Some and students will get a taste of the Hollywood awards season this weekend, thanks to their participation in The Cappies, a program for Theater Arts and Journalism students for acting, theatre production and review writing.
The Cappie awards are given in every category from Best Actor and Actress in a Musical to Best Set, Props and Stage Crew, among others. Pattonville's productions of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and are up for honors, as are Parkway Central's "Leading Ladies" and .
The Cappies, short for the Critics and Awards Program, trains high school theater and journalism students as critics. The student critics attend shows at other schools and write theater reviews, which then are published in local news outlets. At the end of the year, the critics vote for awards that are presented at the formal Cappie Awards Gala.
“The event is very much like the Tony awards,” Judi Greene said, co-founder and chair of the St. Louis Cappies and Marquette High School theatre director. “The kids get all dressed up. The school critics are the ones who vote. They're in control.”
Greene first heard about the Cappies program while at a state conference, which aroused her interest. “What they were doing intrigued me,” Greene said. “I got in touch with the national group. The next thing I know, Mike Isaacson of Fox Associates contacted me and wanted to support the group. The Fox hosts welcome events for us still, and the Muny supports us as well.”
Now in its sixth season, the St. Louis Cappies includes 17 private and public high schools from St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson Counties, down from last years total of 24 schools. Some schools opted out this year due to budget concerns, Greene said. It costs a school $150.00 dollars to participate.
This year the awards ceremony takes place Sunday May 22, 2011 at and will feature performances from several schools along with guest speakers, including local professional actors and high school principals. But the Cappies represent far more than just a star-studded awards gala for the students.
“It's great to see kids from the inner city become friends with kids from the county,” Greene said. “There are so many residual benefits for these kids.”
Maggie Ryan, Theatre Director at Nerinx Hall High, concurred. “I really do think it provides an opportunity for student critics to go to all the shows and improve their writing skills. To see what it takes to make a great show.”
Having the students efforts validated is also an important part of the program. “The Cappies is a chance for the kids to be rewarded for their work,” Ryan said. “It affirms their skills.”
For the students however, the emphasis is on fun and the thrill of the ceremony and the opportunity to mingle with performing arts students from other schools.
“The kids are very excited,” Ryan said. “Everybody gets dressed up. It's very exciting, and of course we're thrilled with the students and their nominations.”