BWW Feature: 15th ANNUAL CAPPIES AWARDS at THE BROWARD CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTSSouth Florida celebrates outstanding achievement in high school theater when students from 25 public and private schools throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties vie for top honors in the 15th AnnuAl Cappies Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 16th. The Cappies (the Critics and Awards Program) is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. Students form critic teams, with teachers or industry professionals volunteering as Cappie mentors. Headed by Program Director Lori Sessions, The South Florida Cappies are the first Cappies program in the State of Florida. Their 2017 year-end gala will be hosted at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in the Au-Rene Theatre at 7:00p.m.

The inspiration for the Cappies came from concerns that grew from the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. "After Columbine, it became particularly important to find ways to give teenagers positive reinforcement. You have to balance out the youth culture," said William Strauss, who is the author of several books on sociology. Several years ago, Strauss was speaking at a high school awards ceremony and said he was dismayed at the prevalence of honors for athletes, and the lack of attention paid to theater students. Working with Virginia theatre teacher Judy Bowns he created what became known as The Cappies.

The Cappies Mission Statement:

  • To Provide a unique collaborative learning experience for high school theater students.
  • To encourage and advance the training of student writers, performing artists, and technical crews.
  • To inspire creativity and critical thinking.
  • To offer constructive critical feedback for student theatrical endeavors.
  • To foster more community recognition of student achievement in theater arts.
  • To enhance, celebrate, and add excitement to high school theater across America.

Each participating school selects a play or musical as its Cappies show. Student critics attend a designated Cappies show night to review the show. At the Cappies show night, parent boosters host the critics by setting up a Cappies Room, with decorations and refreshments. Before the show, during intermission, and after the show, teacher-mentors lead critic discussions. Each critic goes home and writes a review of the performance they have seen. The reviews are submitted anonymously via their Cappies website. Teacher-mentors edit the reviews, and select which reviews (usually five or six) should be published. Cappies reviews may be seen in publications such as The Washington Post, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News, Kansas City Star, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Throughout the year, each critic reviews five shows, and each teacher-mentor will volunteer twice. In late spring, critics vote for Cappie Awards. Five Nominees are selected in each of 35 categories, along with four Commendees per school. At the end of the year, the Cappie Awards are presented at a Cappies Gala. At the Gala, selected students perform songs and sketches from nominated shows. Each year, over 200 students receive Cappies honors of some kind. In July and August many of the top award honorees from around the U.S. and Canada are invited to participate in the Cappies International Theater, where they perform shows at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Schools may only join by participating in a Cappies program in its own area. The Cappies welcomes charter applications from across the United States and Canada. For more information on the Cappies you may contact Cappies Headquarters by writing them at 3877 Fairfax Ridge Rd., South Tower Suite 3-111 in Fairfax, VA 22030, calling 1-877-90-CAPPY (22779), or emailing at

Tickets for the Cappies Awards are $20 for adults and $15 for students. You may buy tickets online at or, by phone at 954.462.0222 or TTD/TTY at 800.359.2525, in person at Ticketmaster outlets or the Broward Center's AutoNation Box Office. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

The Cappies Awards categories include those for Sound, Lighting, Sets, Costumes, Make-Up, Props & Effects, Stage Crew, Orchestra, Choreography, Song, Play, Musical; Creativity in Directing, Play Writing, Composing, Lyric Writing, Musicianship and Unusual Use of Technology; Critics and Critics Team; Lead and Featured Actors and Actresses; Ensembles; Dancers and Vocalists. This year's top nominees are Stoneman Douglas High School with 24 nominations, including 19 for its musical production of Annie, and The Sagemont School in the play category with 10 nominations for Frankenstein.

2017 Cappies Nominations by School:

American Heritage School - 10

Archbishop McCarthy High School - 10

Boca Raton Community High School - 13

Cardinal Gibbons High School- 5

Cooper City High School - 1

Coral Glades High School - 6

Cypress Bay High School - 7

Deerfield Beach High School - 7

Dillard Center for the Arts - 7

JP Taravella High School - 14

North Broward Preparatory - 9

Palm Beach Central - 5

Pine Crest School - 2

Piper High School - 6

Pompano Beach High School - 2

Saint John Paul II Academy - 2

St. Thomas Aquinas - 4

The Sagemont School - 11

Somerset Academy - 8

South Plantation High School - 8

Stoneman Douglas High School - 24

University School of Nova Southeastern University -18

West Boca High School - 10

West Broward High School - 5

Western High School - 2

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