The 16th Annual Cappies Gala Recap

The 16th Annual Cappies Gala, LIVE AND IN-PERSON for the first time in three years, was held at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.  Cappies Critics, performers and presenters came out in their finest to celebrate high school theatre and the coveted Cappies Awards for the 2021-2022 season were announced.  Twenty-one schools participated this season, and the night was filled with drama, cheers, performances, and touching and poignant acceptance speeches.

The most crucial part of the Cappies program is the student critics.  Each school chooses three to six students who travel to schools across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to watch shows, write reviews, and nominate performers and crews for Cappies nomination consideration.  The top reviews are posted here on this blog.  This year, Jack McCullough (Harriton High School – 9th/10th grade), Arielle Oslon (Upper Merion Area High School – 11th grade), and Aiden Kaliner (Harriton High School – 12th grade) received the top critics honors for their grade level.  McCullough, Kaliner, and fellow nominee Nel Blinman, spear-headed Harriton High School as their school also took home the Cappies Award for Critics Team!

For performances categories, the biggest show of the night was the Big Fish!  Upper Merion Area High School’s touching and powerful musical took home seven Cappies awards including Stage Crew, Lead Actor in a Musical (Daniel Isajiw) and the coveted Cappies Award for Musical among their haul.  Archmere Academy, with their production of the classic comedy Once Upon a Mattress tied for second with four Cappies awards, including Lead Actress in a Musical (Serena Martin), and Sun Valley High School’s classic musical Oklahoma also took home four Cappies awards including sweeping the dance categories and Male Vocalist (Seamus McGroary).   The Hill School’s original musical, Love, Dot, won the Cappies for Song in a Musical with their haunting and captivating rendition of “Every Step You Take”.

For the Play categories, Conestoga High School’s powerful production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, took home four Cappies awards including the Cappies Award for Play Production, Lead Actor in a Play (Jared Bundens) and both the Lighting and Sound awards.  Episcopal Academy took home four Cappies awards for their production of Radium Girls, including Lead Actress in a Play (Katie Locke).  This was Locke’s second Cappies award for Actress in a Play, winning two years ago for her performance in Walk Two Moons

The complete list of nominees and winners can be found here.

2021 – 2022 Cappies Nominations and Winners

Thank you for a memorable, interesting, fun year of theatre.  We are looking forward to celebrating another year of high school theatre in the fall!

2021-2022 Cappies Nominations Revealed!

The votes have finally been cast for the 2021-2022 Greater Philadelphia Area Cappies Awards!  The critics and shows have persisted through thick and thin, through tech weeks and production weeks, through delays and final performances!  After twenty-one schools performed throughout the year starting way back in November, on Sunday May 1st, Cappies critics cast their votes and the results were released this week.

In the Musical categories, Upper Merion High School, with its dramatic and powerful production of Big Fish, was nominated for seventeen production awards, including six technical awards, eleven performance awards, and a nomination for overall Musical Production.  Other shows with top honors include: Haverford’s groovy production of Mamma Mia, with nominations in fifteen categories including Lead Actor in a Musical, Set Design, Orchestra, and overall Musical Production, Archmere Academy’s nine performance nominations for its classic comedy musical Once Upon a Mattress, which included Lead Actress in a Musical, Ensemble in a Musical, and overall Musical Production, and Sun Valley High School’s lively production the musical classic Oklahoma which captured eleven overall nominations, including Male Vocalist, Song, and overall Musical Production.

In the Play categories, Harriton High School’s sweet production of The Curious Savage garnered eleven nominations including Lead Actress in a Play, Supporting Actor and Actress in a Play, and overall Play Production.  Conestoga High School’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night earned seven performance nominations including Lead Actor in a Play and Play Production.  Episcopal Academy’s powerful production of Radium Girls gathered eight performance nominations, including Lead Actress in a Play and Play Production.  Rounding out the Play category, PA Leadership Charter School’s stunning modernized production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet scored six nominations, including Lead Actress in a Play and Play Production.

For the critic awards, Harriton High School and Upper Merion High School received five nominations each, including four out of their six critics being nominated for top awards, while also being nominated for the Outstanding Overall Team award.  Archmere Academy, Conestoga High School, and Phoenixville Area High School also received Team nominations.

See the full list of nominations here –

The 16th Annual Cappies Gala, where the Cappies awards will be revealed for all the categories, will be held at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center on Sunday May 15th at 6pm.  Tickets can be purchased here.

So, get out your formal wear and get ready for an amazing night of celebrating high school theatre in the Greater Philadelphia Area!

Mamma Mia! – Haverford High School

Mamma Mia! by Haverford High School in Havertown, PA

May 4, 2022

Review submitted by Taylor Malone of Conestoga High School

Let it be known that you can dance, you can jive, and you can certainly have the time of your life when experiencing the groovy trance of Haverford High School’s musical Mamma Mia! As the curtain closes on such a sensational story, all you’ll be able to hear is chants of gimmie, gimmie, gimmie an encore before midnight!

As spunky Dynamo-singer Rosie says…it is very Greek. Mamma Mia! follows the harrowing journey of a curious girl, Sophie, as she explores new heights to learn who her father truly is. Good news is, she has a lead on who could be the mystery man. Bad news is…she has three leads on who he could be.

Despite having to step into this role at the last minute, Emma Swantak (Sophie), does a delightful job capturing the youthful impression her character needs. Stand-out solos prompted by her promising vocals include “I Have a Dream” and heart-felt duet with her mother, “Slipping Through My Fingers.”

Here she goes again, my, my, how can anyone resist her? That is the one and only Lily Guidetti, playing the spontaneous Donna, Sophie’s mother. Adding to the flare of not only her pants but also her personality too, Guidetti utilizes her charismatic and comedic physicality to mold a light-hearted atmosphere, showing the audience why she may be known as a “Super Trouper.”

Alongside this dancing queen stand her two partners in crime, Tanya (Katie Blickley) and Rosie (Ava Facciolo). Together, the trio mesmerizes the audience with their platonic chemistry, surely convincing the crowd they have been the iconic Donna and the Dynamos for as long as they have claimed. Masters of the disco, Haverford High School’s Vacationer ensemble hypnotizes viewers to the point where they are practically dancing in their seats with the funky tunes that are brought their way.

On stage seems to not be the only party going on, but indeed behind that curtain is another spectacular production. Transforming a stage into the tropical oasis of Greece is no easy feat, but it is surely no shock Haverford’s team can go above and beyond for this. Specifically, amazing creativity can be seen in Haverford’s Marketing/Publicity Team, run by Camille Stahl and Ava Facciolo. In addition to this abundance of talent is Caleb Schmitt plus his wonderful orchestra, which at such an early age is able to orchestrate this upbeat jukebox tune all by himself.

This isn’t the type of show to just start “slipping through your fingers,” with the cast and crew’s dedication to making this performance stand out from the rest. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing yourself say “I do, I do, I do” to any chance you can get to see Haverford’s tremendous productions!


Review submitted by Lilian Rizek of The Hill School

Mamma Mia! What a show it was, at Haverford High School. The Haverford Drama Club performed a well-known 1999 musical composed of songs by the group ABBA.

Mamma Mia! takes place over the last twenty-four hours before the wedding of twenty-year-old Sophie. Her mom, Donna, owns and operates a taverna on a small Greek island, and for Sophie’s whole life she has been content not knowing her father. However, three months before the wedding, Sophie made an effort to identify and invite her father, but realized there are three men who could have that title, so she invites them all to the wedding where they are reintroduced to an island they haven’t been to in over two decades.

Though she held the role of assistant director for the show, Emma Swantak stepped in as Sophie less than twenty-four hours ahead of opening night. She was understandably uncertain about certain dances, however, Swantak nailed every song with a sweet and soft tone that was well suited to the character of Sophie. She brought great energy and excitement to the stage, keeping the audience invested in Sophie’s life and story. The role of Donna was held by Lily Guidetti, who brought a strong voice and clear skill to her role.

Sophie’s fianc√©, Sky, was played by Nicholas Borgesi, whose strong voice and confident dancing brought a life to his part. Sophie’s three potential fathers were a strong supporting cast: from Sam (Michael Selfridge), with a voice and charm that captured the audience, to Bill (Ellis Singleton) and Harry (Colin Cleary), with acting and comedic timing that entertained in the best moments. The three meshed well together and with Guidetti and Swantak.

Katie Blickley and Ava Facciolo as Tanya and Rosie created a great bond with a balance of bickering and helping tones, and they filled the emotional challenges of their characters as well as bringing a great energy to their songs. The ensemble brought a great immersion to the show, creating the feel of being on an island. Though occasionally lacking in energy overall, the ensemble brought energy to every dance and demonstrated a clear mastery of their staging.

The technical aspects of the show were impressive. The lighting for the show was phenomenal, accurately catching each mood, with spotlights capturing every move. This was enhanced by the effective stage management, with perfectly timed cues and a clear communication among cast and crew regarding blocking and moving set pieces. The student-conducted orchestra completed the show, demonstrating mastery of the score and a clear relationship with the cast.

Mamma Mia! is a difficult undertaking, with the number of songs and the storytelling to be done. The entire cast showed an ability to work together and had a mastery of the show. “Thank You For The Music”, Haverford!