibility to the world, especially during times of war.

Jacob Steinger (Joe Keller) did a marvelous job playing the demanding role of an “average Joe” with a dark secret. His emotion and physicality was palpable, and he captured the essence of his 61-year-old character with skill. As his wife in the show, Katherine Rodgers (Kate Keller) masterfully portrayed a heartbroken matriarch in denial. Her character choices were grounded, her emotions were genuine, and she tackled the difficult role with grace.

Caden Quinn (Chris Keller) phenomenally characterized the Keller’s idealist son. His acting was incredible and his performance felt true to the 1940s setting. His chemistry with other characters was spot-on. Particularly, his relationship with Catherine Schenk (Ann Deever) stands out. Their sweet love story amidst a storm of lies, angry brothers, snooping neighbors, and even suicide had the audience clinging to the hope for a happy ending for the couple.

Although the show was quite mature considering the age of the actors, the cast did a brilliant job expressing the depth of emotions needed for heavy subject matter. The show’s fast pace warranted many swift transitions in tone and the actors handled each deftly.

The ensemble of neighbors did a stupendous job relieving tension and adding lighthearted moments to a grim show. A standout ensemble member was Xan Blount (Bert), who played a young neighbor boy. The innocence and energy she brought to the role was refreshing.

The technical elements of “All My Sons” deserve commendation. Specifically, the make-up and hair crew, headed by Catherine Schenk, did an outstanding job bringing the characters of the show to life. Old age makeup techniques were utilized on characters like Joe Keller to highlight their seniority, whereas bouncy curls and red lipstick were used to emphasize the youth of the neighbor girls and Ann.

The Benjamin School’s production of “All My Sons” was a heart-wrenching story of intense grief, familial love, and moral obligation. It was a harrowingly beautiful reminder that “there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it.”

*** *** ***

By Sarah Abisror of Cooper City High School

“There are certain men in the world who rather see everybody hung before they’ll take blame.” The Benjamin School’s spectacular performance of “All My Sons” expertly explores the motivations of such a person, and what happens when they are suddenly forced to be held accountable.

Based on a true story, “All My Sons” was written by Arthur Miller. It opened on Broadway in 1947, where it ran for 328 performances. It acquired multiple awards including a Tony Award for Best Author. This American tragedy follows the Keller family as they fall apart. Joe Keller loves his family more than anything. For them, he would knowingly ship out faulty aircraft parts and have a hand in killing 21 pilots just to make money and ensure they live in luxury. He kept it a secret, blamed his partner, and was never convicted. Problems arise when his son, Chris, proposes to Ann, his partner’s daughter (who was previously in love with his late son, Larry). Trust is broken as secrets are revealed and things are taken way too far.

Playing the big-shot businessman, Jacob Steinger commanded the stage as Joe Keller. His nuanced mannerisms added believability to his portrayal of a character more than three times his age. The intensity of his emotions built with each passing act and contributed brilliantly to his inevitable climactic breaking point. Displaying exponential amounts of denial and grief, Katherine Rodgers embodied Kate Keller. Her incredible characterization delivered an abundance of depth and emotion which elevated every scene she was in.

Caden Quinn delivered a spectacular performance as Chris Keller. Quinn had excellent period style acting, which kept scenes grounded into the 1940’s era. His familial bond with Joe throughout the first act made it absolutely heartbreaking to watch as he learns the truth about his father in Act 2. Alongside Quinn as his wide-eyed ingénue, Ann Deever, was Catherine Schenk. The pair worked extremely well together. Their adoration of each other was believable, showcased during moments such as their first kiss.

The ensemble of neighbors to the Keller family provided a great source of comic relief, especially Ella Pierman as Sue Bayliss. Her fake smiles as she gossiped to Ann were hilarious and a much-welcomed break from the distress that opened the second act.

The hair and makeup team, headed by Catherine Schenk, did an outstanding job. They ensured every character’s hair was period-appropriate which helped keep the show within the 1940’s atmosphere. Despite a lack of consistent aging makeup, there was a clear distinction between characters with large age gaps.

The cast and crew deserve to be commended for their fantastic production of “All My Sons”. Today must have been The Benjamin School’s “favorable day.”

*** *** ***

By Kelsey Bonner of West Boca Raton High

Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”, often said to be the “Great American Tragedy”, which has seen many revivals since its publication in 1946, has been expertly interpreted by The Benjamin School. The three-act play follows the Kellers and an explosive one-day journey that forever changes their lives. It is a deep and heavy show and thus must be handled with care. And how exemplary the students at The Benjamin School handled it.

The cast as a whole demonstrated great knowledge and understanding of the emotional beats this show requires. There was wonderful energy on stage. In both romantic scenes between Ann Deever, played by Catherine Schenk, and Chris Keller, portrayed by Caden Quinn, as well as in explosive scenes between Chris Keller and his father, Joe Keller, played by Jacob Steinger, the actors had extraordinary chemistry. The emotional beats only worked to emphasize the tension on stage. Praise needs to be given to Caden Quinn for his final poignant moment. After his father has committed suicide, indicated only by a heart-shattering gunshot, Chris enters the house, only to come back into the yard and say, “Mother, I didn’t mean to…” This line, delivered so plainly, left no eye in the audience dry.

A very deserving round of applause goes to Katherine Rodgers, who played a harrowing and moving Kate Keller. Her masterful performance brought an air of calm insanity while excelling at delivering her lines in a grounded and genuine way. She portrayed great skill in understanding the volume needed for her scenes. She displayed great discipline as well in developing her character.

One should also recognize Catherine Schenk, who alone designed the makeup and hair and also starred in the show. She displayed a magnificent understanding of the style common in the late 1940s middle-class. The makeup echoes the style that was popular after the end of World War II and the hair styles showed the dainty style of the time. The overall maintenance of both actors’ makeup and hair left them looking clean and natural, with a consistency that never took the audience from the scene.

“All My Sons” is a show with a degree of difficulty that renders many high schools incapable of accurately portraying the emotional depth of the story. However, the students at The Benjamin School have taken an emotionally demanding show and presented it in a way Arthur Miller certainly would have approved of. The production was breathtaking in all aspects and the actors excelled at bringing the audience into the Kellers’ backyard. This American Tragedy has become a victory for The Benjamin School.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Steel Magnolias at Archbishop McCarthy High School on Sunday, 11/13/2021.


By Maya Befeld of South Plantation High School

Too many times, women are painted as delicate and helpless creatures. Their minds, bodies, and hearts are too fragile and weak to serve any true purpose. In reality, women are the most fierce beings on this earth; able to walk through hell and come out the other side stronger than before. Archbishop Mccarthy High School’s production of Steel Magnolias tells the tale of six such women, as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.

Written in 1987 by Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias is a comedy-drama based on the playwright’s sister’s life as a diabetic and how her life came to an untimely end due to complications surrounding a kidney transplant. The play was originally intended to be a short story, but was transformed into a play and produced off-broadway in March of 1987. The play was adapted as a film in 1988 and released in 1989 and had two separate television adaptations. Steel Magnolias finally made its Broadway debut in April of 2005 at the Lyceum Theatre, where it ran for 3 months.

Erica Gouldthorpe as M’Lynn Eatenton was absolutely phenomenal. Her chemistry with the other characters truly made it feel like these women had known each other for years. In all of her scenes with Ashley Goehmann as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, their dynamic was beautiful. They perfectly encapsulated the trope of a mother and daughter constantly butting heads but still caring deeply for each other. It was evident that both Gouldthorpe and Goehmann had spent time developing their characters and working each scene individually until it felt organic. Gouldthorpe’s body language and expressions showed exactly what she was thinking, even in moments where the focus was on other characters.

Isabella Ruiz as Clairee Belcher and Sarah Wolfe as Ouiser Bondraux were a hysterical pair. The chemistry between the two was sensational and a joy to watch. With Clairee’s crude humor and Ouiser’s gruff demeanor, Ruiz and Wolfe played these characters in the most amusing way. Ruiz’s vocal work, not only on the accent but on the rasp of her voice at the end of act one, was incredible. Not once did it feel forced or over the top, and it certainly never wavered or slipped. Wolfe’s comedic timing was golden. Not only was she excellent at portraying a surly old woman, but she also wonderfully depicted the underlying fondness her character had for her friends.

The technical aspects of the show were magnificent. The makeup design, lighting, sound, and costumes were unreal. Each lighting switch portrayed exactly what the tone of the scene was, and the sound never missed a cue by even a millisecond. Each costume was period-appropriate and tailored to the character’s unique personal style. The makeup design by Juliana Maestri was outstanding. She completely transformed high school girls into 40-60-year-old women with just the stroke of a contour stick.

Archbishop Mccarthy High School truly went above and beyond to put together the perfect production of Steel Magnolias and represented the beauty of kinship among women.

*** *** ***

By Cristian Velasquez of Cypress Bay High School

That which does not kill us only makes us stronger. However, no matter how much your mind may believe and accept this, it is immensely more strenuous to explain this concept to the heart. Archbishop McCarthy High School’s heartfelt production of “Steel Magnolias” elegantly tells the comical tale of love, loss, strength, and everlasting friendships.

Written by Robert Harling, this touching comedy-drama premiered off-Broadway in 1987, later blooming on Broadway in 2005. Based on the real-life experience of his sister’s death, “Steel Magnolias” centers around six southern women who are “as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.” The story follows Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, who has recently become engaged; however, as she faces a precarious pregnancy and a myriad of health issues, these women must endure life’s hardships, seeking comfort in one another as their bonds are tested.

Embodying the compassionate career woman M’Lynn Eatenton, Erica Gouldthorpe delivered a powerful performance through her emotive facial expressions and matriarchal presence. Gouldthorpe beautifully encapsulated the motherly nature and concern of her character, showcasing an exceptional and poignant range, most notable after the loss of her daughter. Ashley Goehmann captured the hopeful diabetic Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie. Goehmann gracefully depicted the struggles of her character with elegant realism, establishing an engaging performance. Goehmann achieved sincere chemistry with Gouldthorpe, developing a tender mother-daughter bond throughout the production.

As the humorous widow Clairee Belcher, Isabella Ruiz exhibited impeccable comedic timing and abilities, producing a lighthearted contrast to the darker moments throughout the show. Ruiz established playful and charming chemistry with Sarah Wolfe as the curmudgeon Ouiser Boudreaux. Wolfe additionally demonstrated impressive comedic capabilities, which complemented that of Ruiz. Bella Nanavichit portrayed the sassy beautician Truvy Jones, delivering a brilliant enthusiasm to the performance. Alongside Nanavichit, Mia Martinez played the religious and quirky Annelle Dupuy-Desoto. Martinez displayed notable character progression and developed a sincere relationship with Nanavichit.

The cast as a whole must be commended for their clear commitment and precise understanding of their characters. Each actress exceptionally maintained their accent throughout the production, contributing to the authenticity of their performances. Moreover, the actresses established mature, well-developed characters with distinct characterization, enlivening the spitfire southern women and producing a harmonious marriage between comedy and tragedy throughout the production.

The technical aspects of the production assisted in the creation of the southern beauty parlor. Stage management must be recognized for its flawless accuracy on the numerous cues throughout the performance. The use of color portrayed through the lighting of the show contributed to the tone of each scene. The detailed costumes complimented the persona of each character remarkably.

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s poignant production of “Steel Magnolias” celebrates the power of friendship in overcoming grief and sorrow and serves as a reminder that sometimes we are unaware of how lucky we are to have such wonderful people and connections in our lives.

*** *** ***

By Lindsay Stern of NSU University School

A southern recipe served up with haircuts, curls, nails, gossip, and lots of love. Archbishop McCarthy School’s production of Steel Magnolias makes audiences feel the true warmth of southern comfort.

Steel Magnolias was written by Robert Harling and was originally a short story that was later developed into a script based on his own experiences while grieving his sister’s death. The play opened off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre on March 28, 1987. Steel Magnolias made its Broadway debut on April 4, 2005, at the Lyceum Theatre and closed in that very same year on July 31st.

Our story takes place in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where anyone who is anyone gets their hair done at Truvy’s beauty salon. The story explores the life of a young Shelby Eatenton and her trials and tribulations. Through falling in love, starting a family, and health complications Shelby’s life is centered around the salon and its patrons. Among them is Truvy, the salon owner, her eager assistant, Annelle, Ousier a stubborn millionaire, Miss Clairee a sweetheart with a massive, sweet tooth, and the local ringleader of all social affairs Shelby’s mother M’Lynn. Integrating light-hearted comedy and cooky characters with a serious heartbreaking storyline, Steel Magnolias provides a genuine and deep understanding of friendship, love, and great hair care.

As M’Lynn Eatenton, Erica Gouldthorpe led the overall emotional drive of the show. Gouldthopre was simply spectacular and had a deep understanding of her character. Gouldthorpe also shared a believable connection with Ashley Goehmann (Shelby) her daughter in the show which had me tickled pink! The ensemble of characters did a beautiful job of using their facial expressions throughout the performance. It felt as if we could see exactly what they were thinking even when they weren’t speaking. Portraying the outspoken and strong-headed Clairee Belcher was Isabella Ruiz. Ruiz amazed the audience with her impeccable comedic timing and explored all different types of comedy throughout her delivery. Sometimes older characters can be harder for high school students to recreate but Gouldthorpe, Ruiz, and Sarah Wolfe (Ouiser Boudreaux) had no trouble bringing their characters to life through both their physicality and tone. The actors did an exemplary job of using a southern accent. Not only were the accents crisp and understandable but they were maintained through the entirety of the show.

The show was managed by Lauren Kim. Kim called the show perfectly not missing one cue. The show ran very smoothly, and each cue flowed seamlessly into the next.

Archbishop McCarthy School’s production of Steel Magnolias captured the real essence of the spirited women illustrated in the story. The play provided snappy one-liners, a steel-strong bond of sisterhood, a guaranteed good cry, and reminded audiences that sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

*** *** ***

By Sofia Fernandez of Calvary Christian Academy

Capturing moments of both laughter and sorrow, Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of “Steel Magnolias” was as intricate as steel but as beautiful as magnolias.

Written by American playwright Robert Harling, “Steel Magnolias” is a stage play that first debuted in the WPA Theatre in New York City in 1987. Since then, this production has been performed nationally and has even had a television adaptation. Following the lives of six close friends living in northwestern Louisiana, “Steel Magnolias” was inspired through Harling’s family’s experiences with the passing of his sister. The play was the product of a friend’s advice for Harling to write out his emotions for clarity and peace. However, this method of coping and closure soon evolved into this heartfelt story to be told for generations to come.

Embodying M’Lynn Eatenton, Erica Gouldthorpe portrayed a range of depth and emotion throughout her acting. Her commitment never faltered, most notably seen at the climax where she breaks down after Shelby’s death. She created such an authentic moment that genuinely moved and touched the audience. Alongside her, Ashley Goehmann played bubbly Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie that surely tickled the audience pink. Together, they conveyed their strong mother-daughter relationship through their excellent chemistry and understanding of both their own and each other’s characters.

Notably, Bella Nanavichit’s performance of Truvy Jones was also astounding through the incredible execution of her comedic character. Her energy was prevalent throughout every scene with stunning stage presence. Even the interactions between Ouiser Boudreaux (Sarah Wolfe) and Clairee Belcher (Isabella Ruiz) never failed to provide the audience with an abundance of laughter even amid the heartfelt moments. Finally, the character development of Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (Mia Martinez) was evident as she transitioned from a timid young girl to a confident and poised woman.

As a whole, the entire cast was very articulate amid the Southern accents. Even with the lack of facial mics, their clear projection allowed their dialogue to be understood distinctly. The six possessed a continual commitment to their roles through their facial expressions and interactions with props,  even when dialogue was not spoken. The balance between tender and comedic moments also allowed their believable chemistry and strong dynamic to be showcased. The pacing was steady and engaging, allowing the full professionalism of the production to be displayed.

Although this production was not exceedingly demanding in many technical aspects, the moments that required them were executed flawlessly. This was most notable through the sound cues on the radio and gunshots that were timed perfectly. The setting of the production was also enhanced through the time-fitting costumes and age-appropriate makeup for each distinguished character. Overall, it is evident that behind each technological detail was an immense amount of intention that truly enhanced the reality of this production.

Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of “Steel Magnolias” proved that not even death can sever the bonds of a friend. Even in the darkest of times, one can have “laughter through tears” when surrounded by your loved ones.

*** *** ***

By Emma Flynn of South Plantation High School

People step in and out of each other’s lives like pieces in a moving set- forever going, forever shifting. All one can really hope for is to be lucky enough to be there when wonderful people come, and when wonderful people go. In Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of “Steel Magnolias,” six southern women gather in a local beauty parlor to share their lives through the bond of sisterhood, even in the stark face of tragedy.

Written by Richard Harling, “Steel Magnolias” is a comedy-drama based on the life and death of Harling’s sister and her experiences with Type 1 diabetes. Originally written as a short story for his nephew, Harling later converted the story into a play that opened off-Broadway in 1987. The play was later adapted into a movie of the same name in 1989 and was brought to Broadway in 2005.

With an immense maturity and excellent commitment to character, Erica Gouldthorpe’s portrayal of the tough and intensely loyal mother M’Lynn Eatenton is gripping. From her passive-aggressive comments about her daughter’s snark to the heart-wrenching breakdown at the climax of the show, Gouldthorpe was fully immersed in the hopes and fears of her character throughout. Gouldthorpe’s expressions and emotions bring her character to life, and her interactions with the players around her were always motivated and sincere. As M’Lynn’s counterpart and daughter Shelby Eatenton-Latchrie, Ashley Goehmann brought an outwardly breezy and carefree attitude to the role, yet underneath the surface, Goehmann skillfully revealed how frightened and troubled Shelby truly was through an impeccable dynamic with those around her.

Despite the heavy themes the play revolves around, characters like Clairee Belcher (Isabella Ruiz) and Ouiser Boudreaux (Sarah Wolfe) brought much-needed levity through their unmatchable chemistry and hilariously timed one-liners. Ruiz, specifically, leads the comedic moments through her dry wit and petty jabs towards Wolfe, but it is in her gentle moments that the character shines. Ruiz’s ability to shift from sarcasm to genuine care is something that brings an already compelling character to the next level, creating a role that does not just exist for comedic effect, but one that matters in the grand scope of these characters’ lives.

In addition to an exceptional performance by the cast, the technical elements of this show were implemented seamlessly. Stage management (Lauren Kim) was flawless, with every radio chime or flicker of the lights done perfectly. The inclusion of a bright pink light fading into darkness at the beginning of the first act was harrowing, perfectly setting the tone for the emotional shift the characters embark on towards the last half of the show. In addition, marketing and publicity (Lauren Kim and Hannah Young) was excellent and fit with the theme of womanhood.

Amidst the cloud of hairspray and the gleam of nail polish, Archbishop McCarthy High School’s production of “Steel Magnolias” is a story about strength and grief, and how a gaggle of good friends will hold you up even at the darkest of times.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Apple Tree at Cardinal Gibbons High School on Sunday, 11/13/2021.


By Emma Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

Whether eating the forbidden fruit, discovering what lies behind a fateful door, or becoming a beautiful, glamorous movie star, sometimes our greatest desires turn out to be anything but what we thought. Through chaotic love stories and comedic temptations, this overarching message prevails in Cardinal Gibbons High School’s captivating production of “The Apple Tree.”

With music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and a book by Bock and Harnick, this series of three musical playlets made its Broadway debut on October 18, 1966, at the Shubert Theatre. The production begins with a satirical yet touching twist on the story of Adam and Eve, as the Earth’s first couple explores the pain and passion of an evolving relationship. Act Two, based on Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady and the Tiger,” follows an impermissible love, set in a mythical monarchy in which innocence and guilt are determined by a criminal’s choice of mystery doors.  The musical ends with an unconventional Cinderella story, based on Jules Feiffer’s “Passionella,” as a chimney sweep’s transformation to a movie star leaves her battling her dreams versus the prospect of love.

Portraying the curious and playful Eve, Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin demonstrated infectious energy and superb character development as her youthful, bubbly persona matured into motherhood. Arevalo-Medellin exhibited stellar vocal control through her rigorous songs and impeccable dance technique and acrobatic skill as her various characters. Adam, the stubborn and overly practical first man, was embodied by Cameron Relicke. Relicke’s impressive vocalization, impeccable comedic timing, and compelling progression of his character enhanced his commanding stage presence. Arevalo-Medellin and Relicke expressed engaging chemistry as their relationship developed from constant quarrels to a true romance.

Sophia Hazleton delivered an exceptional performance as the humble chimney sweep, Ella, and her glamorous, movie star counterpart, Passionella. Hazleton depicted clear differentiation between her contrasting personas through her physicality and vocal intonation, accompanied by her exceptional and powerful singing voice. Anthony Avello played both the conniving snake and the mischievous storyteller, Balladeer. Whether through his smooth, stealthy movements or his joyful guitar-playing gait, Avello displayed distinct characterizations, individualizing his roles, while maintaining constant humor as both.

The company formed a cohesive unit of storytellers as they effectively communicated each plot while uniting the production with endless comedy and entertaining conveyance of the thematic through lines. The performers who were double-cast did a phenomenal job depicting unique characters in each act. Although there were occasional fluctuations in energy, the ensemble overcame any faults with their unison execution of the choreography and stellar harmonies.

From the Garden of Eden to a barbarian kingdom, the technical aspects of the production immediately immersed viewers into the diverse and distinct settings. The stage crew allowed for a smooth performance and executed scene transitions seamlessly. The costumes helped communicate the story’s progression and symbolism and the makeup perfectly enhanced each character.

From forbidden fruit to forbidden love, Cardinal Gibbon High School’s “Beautiful” production of “The Apple Tree” confronts our temptations and the trouble that ensues when we succumb to their lure.

*** *** ***

By Annie Sudler of North Broward Preparatory School

The bickering couple, the fate-doomed lovers, and the rags-to-riches dreamer.  These characters and the tropes they have inspired have been in our stories for centuries and will likely stand the test of time for generations to some.  “The Apple Tree” offers a refreshing spin on these classic characters, and Cardinal Gibbons High School’s recent production of this classic musical brought a fun new energy back into these much-loved tales.

Written in 1966 by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (a duo with credits like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “She Loves Me” to their names), “The Apple Tree” tells a much different story than some of their other shows. Told in three acts, each act tells a completely separate story, all of which share an overall theme. The first act tells the biblical story of Adam and Eve, whereas the second act tells a classic short story called the Lady or the Tiger.  Different still, the third Act is a retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella.

The show had an incredibly strong start with its Act 1 cast. Adam and Eve, played by Cameron Relicke and Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin were a phenomenal duo. Not only did they completely carry their own in the moments where they were alone on stage, but the moments in which they acted as a pair were just as well performed. Their impeccable chemistry, comedic timing, and overall commitments and ability to showing their characters growth and changes throughout the first act was truly remarkable. Bridging the first two acts with some truly wonderful moments was Anthony Avello, who played the Snake in Act 1 and the Balladeer in the next. These two characters are certainly different, but Avello played them in a way that not only differentiated them, but was both hilarious and compelling to watch. His mannerisms and comedic timing were on point every moment he appeared on stage, and he was a true joy to watch.

Each act of “The Apple Tree” tells a very distinct story that is completely separate from the other two, and the technical aspects of the show certainly worked in the story’s favor. While the costumes and props were not without anachronisms, they overall served the story with minimal distractions. The hair and makeup team, made up of Julia Dasilva and Julia Gambello, did a beautiful job creating looks that were distinct enough to create recognizable characters, but not outlandish to the point of distraction. Another cleverly designed technical aspect of the show was its choreography, created by Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin. Once again, each act’s choreography was a wonderful aid in establishing where and when each storyline was taking place. Though there were some moments in which choreography executed by the ensemble fell flat, the overall stage pictures and image recreated served the stories well.

Cardinal Gibbons High School’s performance of “The Apple Tree” was a truly wonderful show punctuated with standout vocals and high-quality acting all around, but it’s true strength lay in the cast’s commitment to the show’s theme.  It takes a committed group to retell the stories we know by heart in a way that feels new and interesting, and the cast and crew’s hard work to achieve this was evident and effective.

*** *** ***

By Danny Landin of J.P. Taravella High School

Things are not always as they seem, curiosity can lead to corruption, and love can easily be torn to shreds. Cardinal Gibbons High School illustrated all these lessons in a marvelous trilogy of Musical acts, “The Apple Tree.”

With music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, “The Apple Tree” displays three separate and distinct stories across its three acts. Act I follows the first humans on earth, Adam and Eve, as they discover the world around them and fall in love, Based on the book by Mark Twain “Diaries of Adam and Eve.” Act II follows a different troubled love story, one of jealousy and life or death decisions. Also known as “The lady and the Tiger” Act II is centered around Princess Barbara and her forbidden love with the soldier Sanjar. Their fable leads to the third and final act “Passionella” an offbeat telling of the classic Cinderella story.

The first man on earth was played by Cameron Relicke, with boisterous energy and phenomenal comedic timing that filled up the stage. His partner in sin, Eve, thoroughly embodied by Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin, used fantastic physicality to convey a sweet and curious creature. Sophia Hazleton was the “Gorgeously” talented star behind the role of Passionella. The duality in her character was amazingly conveyed and the breath support behind her voice was jaw dropping.

Anthony Avello’s performance as Balladeer was a wonderful juxtaposition to Act II, as his comedic delivery contrasted with the more serious story beats and the Narration in Act III, by Amanda Jones, had the exact quirky energy that it called for. The ensemble as a whole did a wonderful job keeping consistent facial expressions and characterizations while there were many different moments happening on stage.

The costumes were done by Madison Mishkin, Maya Petrea, Andrea Yanez, and Ashley Cole. The progression and evolution of the garments added to the overall atmosphere of the production. Coupled with the props done by Cameron Cooper, Sammy Hawa, and Chloe Munoz, the technical aspects of the show were executed almost perfectly.

Love can come from anywhere and achieve anything, but that can lead to trouble. Cardinal Gibbons production of “The Apple Tree” showcased three separate but similar stories and served as a reminder to weigh your options carefully!

*** *** ***

By Abigail Alder of North Broward Preparatory School

Be tempted and become “a member of this diversified, curious, fascinating, bountiful, beautiful-beautiful, world” in Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of “The Apple Tree.”

“The Apple Tree” is a musical comedy written and composed by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, with contributions from Jerome Coopersmith. Making its Broadway debut in 1966, “The Apple Tree” was a hit with seven Tony Awards nominations. Four decades later, taking a second bite of the apple, the show received a nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. Audiences responded favorably to the three-act style. Although the vignettes have unrelated plots, each shares a similar sense of longing and temptation.

Act I offers an amusing take on biblical events inspired by Mark Twain’s narrative, “The Diaries of Adam and Eve.” Despite the man-woman personality conflicts, “Feelings” develop between Adam and Eve in the garden. Of course, an intelligent-sounding snake prompts Eve to taste the “Forbidden Fruit.” Act II is derived from Frank R. Stockton’s 1882 story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?” Captain Sanjar and Princess Barbara share a “Forbidden Love” until caught in an embrace. Sanjar’s punishment is to select a door blindly; behind one door awaits a vicious tiger, and the other holds a lovely servant girl to wed. Is Barbara unselfish enough to see Sanjar marry another by telling him which door saves his life? Act III is influenced by Jules Feiffer’s comic, “Passionella,” a Cinderella-like retelling with a chimney sweep (Ella) dreaming, “Oh, to Be a Movie Star.” With the television Godmother’s help, Ella becomes stunning part-time. The irony comes when love motivates Ella to play real, ga
rnering an additional plot twist.

Representing the world’s first man, Cameron Relicke (Adam) gave a masterful vocal performance and exhibited impeccable comedic timing. Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin (Eve) illuminated the stage with her vivacity and characterization. Together, their undeniable chemistry matured throughout their story’s arc. As the chimney sweep turned movie star, Sophia Hazleton (Ella/Passionella) personified her character by juxtaposing from timid to confident. Hazleton’s vocal prowess enhanced her transformative song, “Gorgeous.”

Anthony Avello (Snake) demonstrated his sublime comedic talents in delivery and physicality as the flirt of temptation. Avello’s commitment continued into the second act with compelling narrations as Balladeer. Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin (Tiger) creatively and effectively embodied the ravenous beast. The ensemble’s verve sometimes waned, but the cast’s choreography sustained a general consistency.

The technical elements complemented the bold characters’ and campy style. The hair and makeup designing duo, Julia Dasilva and Julia Gambello, achieved a glamorous apex with Ella’s bouncing curls and Marilyn Monroe-style makeup. Despite a few costume inconsistencies, others were spot-on, like Snake’s dapper attire. Marketing and Publicity, by Amanda Jones, included innovative social media cast features and thoughtful theming.

From humanity’s rocky beginnings to forbidden love and a part-time movie star, Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of “The Apple Tree” exposes how desires and decisions shape a person’s character. As Adam sang in act one, “If I’m weary of the world outside me, I can always take a good look in.”

*** *** ***

By Ava Chen of J.P. Taravella High School

Love has taken on many forms, dating all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden or further down the timeline where a single opening of a door decides your fate. In Cardinal Gibbons production of “The Apple Tree”, it explores the different concepts of love and how it is the driven force that distracts one from seeing what they truly want.

With music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, this 3-act show hit the stage, debuting on Broadway October 18th, 1966 at the Shubert Theatre. Together, Bock and Harnick made the book with contributions of Jerome Coopersmith. The show consists of three different storylines that share a common theme where a character believes that they want something but once they’ve obtained it, they realize it wasn’t really what they wanted. They explore this theme with each storyline being told in the three acts, with the first act telling Mark Twain’s diaries of Adam and Eve, the second act being based on Frank R. Stockton’s The Lady or The Tiger, and the third being based on Jules Feiffer’s Passionella, a twist on the classic Cinderella story.

Starting up the show in Act One, Beatriz Arevalo-Medellin had a compelling performance portraying Eve. She had very engaging physicality that pushed the essence of her character being innocent and vibrant. She had good energy for Cameron Relicke, portraying Adam, to build off of as he plays opposite of her. He demonstrated good contrast from Eve with him embodying the character with his annoyed, angry tendencies. Shifting to more modern times, playing Passionella/Ella in Act three, Sophia Hazleton shined on the stage, showcasing a clear distinction between Ella, a geeky chimney sweep, and Passionella, a luxurious movie star. She obtained good breath control and clear-cut notes that chimney swept us off our feet!

Anthony Avello, portraying Balladeer in Act Two and Snake Act One, developed humorous and compelling characters with his developed characterization. Avello showed vocal and emotional commitment to his roles with the Balladeer being comical, contrasting from his enticing, luring Snake. In Act One, as the Snake, he helped move the story along swiftly him creating good chemistry with Arevalo-Medellin to show his persuasion and charm.

Props, by Cameron Cooper, Sammy Hawa, and Chloe Munoz, accentuated the style of comedy used throughout the three acts. Considering the different time periods in each act, the props were appropriate and mostly held purpose to its use within a scene. At times, the props were dangerous, especially in Act Two with the sword used by Captain Sanjar and the whip used by Princess Barbara. Despite this challenge, the props visually enhanced the show and helped carry out the story of the three acts.

Cardinal Gibbons High School’s production of “The Apple Tree” told three stories that revealed to us a “Beautiful, Beautiful World” that taught us the different forms of love and the discovery of its true nature.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Addams Family at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School on Sunday, 11/7/2021.


By Zoe Tibbs of Calvary Christian Academy

When you’re an Addams, sorrow is glorious, torture is enjoyable, and death is the exemplar of excitement. So on this special night, beneath our family tree, we summon our beloved ancestors: the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School cast of The Adams family.

Created by the torture-obsessed Charles Addams, or “Chas Addams,” The Addams Family began as a single-panel pantomime cartoon in The New Yorker in 1938. The iconic family has since starred in over a dozen movies, TV shows, video games, a soon-to-be Netflix series, and an award-winning musical. Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the show premiered on Broadway in 2010 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The cast took their final bows on December 31, 2011, with over 722 performances and $62 million in revenue. Giving new meaning to “till death do us part,” this marvelously morbid musical follows the somber yet comical lives of the cherished Addams family. Only this time, little Wednesday Addams has grown up and has fallen deeply in…love?

There’s one thing everyone needs but so few have. No, it’s not affordable health care; it’s Cameron Wasteney as Gomez Addams. This polished yet whimsical man brought unbreakable energy to the stage. Wasteney shared a deathly passion and chemistry with everyone in the cast – especially his daughter, Wednesday. Wednesday Addams was portrayed by Liana Genao – a charming, irreplaceable bundle of joy…or bundle of malice. Illustrating a heart in confusion, Genao gave a chilling performance of “Pulled,” with highly commendable vocals and characterization. Genao was so moving, she really could be Thursday before you know it.

It’s no secret that Kennedy Zinkler (Pugsley Addams) has a beautiful singing voice. Zinkler achieved extensive vocal range and control while singing “What If,” truly taking the audience’s breath away. Just around the corner, Kaylee Ramos filled the role of Alice Beineke like no other. Clearly demonstrating the contrast between the masked and real Alice, Ramos manifested a significant range of emotion and personality – full disclosure.

Of course, what would a show be without a crew? With bewitching choreography, frightening makeup, and unique outfits, all technical elements were designed with a commendable level of detail and executed brilliantly. Despite some slight mishaps here and there, the team really went above and beyond to bring this musical to life.

Pulling the audience in a new direction, the ensemble flourished with their never-dying energy and characterization. Zlata Neshtenko was one of those who undoubtedly stood out in her role as an Ancestor. Her consistent physicalities and gestures perfectly captured the essence of the living dead. Even though the ancestors’ characters were “lifeless,” each clan member gave individual life to this production, all displaying their own traits while the ensemble as a whole continued to carry a unified effect.

With rich vocals and dance moves that made every performer shine on stage, this cast proved truly something to die for. Creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky, they’re the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School cast of The Addams Family.

*** *** ***

By Makayla Whelchel of North Broward Preparatory School

Question: what sort of family lives in a debatably haunted mansion in the middle of Central Park, has a serious problem with the color yellow, and dances on their ancestors’ graves for fun? And, more importantly, what happens when a daughter from a family like that falls in love with a simple, normal boy? Answer: Total chaos. Welcome to “The Addams Family.”

With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, “The Addams Family” follows the lives of the quirky, gothic, and morbidly funny Addams family as they collide with the (mostly) normal Beineke family for a dinner party gone wrong. The two families have been brought together by their love-stricken eldest children for a hilarious, unforgettable try to have “One Normal Night.”

Playing the endlessly amusing and perpetually people-pleasing father of the family, Gomez Addams, Cameron Wasteney brought a true presence to the stage. His comedic timing was extraordinary, his accent flawless, his physicality commendable. Wasteney took advantage of not only his stomach-shaking lines but also the small, unscripted moments in the show to truly showcase all aspects of his character. He had commendable chemistry with many of his fellow actors, most notably Wednesday and Morticia Addams, played by Liana Genao and Katie Christianson respectively. The father-daughter dynamic in “Happy Sad” was a beautifully tender moment between the two. Christianson also played her character superbly well, quite a feat considering she also choreographed the entirety of the production’s dance numbers. This multi-talented actress created a believable and humorous character while also maintaining stellar vocals throughout the show.

However, no show is complete without its cast of quirky and memorable supporting roles. From a pop-culture-referencing grandmother (Alexi Arocho) to the Grim Reaper itself (Anthony St. Germain), The Addams Family delivered many noteworthy side characters, one of which was the Addams’s undecidedly dead butler, Lurch, portrayed by Sean Regan. Regan used his hilariously stoic character to the fullest extent, capitalizing on comedic timing and surprising everyone with his vocal solo in the final number “Move Toward the Darkness.” The Addams Ancestors also worked phenomenally as an ensemble: together they brought their ‘dead-ness’ alive with jolting steps and haunting harmonies.

As a whole, the entire production was show-stopping extraordinary. The entire cast had fantastic chemistry, wonderful acting, exceptional vocals, and the lighting only added to and enhanced the production. There were some minor issues with some slightly too-quick pacing of scenes, as well as a few cast members letting their character slip slightly when they began to sing, but overall it was a performance so good it would have brought a smile to Lurch’s face.

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” “Trapped” the audience in its delightfully macabre world, leaving everyone hoping that more tales of family, love, and vaguely morbid humor are “Just Around the Corner.”

*** *** ***

By Annie Sudler of North Broward Preparatory School

Death.  Decay.  Dismemberment.  Dinner parties.  The most horrifying things known to man are taken on with little hesitation by the marvelously morbid Addams Family as they attempt one singular day of normalcy in one family member’s pursuit of true love. Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s recent production of “The Addams Family” was a hilariously heartwarming story of family, love, and (of course) the undead.

First appearing on Broadway in 2010, “The Addams Family” rose in popularity after a rocky start thanks to its star-studded cast (led by Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth) and recognizable characters.  Inspired by the Charles Addams comics of the same name, “The Addams Family” musical tells the story of the titular family’s struggle to feign being ordinary when Wednesday Addams brings home her boyfriend, a woefully normal Ohioan named Lucas Beineke, to meet the family.

Leading the family are Gomez and Morticia Addams, who were played by Cameron Wasteney and Katie Christianson, respectively. Both actors gave incredible performances, especially on the fronts of accent work for Wasteney and dancing for Christianson, but what truly sold the actors’ roles was their chemistry with one another. Each moment the pair had together had the passion and dark humor the characters are famous for perfectly interwoven, making for a thoroughly engaging and entertaining experience. These moments of insanely well-committed character interactions weren’t just with each other, however; the pair continued to wow in their interactions with other characters. Most notably, the scenes between either of the parents and their daughter Wednesday Addams (played by Liana Genao) also carried with it that same level of understanding of the characters. Other notable performances were given by Robert Mason Messingschlager (Lucas Beineke) and Kaylee Ramos (Alice Beineke).  Mes
singschlager’s scenes with other performers (especially when opposite Genao) were earnest and fully committed, and Ramos’ beautiful voice truly shone, especially in the song “Full Disclosure.”

The show’s technical elements were on the same level of professionalism as its cast. The choreography, created by Katie Christianson, brought a fun energy to the show, especially in the group numbers in which the large ensemble danced. The lighting (all designed and controlled by students Alex Davis, Andrew Maione, Eva Davis, and Manu Gomez) was equally as impactful. The creative designs added enormously to the show, as each lighting design was not only used to light the stage, but rather to really tell the story through providing emotion and ambiance.

Creepy, spooky, and altogether ooky, each member of the Addams Family (living, deceased, or otherwise) reminds audiences that no matter who someone is or how they act, it’s never impossible for love to appear in the most unlikely places. Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” truly brought that message to the forefront with their magnificently macabre characters that were all so wonderfully brought to life by the talented cast.

*** *** ***

By Cristian Velasquez of Cypress Bay High School

What is normal for the spider is a calamity for the fly. Likewise, while darkness, death, and unspeakable sorrow may be the dream for one family, it may be a nightmare for another. Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” comically captures how one little secret, an informal dinner, and familial intricacies can lead to anything but “One Normal Night.”

Inspired by Charles Addams’ gothic characters from his single-panel gag cartoons of the same name, “The Addams Family” premiered on Broadway in 2010. With a book written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics written by Andrew Lippa, this blood-curdling musical comedy follows the impulsive and morbid Wednesday Addams, who has fallen in love with the rational Ohioan Lucas Beineke. After confiding in her father that she is engaged, he must keep the secret from her mother until one fateful night when dinner is hosted, secrets are disclosed, and relationships are tested.

Embodying the charming and romantic Gomez Addams, Cameron Wasteney flawlessly captured the charismatic essence of his character through his unwavering energy and impeccable comedic abilities. Wasteney remained consistent in his accent, achieving an engaging performance. As Gomez’s bewitching wife, Morticia Addams, Katie Christianson effortlessly captured the bold physicality and commanding presence of the Addams matriarch. Wasteney and Christianson displayed remarkable chemistry in their passionate duet “Tango De Amor.”

With a belt as clean as a shot from her crossbow, Liana Genao as Wednesday Addams showcased powerful and invigorating vocals, most notable in her song “Pulled.” Genao achieved genuine chemistry with Wasteney, developing a sincere father-daughter connection. Kaylee Ramos portrayed the cheery Alice Beineke. Ramos additionally bolstered impressive vocal abilities and exhibited an exceptional character arc throughout the production.

Although there was a disparity between the difficulty of the choreography and the level of dancing capabilities, the ensemble of the show expressed a distinct commitment to their characters, remaining consistent in their ghostly physicality. An additional standout performance was that of Kennedy Zinkler as the strange trouble-maker, Pugsley. Zinkler delivered crisp vocals, most prominent in her solo “What If.”

The technical facets of the production assisted in establishing the supernatural world of the living, dead, and undecided. The detailed and intricate costumes and makeup brought each character to life. Despite a few sound inconsistencies, stage management should be commended for their accuracy on the numerous cues throughout the production. The dynamic lighting established the mood of each scene throughout the performance and contributed to the mysterious and cryptic ambiance of the Addams estate.

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” proves that normal is simply an illusion and reveals that if we neglect the fear of uncertainty and move towards the darkness, we may discover the brilliance of love in our lives along the way.

*** *** ***

By Roie Dahan of American Heritage School

As the curtain rises, a foreboding fog seeps on stage, and a haunting chorus reveals none other than the freakiest family of all: they’re alive! Well, partially. Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” proved to be a ghoulishly good time full of macabre musical numbers, howls of laughter, and the iconic Addams clan.

With a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, “The Addams Family” revives Charles Addams’ timeless comic caricatures onto the stage. When Wednesday Addams falls in love with commoner Lucas Beineke, the two families squabble to find common ground while all hell breaks loose- quite literally. Since opening on Broadway in April 2010, the show has become one of the most highly produced musicals in the country.

Playing the suave Latin patriarch, Cameron Wasteney vividly brought Gomez Addams to life. His impeccable comedic timing garnered countless laughs, and his consistent Spanish accent grounded him in the over-the-top character. As Gomez’s “drop-dead” gorgeous wife Morticia, Katie Christianson’s tantalizing physicality and ostentatious vocals effectively portrayed the icy seductress. As a couple, there was no denying Wasteney and Christianson’s infectious chemistry, especially evident in “Tango De Amor” as the two love birds glided across the graveyard.

Liana Genao played the strong-willed Wednesday Addams commendably. Genao sported immense vocal prowess, and showcased it effectively through songs such as “Pulled” and “One Normal Night.” Robert Mason Messingschlager’s Lucas Beineke proved to be a brilliant partner for Genao’s Wednesday: their harmonious conjunction shone through in numbers like “Crazier Than You.” Other standouts included Kaylee Ramos as Alice Beineke, who demonstrated exceptional vocal power and dynamics, and Kennedy Zinkler as Pugsley Addams, whose vocal range was one to envy.

The ensemble of Addams Ancestors must be commended for their engaging energy and character differentiations. Not only did each ensemble member exhibit commitment and involvement, the hair, makeup, and costume teams did a stupendous job at giving each character a distinct yet aesthetic identity, defined by pale makeup looks and period costumes. Also of note is Katie Christianson’s commitment to both performing in and choreographing the production, a demanding yet successful undertaking. Her work was especially notable in “Just Around the Corner,” where adept ensemble work, stunning choreo, and Christianson’s own remarkable performance capabilities made for a show-stopping experience.

As the sound of deathly harmonies intertwined with Spanish castanet rhythms faded to black, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School’s production of “The Addams Family” left audiences “Mov[ing] Toward the Darkness,” enthralled yet again by the lovable shenanigans of the “creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky” Addams family.

*** *** ***

Reviews of The Glass Menagerie at Coral Glades High School on Friday, 10/29/2021.


By Sofia Fernandez of Calvary Christian Academy

Transported into “an illusion that has the appearance of truth”, Coral Glades High School’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” allowed the audience to take part in this heart-rendering recollection of reality’s difficulties with the yearn to escape.

Written by Tennessee Williams, “The Glass Menagerie” is a memory play that first debuted in Chicago in 1944. Despite beginners’ difficulty, aid and ardor from critics Ashton Stevens and Claudia Cassidy contributed to its Broadway debut in 1945 at The Playhouse Theatre. Throughout this production, autobiographical elements are incorporated and reflected by the characters. “The Glass Menagerie” follows the memory of Tom Wingfield as he recalls his last interactions with his mother Amanda and older sister Laura as they seek a gentleman caller for Laura.

Portraying Southern belle Amanda Wingfield, Heidi Gruenbaum delivered an unforgettable performance. She was very articulate despite her strong southern accent, allowing clear projection for the audience. Her deeper connection to Amanda’s emotions was evident as she portrayed her internal struggles, developing them throughout the show, leading to the climax. Playing her son Tom Wingfield, Joshua Simon conveyed the longing for independence and escapism through even his slight mannerisms. He also displayed a distinct shift between being the narrator and acting in the memory, allowing differentiation as he acted. Being the lead man in a show is not an easy feat, but he took it on with ease while also maintaining his positions as stage manager alongside Anna-Sophia Leon, lighting designer, set designer, and a member of the set team.

Laura Wingfield, the meek and ill daughter of Amanda who finds security in her glass menagerie, was played by Emma Tessier. How she interacted with each character outwardly displayed the internal conflict she struggled with, especially as Laura slowly opened up to Jim O’Conner (Zachary Krouch). Krouch also brought relatability and a comedic element to this production. Although there was a lack of spatial awareness and an understanding of the beats overall, the consistent pacing between all actors provided engagement for the audience resulting in an extremely enjoyable performance.

The technological aspects of the production strongly contributed to the overall “dream” feeling of the play, such as through the minimalist set and harsh white lighting. Though at times they experienced slight hiccups, the overall sound was very clear with additional music added occasionally to support the symbolism audibly. This was evident when the upbeat music played when Tom described the “movies”, alluding to the freedom he longed for. Secondly, slower music was played whenever glass was mentioned, which could be interpreted as an escape from the harsh reality the Wingfields live in for Laura. The sound and lighting designers truly added more to the underlying symbolism with their technological additions.

Coral Glades High School’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” was as touching as it was astounding, creating a story as beautiful and intricate as glass.

*** *** ***

By Abigail Alder of North Broward Preparatory School

If wishing on the moon could change a family’s fate, the Wingfields would have lived without any pretense, rather than a need to reinvent themselves or exist within “the pleasant disguise of illusion.” Witness the Wingfield’s private struggles during the Great Depression in Coral Glades High School’s production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Considered one of the most significant works of American literature, “The Glass Menagerie,” written by renowned playwright Tennessee Williams, premiered on Broadway in 1945. The memory play’s semi-autobiographical aspects provide a deeper look into Williams’s relationships. The story follows the Wingfield family, who have adopted an unrealistic outlook with a fabricated past and an impossible future. Amanda Wingfield, the overbearing matriarch, lives vicariously through her two young adult offspring. Amanda believes marriage is a woman’s duty and eagerly tries to marry off her mentally and physically handicapped daughter, Laura. Amanda’s dissatisfied son, Tom, carries the financial burden as the man of the household but longs for a life of adventure. Per his mother’s insistence, Tom invites a work acquaintance to dinner. Laura and the gentleman caller enjoy each other’s company, prompting Laura to share her collection of glass animal figurines with him. The family anticipates
a match until he reveals an engagement to someone else, destroying all chances of normalcy. When Laura blows the apartment’s candles out, the darkness represents a death-like finality as Tom walks out the door.

Southern and stern, Heidi Gruenbaum (Amanda Wingfield) commanded the stage as the critical mother unwilling to face reality. She added believability to the role as the intimidating matriarch, delivering barbs with a rich southern drawl. Joshua Simon (Tom Wingfield) led audiences through the show with a charming self-awareness. He conveyed the character’s longing to shed responsibilities in search of adventures beyond the movies. Gruenbaum and Simon’s chemistry continued to develop throughout the play, culminating in an eruptive mother and son argument from a lifetime of pent-up anger.

Emma Tessier (Laura Wingfield) portrayed the severely shy sister and daughter with engaging reactions to the tense atmosphere. Tessier rose to the challenge of depicting a neurodivergent character. The long-awaited gentleman caller, Zachary Krouch (Jim O’Conner), brought fresh energy to the stage with his unassuming and awkward characterization. Together, Tessier and Krouch shared an encounter that felt genuine. Though some moments lacked tonal shifts, the cast did a great job maintaining a consistent pace.

Innovative lighting design by Joshua Simon and Luciana Chavez enhanced the play’s dreamscape. Most notably, their choice to reflect the character’s mood with corresponding colors added to the overall ambiance. Casting the unlit candelabras in a warm light achieved the illusion in an impactful and clever way. The sound ran relatively smoothly in reference to microphones and scene underscoring. Despite some inefficiencies during scene changes, the technical elements aided in producing a dreamy haze.

Coral Glades High School’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” carries a timeless coming-of-age relevance, encompassing the yearning for a different life while questioning what defines a home.

*** *** ***

By Bailey Vergara of American Heritage School

As the lights dim, the audience’s eyes fixate on the curtain in front of them. However, instead of the grand flourish of an opening curtain, they see a singular character make his way from the side of the theater up onto the stage. Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” has started like this since the play first opened in 1944, but Coral Glades High School put their own original spin on this timeless classic, delighting and impressing their eager audience.

Considered one of America’s greatest plays, “The Glass Menagerie”, set in the 1930s, addresses the complicated family dynamic between Tom Wingfield, a man who feels suffocated by his adventureless life, his manipulative mother, Amanda, and his quiet sister, Laura. Amanda’s stubborn nature and insistence on finding Laura a suitor leads to a clash that changes the family’s lives forever. This memory play is based heavily on aspects of Williams’ own life: his melodramatic and attention-seeking mother, his fragile sister Rose, and the main character himself, who shares both Williams’ love of writing and his name.

Amanda Wingfield is quite a difficult character to play, but Heidi Gruenbaum did it brilliantly, nailing the comedic aspects of the role and captivating the audience’s attention at all times with her bold and cheery stage presence. She brought a unique characterization to the role, portraying both Amanda’s need for attention and her grief, realistically and masterfully. Joshua Simon wowed the audience as Tom, and did an excellent job highlighting the contrast between the character’s role as narrator of and participant in the scenes with his stunning vocality.

Emma Tessier magnificently executed the role of Laura, and she did an excellent job using body language to portray the character’s hesitancy to open up to others. Her chemistry with the hilarious Jim O’Conner, played by Zachary Krouch, contributed strongly to the emotional weight of the show while still feeling truly authentic.

The lighting was certainly a defining element of the show, and though some blackouts were very long, the use of color during scenes really brought out the dreamlike quality of the show. The music and sound effects, done by Sashah Senat, helped emphasize the hazy atmosphere as well, and the sets, though not very dreamlike, were also excellently crafted. Commendation should be given to the persistence and technique of the talented crew.

Coral Glades High School’s production of the Tennessee Williams classic “The Glass Menagerie” was insightful and well-done. When the audience left, they were truly able to appreciate the “gaiety of the occasion.”

*** *** ***

By Josie Brown of South Plantation High School

Without what makes us special, who are we? In “The Glass Menagerie,” performed by Coral Glades High School, we follow a tragic series of events as told through the memories of Tom Wingfield. In a haunting progression of recollection, the story of the Wingfields unfolds.

“The Glass Menagerie,” a memory play written by Tennessee Williams, premiering in 1944 in Chicago and later moving to Broadway to win the New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award in 1945. The play, based off of the life of Tennessee Williams himself, is of the dramatic tale of Tom and his family; of his mother Amanda, whose obsession with her crippled and anxious daughter acquiring a suitor ends up shattering to pieces, and of his sister, Laura, who has her wings clipped by the very boy she had loved so deeply in the past. In the end, Tom no longer can withstand the suffocating household, and leaves to never return- just as his father had.

Coral Glades’ performance was resonant in its portrayal of mental illness and how it occupies the mind. Every actor fully explores the set, creating a wonderful sense of spatial awareness. While physicality could have been applied in a more realistic manner, it is atoned for by the characters’ expressions and line delivery.

Amanda, played by Heidi Gruenbaum, is a Mississippi-born, country-loving woman. This is explicitly shown in the accent given to her character, which is strong but in avoidance of caricature. In this balance, Heidi proved successful in rendering Amanda, not as a stock character, but as a woman with depth. In addition to this, Heidi maintained this accent throughout the play and was consistent with her energy. In honorable mention is Emma Tessier as Laura, who was truly able to portray her character through reactive and expressive body language. In her conversation with Jim O’Connor, her progression of emotions was clearly visible to the eye, providing an incredibly realistic performance.

Providing a beautifully abstract set is Joshua Simon, Anna-Sophia, and Finn Anido, whose simplistic design and featured furniture focused attention on the characters and provided the hazy, slightly unclear state of Tom’s mind. The attention to detail is remarkable and clever, as the walls of the set had remained bare as it was taken into consideration that the Wingfields could not afford wallpaper. Sasha Senat is responsible for sound, and with the help of JPT tech students, she maintained perfect volume levels and fitting music during scenes and scene changes. Although at some points the music was a bit discordant, overall timing was exact. Lighting was done by Joshua Simon and Luciana Chavez, who implemented an incredible display of colors portraying heavy emotions in scenes throughout the play.

This moving performance effortlessly carries and supports heavy themes in a lifelike way that reverberate an important message. Anything but a “blessing in disguise,” the misfortune faced by Laura’s glass unicorn reminds you just how fragile your own horn is.

*** *** ***

By Roie Dahan of American Heritage School

A family dynamic, much like a glass figurine, is very fragile- even just one crack in the foundation can cause the whole to shatter and fragment. Such is the case in Coral Glades High School’s production of “The Glass Menagerie,” where even glue couldn’t put the Wingfields back together.

Regarded as the play that launched renowned playwright Tennessee Williams from obscurity to stardom, “The Glass Menagerie” recounts the tumultuous family life of Tom (Joshua Simon), Amanda (Heidi Gruenbaum), and Laura Wingfield (Emma Tessier) in their dingy 1930’s St. Louis apartment. Williams wrote “The Glass Menagerie” as a memory play, meaning that it contains autobiographical elements- Tom represents Williams himself, while Amanda and Laura represent his mother and neurodivergent sister, respectively. The play opened on Broadway in 1945, and has since seen countless more productions and adaptations.

Playing Tom Wingfield, Joshua Simon effectively conveyed the character’s adventurous and rebellious attitude, and adeptly contrasted between the character’s narrative and caricature facets. Heidi Gruenbaum played the tightly-wound Amanda laudably. She was able to ground the character’s melodramatic nature with a complex and deep interior through a consistent accent and formidable stage presence. As the selfish dreamer and has-been Southern Belle, Simon and Gruenbaum carried a fantastic tentious chemistry opposite one another; they were even able to interject comedy into moments of high contention.

Emma Tessier portrayed Laura Wingfield with the delicacy and fragility demanded of the role. Her character especially shined in Act 2 through the introduction of Jim O’Conner (Zachary Krouch). Krouch, while bringing a charming awkwardness to O’Conner himself, worked seamlessly as a foil to Tessier’s Laura: their moments of intimacy and vulnerability seemed undeniably real. Tessier’s body language effectively showed her character’s mood fluctuations, and Krouch’s trepidatious maturity made him more accessible to the audience. While somewhat struggling with climatic levels and tone differentiation, there was no denying the cast’s overall chemistry and engaging collaboration.

Technically speaking, Luciana Chavez and Joshua Simon commendably used lighting for symbolic purposes: lights would change hue and intensity to reflect mood shifts, and the photo of Tom’s father would be lit at times of figurative significance. Although music and microphone levels were jarring at points, Sashah Senat’s music choice effectively corresponded to the action and tones of the play. The set team constructed an ample set for the play’s context, albeit a simple one. Also of note is Simon’s commitment to both acting a role and stage managing, which proved to be a huge undertaking that ultimately worked.

Although Tennessee Williams wrote “The Glass Menagerie” in 1944, its themes of familial tensions, converging desires, and the fundamental chase of escape aren’t lost on today’s society. Wiliams’ timeless work, brought to life once more by Coral Glades High School, reminds us that within all the wild commotion and tumults of life, therein lies a unique beauty and love, much like Laura’s ornate menagerie of glass animals amidst the quarrelsome Wingfield household.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Catch Me if You Can at North Broward Preparatory School on Friday, 10/22/2021.


By Caroline Eaton of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Living a life on the pursued side of a wild goose chase is a life not frequently sought after by the common man. Meet Frank Abagnale Jr.: not the common man. North Broward Preparatory School’s “Catch Me If You Can” investigates the choice between seeking a life lived on the edge or a life without crime.

Deriving its origins from Frank Abagnale Jr.’s autobiography and the star-studded 2002 movie of the same name, “Catch Me If You Can” premiered on Broadway in 2011. This musical comedy follows the cunning, yet ingenious, criminal adventures of the high school-aged Frank Abagnale Jr. as he pursues his fondness for conning. While on the run, Abagnale Jr. falls in love and desires to settle down, giving the FBI agent who’s been chasing him for years a chance to finally catch up.

Embodying the suave and charmingly deceitful Frank Abagnale Jr., Michael Norman delivered an incredible performance through his expansive vocal range and enticing physicality. Norman embraced Abagnale Jr.’s slick nature and ever-changing professions with ease, radiating confidence with each disparate role- be it pilot or substitute teachers. Norman’s compatibility with his various counterparts, whether through playfulness with the FBI or fervent admiration for his father, furthered his evident versatility. As Abagnale Jr.’s ultimate love, Brenda Strong, was Sasha Geisser, who effortlessly captured the sincerity and light-hearted aura of the young nurse. Geisser’s remarkable vocal ability in “Fly, Fly Away” generated a palpable warmth and charismatic quality in Brenda.

Adam Fournel portrayed the hardy FBI agent Carl Hanratty, conveying a strong performance by means of his rich, jazz-infused voice and refined demeanor. Fournel impressively managed Hanratty’s difficult character progression, balancing high-energy musical numbers with melodramatic ballads. Completing the unlikely duo of Hanratty (Fournel) and Frank Abagnale Sr. was Matthew Feinstein. Fournel and Feinstein’s eclectic energy in “Little Boy Be A Man” exuded an engaging candid energy. Feinstein succeeded in depicting the father figure to Norman, expressing a mature stature that paralleled Abagnale Sr.’s older age and wisdom.

Although oftentimes lacking energy and an apparent confidence in learned choreography, the ensemble of “Catch Me If You Can” added to the bright spirit and gaiety of the production. Most notably, however, were Ally Babincak and Abigail Alder’s contributions to the ensemble; both performers brilliantly lit up the stage with unfaltering stamina and captivating facials.

The technical elements of the show assisted in establishing the multitude of settings. With exception to a few improperly fitted outfits, the costumes, by Jasmine Iacullo, aided the visual interpretations of the various professions Abagnale Jr. inhabits. The marketing and publicity, organized by Abigail Alder, was cleverly crafted in the form of detailed poster designs and video advertisements, as well as attractive social media posts.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Catch Me If You Can” undoubtedly shows that although a criminal may feel on top of the world, they will inevitably accept the truth that “the law sometimes sleeps, it never dies” – Frank Abagnale Jr.

*** *** ***

By Em Fontanet of J.P. Taravella High School

Pack your bags, prepare for takeoff, and enjoy your travel to North Broward Preparatory School’s captivating production of “Catch Me If You Can.” This musical comedy is a fun, flight-filled criminal love story, that shows the concrete consequences of being a doctor in love, a pilot on the run, and a lawyer in disguise. As we begin our descent into a con-man’s escape, we soar through a story told with laughs, love, and lawbreaking.

With music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Whitman, this whimsical comedy first premiered at the Neil Simon Theatre on April 10, 2011. Based on the 2002 movie adaptation of the same name, “Catch Me If You Can” follows a child-like, yet charismatic crook, Frank Abagnale Jr., as he flies away from love and larceny. In this 1960’s upbeat melodrama, a criminal on the run learns a life lesson a little too late when he is forced to face the truth about his fatal and fraudulent behaviors.

The charming conman Frank Abagnale Jr, portrayed by Michael Norman, accurately and astonishingly conveyed his comedic, youthful and suave personality. Norman demonstrated exceptional chemistry with all his onstage partners, specifically Adam Fournel, who portrayed Carl Hanratty. Fournel showcased exquisite understanding of the agent’s range, switching between a determined detective and a simple man longing for genuine connection. With stellar vocals and immaculate comedic timing, both actors had continually dynamic performances.

Small town nurse Brenda Strong was brilliantly embodied by Sasha Geisser. Her marvelous vocals and brilliant facial expressions opened a path for her performance to soar above and beyond.  Her emotions felt truly in touch with her character, aiding in her realistic chemistry with Norman and the rest of the Strong family. Frank Jr.’s role model and razor-sharp father, Frank Abagnale Sr., was depicted by the masterful Matthew Feinstein. His stand-out physicality and vocals gave a believable and authentic performance. The father-son bond captivated the stage throughout woebegone moments and witty musical numbers, such as the lesson learned through song: Just make “Butter Outta Cream.”

The spirited ensemble of lively dancers displayed consistently high energy while sustaining tight harmonies, enthusiastic choreography, and facial expressions. Besides an uncommon fumble or two, the dazzling showgirls and sassy stewards maintained a level of professionalism with each character they embodied.

Costumes, by Jasmine Iacullo, was the final touch needed to complete this smooth ride. Each cast member underwent many quick changes, impressively pulled off flawlessly. The time period appropriate costumes aided in creating a 1960’s ambiance, which was only improved upon by the lighting and sound design of the musical. Although a few minor microphone cue issues, the impressive blending, and leveling done by sound were appreciated, as it allowed for the cast and live orchestra to mesh together seamlessly.

When one fake check too many turn crazy chaos into desperate decisions for love, you must be sure to follow “Doctors Orders” and don’t miss this engaging and endearing production of North Broward Preparatory School’s “Catch Me If You Can!”

*** *** ***
By Levi Cole of NSU University School

How could someone be a pilot, doctor, and lawyer right out of high school? Short answer: they lie. If everyone believes the lie, then the conman can reap all the benefits. The protagonist of North Broward Preparatory School’s “Catch Me If You Can” does exactly that.

Based on the autobiography and film of the same name, “Catch Me If You Can’s” narrative follows charming con man Frank Abagnale Jr., and the FBI agents hunting him down. In the 1960’s just after running away from home, Frank steals millions of dollars from banks in false checks and persuades the ignorant public into believing he’s a pilot, doctor, and lawyer all with the FBI hot on his trail. With book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the musical comedy debuted at the Neil Simon Theatre in April 2011.

As Frank Abagnale Jr., Michael Norman exuded endless energy, charisma, and charm. Norman’s characterization and physicality contributed to his successful portrayal of his character. Additionally, Norman’s vocals were consistently fantastic, as he showcased a wide range and pleasant tone. His chemistry with the other actors onstage, specifically Matthew Feinstein who played his father, was a pleasure to watch.

Portraying detective Carl Hanratty, a gritty veteran detective, was Adam Fournel. Fournel’s physicality and mannerisms boosted his character greatly. The most notable feature of Fournel’s performance was his vocals; his smooth deep tone specifically in “The Man Inside the Clues” was phenomenal and enhanced the production tremendously. Another standout vocalist was Sasha Geisser as Brenda Strong. Her solo “Fly, Fly Away”was sung flawlessly, an exemplary feat considering how vocally challenging the song is. In addition, Geisser’s comedic timing and overall character were superb. As Frank Abagnale Sr., Matthew Feinstein excellently portrayed a loving father figure and possessed a believable father/son dynamic with Frank Jr. Like his fellow actors, Feinstein’s vocals were impressive. Hannah Bauer as Carol Strong was a standout featured performer, as her comedic timing and stage presence were exceptional.

The ensemble worked excellently together. Despite some energy issues, the large ensemble was a pleasure to watch onstage. The featured dancers specifically were incredible, as they were expressive and engaged throughout the show. The FBI agents also had a wonderful comedic dynamic, as all the actors were engaged and worked well as a unit.

The technical components boosted this production tremendously. The costumes were impressive as the cast was large and each cast member had multiple costumes that fit each new chapter of the musical well. The makeup and hair are also to be commended, as it made the actors pop onstage and was well suited for the needs of this production.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Catch Me If You Can wonderfully told Frank Abagnale’s story “Live in Living Color”

*** *** ***
By Zoe Tibbs of Calvary Christian Academy

Some 16-year-old boys spend their time playing football. Others spend it by stealing 2.5 million dollars, posing as pilots, doctors, lawyers, and of course, Lutherans, all while making it home in time for dinner. So fasten your seatbelt to learn how as North Broward Prep takes off in their production of Catch Me If You Can.

Based on an autobiography by Frank Abagnale Jr., the story became popularized by the 2002 Steven Spielberg film “Catch Me If You Can”. Filmed in 147 locations in only 52 days. Nearly a decade later, Terrence McNally adapted the story into a four-time Tony-nominated musical in the Neil Simon Theatre. With a gross rate of $16,863,570, the cast took their final bow on September 4, 2011, with a total of 32 previews and 170 regular performances.

One of history’s best-known cat-and-mouse games, the true story of Catch Me If You Can follows the life of 16-year-old con boy Frank Abagnale, or Frank Williams, or Frank Connors, or was it William Frank? At any rate, he is determined to do whatever it takes to fly away from his troubles and chase his dreams; Even if it means playing a deadly game of make-believe. Becoming wanted in 6 continents, he strikes up the interest of lonesome FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who is set on putting the out-of-control child behind bars.

Michael Norman, as Frank Abagnale Jr., truly made butter out of cream with his stage presence and vocals. He brought immense energy to the stage, burning through the choreography as if it were dollar bills. Alongside him, Mattew Feinstein (Frank Abagnale Sr.) devoutly played his part to the very death. The pair held a strong connection with the whole cast and portrayed an extraordinary father-son relationship.

Of course, no show is ever complete without the comedic side characters. It would be near impossible not to laugh while watching the one and only Hannah Bauer as Carol Strong. Her stage presence, comedic timing, and booming voice were impeccable. Another unforgettable actress, Makayla Whelchel playing agent Dollar brought nothing but joy and laughter from the audience. Jesting from the second she stepped on stage to the moment off, Whelchel brought indelible energy and expressions through every move.

Both the ensemble and tech crews did a phenomenal job. Abigail Alder was one of those who undoubtedly stood out in her role of ensemble and Marketing and Publicity. The only things more on point than her movements and expressions were the tips of her handmade pins. The technical elements of the show were beautiful. From the live orchestra to the costumes and props, the crew shone through. Despite some slight upstaging and faltering energies throughout, the ensemble was also commendable, working their way through endless dance numbers.

North Broward Preparatory School’s production of Catch Me If You Can came to be nothing short of a million-dollar performance. With rich vocals and authenticity that made each performer shine on stage, they truly brought a smile to the audience’s faces.

*** *** ***
By Sydney Lotz of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Rushing around the world as a con artist proves to be no arduous task for one mischievous teenager. He must learn right from wrong and the importance of major events in his life. North Broward Preparatory School’s production of “Catch Me If You Can” follows the story of a vexatious boy with multiple identities, a detective attempting to defeat crime, and their never-ending chase across the globe to outsmart one another.

This musical comedy originated as a movie of the same name in 2002, and later debuted on Broadway in 2011. This production was greatly acknowledged and further nominated for 4 Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical, winning one for Best Actor in a Musical for Norbert Leo Butz. With a book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, “Catch Me If You Can” centers around the devious and remarkably charismatic Frank Abagnale Jr. Throughout the show Frank deals with family affairs, finding love, and searching for different, unique ways to escape the FBI.

Michael Norman embraced the challenging role of Frank Abagnale Jr. through his captivating vocals, comedic timing, and illustrious stage presence. He commanded the stage and proved prodigious chemistry with other cast members. This includes Frank’s love interest; the compassionate, innocent, and affectionate Brenda Strong (Sasha Geisser). Together, Norman and Geisser displayed the highs and lows of young love and captured the essence of both characters by showing a true connection even through their differences. Furthermore, Geisser excelled in her song, “Fly, Fly Away,” and embraced her character’s emotions through superb vocal techniques and cogent character choices.

Adam Fournel personified the meticulous antagonist, Carl Hanratty. Fournel displayed incredible vocalization and a playful yet earnest connection with the other agents. He carried a commendable performance throughout the entirety of the show, and developed sincere emotions in the finale, “Stuck Together (Strange But True).” Another meritorious performance was Hannah Bauer who played Carol Strong, Brenda’s comical and quirky mother. Bauer delivered an eminent, delightful, and unforgettable performance every single time she appeared on stage.

As an ensemble, the performers executed difficult harmonies, and challenging choreography. At times, some lost energy, but overall, they worked cohesively as a group and were pleasant to watch. Some actresses such as Ally Babincak, Jasmine Iacullo, and Abigail Alder stood out by presenting distinct expressions and unique characterization without ever missing a beat.

The costume department, run by Jasmine Iacullo, did an excellent job at representing the 60’s perfectly. The details such as the hints of purple in Frank Jr.’s costume to represent royalty were carefully and wonderfully implemented. Even though during some ensemble numbers the length of the skirts didn’t fit the choreography, they matched the style and presence of the ladies.

North Broward Preparatory School made the world never want to say “Goodbye” to their phenomenal production of “Catch Me If You Can.”

*** *** ***

Reviews of Xanadu at J.P. Taravella High School on Friday, 10/10/2021.


By Savannah Schwantes of Cooper City High School

Xanadu can be described as Zeus’s greatest gift: a euphoric place overflowing with beauty and divinity.  J.P. Taravella High School’s musical production of “Xanadu,” delivered a gift of parallel caliber.

With a book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics from Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, “Xanadu” is a high-spirited jukebox musical. Debuting in 2007 on Broadway, it received widespread recognition, including a Drama Desk Award for Best Musical and four Tony nominations in 2008. The story travels from Ancient Greece to Venice, California in the 1980’s as Clio the Muse must help Sonny Malone, a hopeless chalk artist. Through this quest, however, Clio, who presents herself as Kira, falls victim to forbidden love with Sonny, a mortal. As their relationship progresses, she puts herself in more threat of eternal damnation as punishment.

With compelling stage presence and a voice characteristic of the elegant demigod that she is, Fallon Collins expertly embodied Clio. Collins exhibited an outstanding vocal range while masterfully performing in roller skates throughout most of the show. Her romantic counterpart, Sonny Malone, was portrayed by Danny Landin. Landin presented admirable character commitment, completely personifying the slow-witted yet kind-hearted California dude.

Behind the ill-fated love spell were Melpomene and Calliope, played by Ava Chen and Jocelyn Gomez, respectively. In their captivating rendition of “Evil Woman,” their energy bounced off of each other and enthralled the audience as they brought an abundance of humor to the stage. Gomez consistently employed bold physicality in conjunction with a spirited character voice, making her a brilliant standout of the production. Also worthy of praise, is the presentation of the zealous but reminiscent businessman Danny Maguire by Andrew Emerson. His charisma and passion brought to life his character and it was evident that Emerson enjoyed performing.

The cast of “Xanadu” provided nothing short of a heavenly performance. The Muses executed transcendent harmonies, and simultaneously delivered energy higher than Mount Olympus. While there were times in which it seemed that they faltered from the intended stage pictures, they persisted as a cohesive unit to create an enthusiastic and a-“Muse”-ing production.

The technical elements elevated the show to an even greater extent. The hair and makeup crew’s dedication was apparent, as numerous wigs were fixed with proficiency and looked realistic. Despite there being moments in which sound cues were missed, it must be applauded that the sound stayed nearly perfect throughout all dance numbers. Creativity was distinct, especially in the props utilized. From an inflatable Pegasus to popcorn bags, the effective use of props heightened the performance.

The world has been “Suspended in Time” and J.P. Taravella High School’s colorful production of “Xanadu” reminds audiences of the “Magic” of live theater and encourages them to live their lives to the fullest.

*** *** ***

By Jacob Harris of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

What seems to be just a simple mural can epitomize your greatest ambitions; no matter who you are or what your story encompasses, a simplistic stroke of a paint brush encapsulates your potential. Whether you are an artist or an amateur, a mortal or immortal, or even a proficient roller skater skilled with the most astounding techniques, the “strange magic” that links society together is the ability to express yourself through art! J.P. Taravella High School’s sensational, “Xanadu” paints a picture of the prominence your craft can hold to your heart, and ultimately, convey your life story!

With music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, “Xanadu” was nominated for a total of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “Xanadu” tells the story of the Greek Muses and how their impact on society can change the course of one’s destiny; these mystical figures step out of the boundaries of their portrait to alter the life of a mortal, Sonny Malone.  As he anticipates it is time to take his own life, the emphasis of which Clio – the youngest of the Muses – influences, provides a step into a new direction for Malone. He embarks on the establishment of his spectacle to take place at, none other than, the “Xanadu”.

Fallon Collins embodied the role of Kira (Clio) with clear charisma and compelling vocals. Amidst Collins’ radiant stage presence, notable character arc, and skillful roller skating, her dedication to the stage was apparent. Danny Landin’s amusing portrayal of Sonny Malone created a drastic contrast towards the persona of the muses, invoking a sense of optimism and asserting exceptional comedic timing. Together, Collins and Landin’s chemistry thrived, principally throughout the finale, “Xanadu.”

Ava Chen and Jocelyn Gomez depicted the roles of Melpomene and Calliope; their eccentric personalities and mannerisms enhanced the quality of their characters, as they consistently applied unique choices to their performances. Overall, their powerful stage presence and balanced vocals prospered, notably throughout their showstopping duet, “Evil Woman.”

Collectively, the ensemble of Muses held a significant figure in telling this fantasy. Whether they were showcasing their dynamic harmonies, or even providing a sense of comedic relief, their distinct features to each of their portrayals kept the production authentic.

Despite minor technical faults, the production ran smoothly. The sets were constructed – representing Mount Olympus – utilizing intricate Greek columns. The hair and makeup crew, led by Aiden Scott, Jada Knighton, and Elisa Miniet exhibited immense attention to detail, allowing actors to further embrace the nature of their characters with their incredible designs.

Art is another approach to life where you can sketch the basis of your story. In your toughest moments when you feel “suspended in time,” art guides you as an outlet of expression; but when you least expect it, your designs will arise, right in front of your eyes! J.P. Taravella High School’s dazzling production of “Xanadu” puts the ‘muse’ in amusement, exemplifying the power of perseverance, “all over the world!”

*** *** ***

By Elena Ashburn of Cooper City High School

“Suddenly,” there is “Strange Magic” in the air. It must be “Xanadu!” JP Taravella High School’s performance of “Xanadu” meshed the worlds of Ancient Greece and 1980s California to create a dynamic musical with a deeper message about the importance of love and art to life.

“Xanadu” is a vibrant jukebox musical written by Douglas Carter Beane with music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Inspired by the classic 1980s movie of the same name, “Xanadu” follows the Ancient Greek Muse, Clio, as she helps sidewalk chalk artist, Sonny Malone, find inspiration and true love in the process! “Xanadu” won an Outer Critics Award for Best Musical and a Drama Desk Award for Best Book, and it was nominated for four Tonys, including Best Musical and Best Book.

Fallon Collins’ portrayal of Clio was just as superhuman as her demigoddess character. Her acting ability was remarkable and her vocals, enthralling and pristine, never faltered as she glided around the stage in roller skates. One of her most enchanting numbers was not performed on skates, but on the back of an inflatable pegasus as she mesmerized the audience with her range and vocal ability during her performance of “Suspended in Time.” Her counterpart, Danny Landin, wonderfully embodied the aloof, yet kind, Sonny Malone. He demonstrated an enviable mastery of comedic timing, and his jokes always warranted a chuckle from the audience.

Ava Chen as Melpomene and Jocelyn Gomez as Calliope were also standout actresses. The pair had compelling chemistry and impeccable comedic timing. Their presentation of “Evil Woman” was a fantastic example of their deep understanding of their roles in the show. They consistently complemented each other throughout the song, elevating the performance as a whole.

The ensemble of Muses was overall a cohesive group and a pleasure to watch. Although some of their formations were a bit jumbled at times, their vocal harmonies were heavenly. The effortless blending of all 7 voices showed true dedication and passion to their craft, and their energy as a group was as electrifying as Zeus’ lightning!

The technical elements of the show were exemplary. The makeup and hair crew did a fantastic job managing the 15 wigs used throughout the production and not once did an actor come on stage with a crooked wig, even after one of the show’s many quick changes or choreography-heavy numbers. Despite issues with moving set and prop pieces, the props crew did a tremendous job creating believable yet simple props, and the costume crew did a commendable job designing detailed outfits for each character that fit in the two contrasting worlds of the 1980s and Ancient Greece.

Like Zeus to Clio, JP Taravella High School truly gave the audience the gift of Xanadu to the audience by creating and sharing their art.

*** *** ***
By Caroline Eaton of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Blending together the seemingly unrelated realms of Greek mythology, 1940s diners, and neon roller rinks, the cast of J.P. Taravella’s “Xanadu” comically encapsulated this discordant and funky universe, skillfully skating their way through any lighting Zeus may throw their direction.

Inspired by the eccentric 1980 film of the same name, this whimsical musical premiered on Broadway in 2007, running for over 500 performances. With music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar and book by Douglas Carter Beane, “Xanadu” centers around the muse, Clio, and her adventures to the human world to inspire the troubled street artist, Sonny Malone. Jealous of Clio’s status as the leader of the muses, two of her muse sisters set out to curse their younger sister by forcing her to break one of Zeus’ rules: never fall in love with a mortal.

Embodying the extravagance of the roller skating, fake Australian muse, Fallon Collins embraced Kira (Clio) with a god-like grace. Collins displayed impressive vocal versatility in her swift accent changes, as well as in her expansive range, shown incredibly in “Suspended in Time.” She executed each vocally-challenging song with ease, all while gliding along the stage in roller skates, pulling off this tremendous feat without a single faltering. Countering the sophistication of this muse was Danny Landin, who successfully expressed the cheesy humor of the Californian artist, Sonny Malone, so clearly tapping into the comedy of the 80s. Landin commendably expressed Sonny’s blissful ignorance throughout the show while revealing moments of sincere thoughtfulness in his climaxed rescue of Kira.

Ava Chen and Jocelyn Gomez (Melpomene and Calliope, respectively) enthused the production with their additive comedic duo. Gomez’s sidekick-like rendition of Calliope hilariously complemented Chen’s larger-than-life personification of the Muse of Tragedy. Their amusing chemistry shined in “Evil Woman,” wonderfully expressing Chen and Gomez’s farcical enthusiasm in addition to their capable vocals.

Deriving energy from the Gods themselves, the Muses each exuded distinctive character choices that perfectly paralleled the disparateness of the true Nine Muses. This ensemble admirably conveyed the bright spirit of the 80’s, the derivative humor of the production, and the classical touches of Greek Mythology with poise and an obvious passion for their craft.

Technically, “Xanadu[”s]’ production was worthy of praise from Mount Olympus. With the exception of a few delays and distractions during scene transitions, the stage management crew exceptionally executed Sonny Malone’s roller skate quick change and Kira’s frequent costume changes between Clio, Kitty, and Kira. Considering the difficulty of a completely mic’d cast, the sound department did a phenomenal job of balancing sound levels and initiating sound cues on time. Tackling the feat of 15 wigs, the hair and makeup crew aided in the creation of recognizable differences in the multitude of characters played by individual cast members.

J.P. Taravella’s “Xanadu” contentedly brought the caricature-adjacent production to life, spreading laughter and joy “All Over the World” one roller-skating-Australian at a time.

*** *** ***

By Sarah Wyner of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

People roll through life on their proverbial skates missing the signs all around them. But even avoiding the traffic light, the coming storm, or the voice inside will lead to a different road. When that road bears a familiar name triggering the memory of someone special, it creates a whole new view. Stop, go, and maybe even change direction; signs are all around us in the realm of the human experience- to exercise freewill or let destiny unfold. Follow the rules and directions, or take a risk and follow your heart; one missed sign leads to another. The possibilities of life are proved infinite at JP Taravella’s fun-filled production of “Xanadu.”

Bringing us into the era of iconic leg warmers and groovy moves, while simultaneously poking fun at the ideals of Greek Mythology, “Xanadu” skated its way to Broadway in July 2007, receiving four Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. With a book by Douglas Carter, “Xanadu” tells the tale of a magical muse appearing on Earth to encourage a failing artist to follow his dreams and open a totally rad roller-skating disco.

Portraying the loveable and vivacious muse Kira (Clio) was Fallon Collins, whose sparkling stage presence and impeccable comedic timing commanded each scene. Performing while roller-skating is no easy feat; however, Collins sang with evident control that showcased her vast vocal range and extraordinary technique, most notably in her stunning, heartfelt song, “Suspended in Time.” Collins was able to switch between accents effortlessly throughout the production as her character continuously disguised herself to be a mortal, displaying clear commitment to her character(s). Alongside Collins was Danny Landin playing Sonny Malone. Landin had excellent character choices that aided in the immense chemistry between him and Collins.

Jocelyn Gomez embodied the devious “right-hand-muse” to Melpomene (Ava Chen), Calliope. Gomez amplified the production with her distinct physicality and hilarious expressions that emphasized her captivating passion for the role. Chen’s whimiscal presence was exhibited through her high energy and amusing vocal inflection; the two had an organic bond that aided in their sisterly dynamic. Andrew Emerson, as Danny Maguire, did an excellent job portraying an older man through his unique physicality, demonstrating endless devotion to his character.

As an ensemble, the Muses worked beautifully together with unwavering energy and well-blended harmonies. While also playing various roles throughout the show, the Muses remained specific with each unique character, displaying endless dedication. Hair and Makeup was wonderfully executed, with wigs that remained in position while cast members were skating across the stage and makeup looks that contributed to the distinctiveness of each character. Incorporating the cast for exciting weekly social media takeovers and interactive posts, the marketing and publicity team’s commitment to the show must be noted.

Reach your final destination, with a pair of roller skates in hand, and experience JP Taravella’s electrifying production of “Xanadu,” Be prepared to be “dancin” all night as suspicions, broken rules, and the power of love all change the fate of one’s existence.

*** *** ***

Reviews of Little Women, the Broadway Musical at Calvary Christian Academy on Thursday, 9/30/2021.


By Jacob Harris of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

An industry where literature encapsulates the entirety of one’s career; a realm where “delighted” authors instantly become neglected novelists, just as a simple press release holds critical judgements, shattering one’s ambitions. “Some things are meant to be” whether it’s an endless sequence of relentless rejections from the world’s exclusive publishers, to crossing the path of “the most amazing thing”, the love of your life. Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “Little Women, the Broadway Musical,” represents society’s “finest dream,” carving the stepping stones of your future through the art of writing!

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868, best selling novel, “Little Women, the Broadway Musical,” performed in the Virginia Theatre, received a Tony Award nomination for Sutton Foster’s portrayal of Jo March. With music and lyrics by Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein, the musical accompanies Jo March, along her quest to continue towards her path of which she strives to generate a career throughout. As her story unravels, Jo’s sisters maintain the valuable asset of true devotion, continuously revolving around the duration of and throughout Jo’s journey.

Jenna McCoy embodied fearlessness and feminism in her incredible portrayal of Jo March. McCoy displayed outstanding believability and clear commitment to her portrayal of this inspiringly fierce heroine. Among McCoy’s fascinating vocals, notable dance technique, and distinct characterization, her evident dedication to the theatre was perceptible, most notably represented in her Act One ballad, “Astonishing.”

Isabella Leon’s striking characterization of the role Amy March, applied satire and charisma into the sorrowful story. Leon’s effervescent personality brought light to the stage, creating a perception of sensitivity, as the youngest March sister. Gage Eller exhibited the role of Laurie Laurence, the March family’s next door neighbor, and brotherly figure.  His impeccable comedic timing was noteworthy, all throughout the course of the musical.

Kelly Goenaga portrayed Marmee March with incredible vocalization and a distinguished sense of maturity. Throughout the production, her vocalizations remained supported and sustained, most notably in her incredible solo, “Days of Plenty.” Kaia Mills’ performance as Beth March was commendable. Mill’s elegant delivery of this character accurately represented the hardships she faced throughout the storyline.

Despite some minor technical inconsistencies, the production ran fluently. The hair and makeup team worked together to aid in the narration of the story with stylistic attention to detail and time period appropriate designs. The sound, managed by Soleil Escobar, maintained proper quality and levels of noise, keeping the production running in a timely fashion.

An author’s craft is their passion, their true dedication, and ultimately, their reality. Hysteria and despair diminishes once writers discover the obstacle holding them back from attainment. Jo’s story encourages young women of all ages, all races, and all cultures that it’s okay to be different, representing how diversity connects and brings society together. Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “Little Women, the Broadway Musical” proves that the grasp that connects these stories, collectively, as a community is none other than the unbreakable bond of sisterhood.

*** *** ***

By Levi Cole of NSU University School

Exploring conflicting societal expectations for women has long been fodder for literature and stage. Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “Little Women” tells the tale of a loving family living within and courageously defying these barriers to become “Astonishing. ”

With book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland, and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, “Little Women” is based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. “Little Women” made its Broadway debut at the Virginia Theatre in January 2005. The narrative follows the March family-supportive mother Marmee, eldest sister Meg, sweet Beth, young romantic Amy, and spunky protagonist Jo – whose father is away fighting in the Civil War. The musical tells the heartwarming story of Jo’s journey to become a successful writer while trying to balance family life, romance, and societal expectations of femininity.

Portraying the bold protagonist Jo, was Jenna McCoy. McCoy successfully captured the ambitious and adventurous nature of her character exuding energy, outstanding comedic timing, and an overall convincing performance. Her vocal performance was consistently strong, and impressively featured in nearly every song. Notably, her talents shined in the Act 1 closer “Astonishing”.

As Amy, the March family’s youngest, Isabella Leon effectively played a character at two distinct ages. Leon portrayed a believable jealous little sister in Act 1, while also convincingly embodying a matured, sophisticated Amy in Act 2. Playing Beth, Kaia Mills captured the soft, comforting nature of her character through her gentle vocals and character choices, particularly in the number “Some Things Are Meant To Be”. As the oldest sister, Meg, Jazmin Miro displayed powerful voice and characterization. Gage Eller solidly portrayed Laurie, the awkward and charming boy next door. Portraying Marmee, Kelly Goenaga splendidly demonstrated her acting skills, successfully portraying a supportive mother figure. Additionally, Goenaga showcased a wide vocal range and brilliant vibrato, especially in “Days of Plenty”. As Aunt March, the family’s conservative and stern matriarch, Isabella Buitrago added wonderful comic relief to the production while staying true to her rigid character.

As an ensemble, the March family had excellent chemistry and a believable family dynamic. The sisters and Laurie all worked fabulously with one another, best demonstrated in the number “Five Forever” where the actors’ vocals, dancing, and teamwork shined. The overall ensemble was a pleasure to watch, especially in “The Weekly Volcano Press”, a rare number where the entire company was on stage.

The technical components contributed to the success of this production tremendously. The sound by Soleil Escobar was exceptionally designed and executed for the black box theater, and the balance between hearing the actors’ voices and microphone amplification was incredible. The stage management team led by Caiden Talbert is also to be commended, as there were over 150 total cues, all executed seamlessly.

Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “Little Women” superbly told the story of little women with big personalities.

*** *** ***

By Haleigh Mish of NSU University School

“Christopher Columbus!” Jo March is on a journey to “find her time and place” in the world and be the published writer she has always wished to be. To accomplish her goal, Jo must revisit her childhood journey to find what brings her passion in her writing. Alongside sisters: Meg, Beth, and youngest Amy, Jo must find what and who has made her who she is, in Calvary Christian Academy’s production of Little Women, the Broadway musical.

Based on the bestselling novel by Louisa May Alcott with the same title, Little Women, The Broadway Musical has music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and a book by Allan Knee. Little Women opened on Broadway in 2005 and played at the Virginia Theatre. The musical won Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Outstanding Featured Actress, Outstanding Orchestrations, and received one Tony Award nomination for Leading Actress in a Musical. Taking place during the 19th century Civil War, the March sisters must battle the challenges faced in the time period such as sicknesses, as well as, their own personal battles with life purposes, journeys to happiness, and love.

Playing the stubborn and determined Jo March, was Jenna McCoy. McCoy had excellent comedic timing and distinct physicalities that fit the character well. Whether she was standing on top of a stool or balancing a book on top of her head, Jenna McCoy delivered consistent vocal control in her songs such as, “Astonishing” and “The Fire Within Me. ” She also showcased great chemistry with Kaia Mills playing the role of sister Beth March while the pair harmonized and established a strong connection with one another. Kelly Goenaga playing mother Marmee March was a stand-out in the musical. She had an angelic voice that could be beautifully heard in her performances of, “Here Alone” and “Days of Plenty.” Her wonderful motherly acting choices took us on truthful emotional journeys with both songs.

Some of “the most amazing things” about the show were the technical aspects. As the show began, the clever lighting choices based on the time and energy of the lines spoken made the show very engaging. The fast makeup and hair changes were executed flawlessly by Lexi Denison, Trinity Sparks, and Danielle Stevens from the wig application when Jo cuts her hair, to the makeup applied to Beth during intermission as the character becomes ill. All stage management cues by Caiden Talbert were called superbly.

Finally, after she reflects on her past, Jo realizes that the true fire in her heart comes from her family. She realizes that as long as they “have each other” they are who they need to be. “Some things are meant to be” and Little Women, The Broadway Musical at Calvary Christian Academy was everything it was meant to be; inspiring, moving, and heartwarming.

*** *** ***

By Emma Sugarman of JP Taravella High School

From dancing together at lavish balls, to brawling over sisterly feuds, to persisting through unthinkable tragedy, this touching narrative beautifully captures the cherished and everlasting bond of sisterhood. From “Astonishing” adventures to touching tribulations, Calvary Christian Academy’s production of “Little Women” tells a tale of big dreams and boundless love.

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Louisa May Alcott, the heartfelt musical adaptation premiered on Broadway in 2005, running for 137 performances. With a book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland, “Little Women” follows the adventures and adversity the four March sisters face as their father is off serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Jo March, as the spirited and progressive sister, pursues her writing career, and her “blood and guts” stories are accompanied by immersive vignettes.

Embodying Jo March, the ambitious protagonist “who yearned to travel and write great,” Jenna McCoy delivered a captivating performance through her spectacular vocal control and splendid multi-faceted dancing. McCoy’s “unladylike” physicality and fiery presence perfectly captured her character’s vehement opposition to the domestic confinement placed upon women during the era. The loving matriarch of the March family, Marmee, was played by Kelly Goenaga. Goenaga exquisitely depicted an aged and maternal nature while demonstrating her stunning vocal ability.

Kaia Mills portrayed the pure-hearted Beth March. Through her sweet demeanor and angelic vocalization, Mills created a lovable character, making her storyline even more gripping. Mills also showcased her talent as she serenaded the audience with a charming piano melody. The youngest and most energetic of the March sisters, Amy, was played by the expressive Isabella Leon. Leon demonstrated remarkable range as her character’s charming, playful manner quickly erupted into bouts of jealousy and ill-temper. She also exhibited exceptional  development from a young, naive child, to a mature woman, while maintaining a youthful temperament and enthusiasm.

The cast of this production gracefully conveyed the significant morals and occasionally sorrowful scenes while filtering in perfectly-timed moments of comedic relief. The March family quickly established their engaging chemistry, which continued to blossom throughout the performance, delivering the story’s ultimate theme of the immeasurable family bond. The primary world was completed by the ensemble’s well-executed and poised stage business, while the mythical world of Jo’s short stories were vitalized by glorious harmonies and breathtaking stage pictures.

Much like the unbreakable bond of the March family, the technical crew demonstrated the same unity. Stage transitions were quick and organized, and the actors’ preservation of characters distracted from any hiccups. The hair and makeup immersed viewers into the 19th century, while the sound was executed seamlessly.

“Solid like a fortress,” the family bond will prevail through sickness and health, peace and war,  heartbreak and hope. Whether bursting with tears, swelling with love, or making you exclaim “Oh Christopher Columbus!” Calvary Christian Academy’s captivating production of “Little Women” is a reminder that the eternal ties of sisterly love is truly “The Most Amazing Thing.”

*** *** ***

By Naomi Sternberg of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS

Writing can take you many places, from evil and dangerous forests to the comfort of a small living room surrounded by the ones you love most. Calvary Christian Academy’s rendition of “Little Women: The Musical” shows how the simple lives of a family in the 19th century can shape bonds that last a lifetime.

Based on the 1868 and 1869 novels written by Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women: The Musical” follows Jo March – a girl with a passion for writing – and her sisters Meg, Amy, and Beth, plus their mother Marmee, and their hardships as a family, as their father is gone during the Civil War. Debuting on Broadway on January 23rd, 2005, the show only ran for 137 performances before closing on May 22nd of that same year.

Starring as the passionate yet brash Jo March was Jenna McCoy, whose excitability brought life to the stage. McCoy’s characterization of Jo was fresh compared to such refined characters like Aunt March or Marmee, and charmed the audience throughout the show. Her performance in “The Fire Within Me” and “Some Things Are Meant to Be” showed McCoy’s full range of emotions, which brought a level of depth to Jo. Her vocals, especially during “Astonishing,” were powerful, and McCoy never missed a note.

Playing Jo March’s sister Amy, the youngest of the four sisters, was Isabella Leon. Leon’s acting choices made her extremely fun to watch as she endeared herself to the audience in every scene she was in. Her transition from a girl to an adult in Act 2 was well done, with her change in body language and expression impressive. As the mother of all four March sisters, Kelly Goenaga’s Marmee March was a highlight of the show. Goenaga’s characterization of Marmee made her feel like a real mother, and her performance in “Here Alone” and “Days of Plenty” was nothing short of emotional.

As a whole, the March Sisters – McCoy and Leon joined by Jazmin Miro (Meg) and Kaia Mills (Beth) – displayed great individuality between their characters and amazing chemistry together. Miro, Leon, Mills, and McCoy showed the audience a truly special bond between sisters; their enchanting playfulness evident during “Our Finest Dreams” and “Five Forever” was both entertaining and captivating.

Other than some awkward placements, the creative direction – done by McCoy – helped the characters flourish. McCoy’s direction was backed by the wonderful stage management of Caiden Talbert, Mielah Pierce, and Arianna Rotondo, who made sure all the transitions were seamless. The hair and makeup crew – Lexi Denison, Trinity Sparks, and Danielle Stevens – did an impeccable job, especially with how Jo’s wig at the end of Act 1 was stable to the point of looking like real hair and how Beth’s frail makeup in Act 2 made her look truly sickly.

With wonderful storytelling and a lovely cast of characters, Calvary Christian Academy’s performance of “Little Women: The Musical” was truly “Astonishing.”

*** *** ***

Reviews of Bring It On at David Posnack Jewish Day School on Tuesday, 01/28/2020.


By Sarah Wyner of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

What’s a cheer captain without a squad? Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say, and whether you’ve been relocated to a new school or are being overthrown by your power-hungry next-door neighbor, it is essential to have your squad to keep your spirits high. Stunted into greatness, David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Bring It On” proves to be a relevant comedy that delves into the complexities of unexpected friendships, facing the unknown, and embracing what you were born to do.

Loosely based on the 2000 movie of the same name, “Bring It On: The Musical” is mounted with legendary music and lyrics by tony-award winning team, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, and Amanda Green. After officially premiering on Broadway in August 2012, the show scored three Tony nominations including a nomination for best musical. This spirited show focuses in on the life of Campbell Davis, ambitious cheer captain of Truman High School, whose entire world takes a spin when she is suddenly redistricted across town to Jackson High. Though the school doesn’t even have a cheer team, Campbell finds her own sassy squad and works hard for her dreams against all odds, in the face of any competition.

Leading the production with exuberant energy was Lillian Milgram as the hopeful teenage cheer captain, Campbell Davis. Milgram led each number with strong charisma, and admirably captured the rowdy cheerleader’s compassionate side in her stunning, soft solo, “One Perfect Moment”. As Campbell’s new admirer at Jackson High, Randall, Shaun Rousso exuded an adorable passion all throughout his stage time and a clear chemistry with Milgram, notably in their duet, “Enjoy the Trip.”

As the cheery reject, Bridget, who yearns for a position on the cheerleading team, Whitney Wildstein frolicked across the stage with endless vitality and wit. Commanding the stage in her eccentric role, Wildstein roused the crowd with her enjoyable musical moments and impressive comedic timing. Another standout was Josh Riesenberg, who charmingly portrayed Jackson’s one and only hip-hop sensation, Twig. Riesenberg’s playful line delivery in scenes where he was crushing hard on Bridget made his character absolutely amusing to watch.

Despite minor inconsistencies in some performers’ musical timing, the orchestra did a commendable job maintaining the show’s buoyant acoustics with clear dedication and intensity that ultimately heightened the power of the production. The ensemble of Truman and Jackson cheerleaders brought high levels of energy and precision in each dance move. Most memorably, the Jackson trio, Danielle, Nautica, and La Cienega, portrayed by Phoebe Zucker, Margalit Maleh, and Alexandra Pri-Hadash, respectively, added a spice of sass and spunk to the students of Jackson.

In the end, “it’s all happening” at David Posnack Jewish Day School in their high-flying production of “Bring It On.” Packed with superior facials, spirit fingers galore, and one cheertastic competition, this all-star cast truly reminds us to follow our hearts, give it our all, and just “enjoy the trip” while we still can.

*** *** ***

By Annie Sudler of Calvary Christian Academy

The frenzied world of competitive cheerleading first flew onto the scene nearly 50 years ago and has quickly made a name for itself as one of the most athletic competitive sports.  Popular among high schools, most recognize the effort required to cheer, but few ever see the politics that go on in every squad.  David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Bring It On” gave an exciting glimpse behind the curtain of what it means to be a cheerleader in high school today.

Based on the 2000 movie of the same name, “Bring It On” first tumbled onto Broadway in July 2012.  With a book by Jeff Whitty, music by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt, and lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green, the show broke ground as being one of the first musicals to feature a significant transgender character.  Though the show closed after only a few months on Broadway, there has since been a national tour, London production, and an upcoming UK tour slated for June 2020.

“Bring It On” follows Campbell Davis at the end of her junior year.  Newly elected as the captain of Truman High School’s cheerleading squad, her world is shattered as a last-minute redistricting separates her from her friends Skylar and Kylar, her boyfriend Steven, and her squad.  She is sent to Jackson High School, where, much to her dismay, there is no cheer squad, but rather a dance crew.  After a rocky start, she befriends the leader of the dance crew, Danielle, and together they create a cheer squad to rival Truman’s new captain, a sophomore named Eva who masterminded Campbell’s leaving.

Lillian Milgram (Campbell) was a joy to watch.  Her beautiful voice lent itself perfectly to the style of the score, and her relationships with others onstage mirrored those that would be seen in the halls of any high school today.  Another standout performer was Whitney Wildstein.  Playing the quirky and awkward Bridget, Wildstein gave what could easily be the most energetic performance of the night.  Her mannerisms and spot-on expressions coupled with masterful comedic timing ensured that sweet Bridget remained a favorite throughout the show.

Of course, members of the Jackson crew warrant praise as well.  Both Danielle (Phoebe Zucker) and Nautica (Margalit Maleh) took to the stage with fierce dances and strong characters.  They recovered from any sort of stumbling block sent their way with ease, whether a dropped line in a song or a missed move.  Over at Truman, Eva (Tal Naider) gave a similarly admirable performance.  Her wild rise to power was well crafted, and her ability to switch between timidity and ire was impressive.

The ensemble of the show certainly had a lot of work to do.  Playing both Truman cheerleaders and Jackson dancers and cheerleaders, the dances were endless and the stamina was high.  However, there were certainly moments where the energy dipped, such as in long numbers.  Though the soloists were able to carry the focus in those moments, it was not unnoticeable.  The live band playing the pop score did a remarkable job staying completely in sync with the performers, even adjusting slightly to compensate for timing errors amongst the cast.  Even during long scene changes, the underscoring helped keep the mood up and the audience focused.

At its core, “Bring It On” is the quintessential high school musical.  It explores popularity, loneliness, friendship, and what it truly means to do what you love.  David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Bring It On” was a truly heartwarming performance that reinforced the idea of unity and moving on.

*** *** ***

By Rylee Berger of Cooper City High School

The astounding athleticism, epic stunts, and catty drama of cheerleading have propelled it to ubiquity across popular culture, high schools, and professional sports alike. America’s fascination with the sport has led to multiple TV shows, movies, and now a musical. “Bring it On,” performed by David Posnack Jewish Day School, is an entertaining production filled with complicated choreography and bitter rivalries.

Inspired by a 2000 movie of the same name, the musical boasts a Tony- and Pulitzer-prize-winning creative team, including Tom Kitt (of “Next to Normal”) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights”). The catchy tunes and snarky dialogue feel right at home in the vindictive high school setting, where audiences are introduced to cheer captain Campbell and the rest of Truman High School’s squad. After a suspicious series of events results in her transfer to a new school (notably lacking a cheer squad), Campbell must convince the apprehensive students of Jackson High School to help her win the coveted national trophy while battling a sneaky sophomore who wants the prize – and the power – for herself.

Lillian Milgram brought Campbell to life with her enthusiasm and energy. Tasked with a challenging score and demanding role, Milgram demonstrated commendable stamina for the duration of the show. Milgram’s relationship with Phoebe Zucker as Danielle, the head of Jackson’s dance crew and top of the school’s social hierarchy, was notable for its chemistry and honesty. These qualities were on display in their compelling duet “We’re Not Done,” a highlight of the production due to its expressive vocals.

As Campbell’s nerdy sidekick Bridget, Whitney Wildstein brought hilarity and power to her performance. Her physicality showed obvious commitment to her character and her comedic timing expressed a clear understanding of the text. Her onstage relationships were well-developed and believable with multiple characters, including Campbell and Twig (Josh Riesenberg). Another standout performance was that of Margalit Maleh as Nautica, especially in the entertaining number, “It Ain’t No Thing.” Her captivating vocals, distinguished liveliness, and impressive dance skills made for a highly memorable performance.

The entire cast maintained consistent energy levels and appropriate facials. Despite the tendency of some performers to overact, their commitment to their roles and ability to make choices was nevertheless appreciated. Though harmonies often clashed, the ensemble should be commended for their ability to end each number on a high note, using strong cheerleading poses to their advantage.

The David Posnack Band had the difficult task of playing for the two-and-a-half-hour musical with a pop-rock score atypical of Broadway. Though the orchestra at times clashed with vocalists, they provided much-needed underscoring to the show’s lengthy transitions. Their performance during these moments was enjoyable and well-balanced.

Ultimately, rivalries ignite, friendships form, and unexpected heroes take the floor in David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Bring it On,” a fun and highly spirited production that is sure to reinforce cheerleading’s prominence in popular culture.

*** *** ***

By Reese Abrahamoff of Cooper City High School

“How do we know who we are unless we cross the line?” A complicated question whose answer may be found between two squads of cheerleaders and their ruthless desire for victory. Who will come out on top? Find out in David Posnack Jewish Day School’s enjoyable rendition of “Bring It On.”

Based on the 2000 film of the same name, “Bring It On” made its way to Broadway in 2012, closing later that same year. With music by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt, lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green, and a book by Jeff Whitty, the production earned two Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. Ready? Okay! First up to the mat is Truman High, a school where friendships lack loyalty and drama trumps education. After an unexpected redistricting decision, ex Truman cheer captain Campbell Davis finds herself walking the disheveled halls of Jackson High, a school on the wrong side of the tracks. Dealing with themes of racial and social division, “Bring It On” takes us through a story of jealousy, high-school romance, and quite a few cheer routines!

Leading lady Lillian Milgram did a wonderful job as Campbell. With continuous stamina and proper intentions, Milgram maintained her character throughout the entirety of the production and excelled in showing her transformation from “Queen Bee” to the anxious outsider. Alongside Milgram was Phoebe Zucker as the headstrong Jackson crew leader, Danielle. Zucker’s fierce attitude and assertive expressions allowed for a genuine understanding of her hardened upbringing. Both actresses worked well with one another, creating a sincere relationship that one would never have expected, most evident in their dynamic duet “We’re Not Done.”

Rocking both parrot heads and comedy, Whitney Wildstein’s (Bridget) endless zest and bold choices never failed to humor the audience. With non-stop energy and persistent character development, Wildstein took control of the stage and the heart of Josh Riesenberg (Twig) whose jock mentality complimented Wildstein’s awkward physicality. One of the most notable performances was by that of Margalit Maleh (Nautica). With remarkable singing abilities and impressive character choices, Maleh was always a standout amongst the ensemble. Her sassy persona and obvious background in dance allowed for a thoroughly entertaining performance full of certainty and vigor.

The ensemble should be recognized for their dedication and constant energy throughout the show. However, at certain points of the production, it seemed that several characters were lost with the music and therefore struggled with synchronization during the dances. Additionally, while the cast should be commended for tackling such a demanding production, they often lacked vocal delivery as well as character motivation. Despite this, the cast did a great job working with a live orchestra. The David Posnack Band maintained lively energy along with stunning sound quality that contributed to the upbeat nature of the production.

In a world where competition conquers all and the desire for success continues, it’s common to forget about the people around us who make us better. David Posnack Jewish Day School’s production of “Bring It On” invites us to think deeper, let go, and fly high.

*** *** ***

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