UHS production, 'The 39 Steps,' receives 10 Cappie nominations

Courtesy Photo: Ashish Streatfield, Natalie Walden and Simran Jain in the UHS production of 'The 39 Steps,' which received 10 Cappies nominations this year.

The Unionville High School theater department continues to garner accolades for its productions as the 2013 Cappie Awards are announced.

This year, the school's fall production of Alfred Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' has received a total of 10 nominations, including Best Ensemble, Comic Actor, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress and Featured Actor.

According to UHS teacher and frequent directoir Dan Lipowitz, the department has received well over 40 nominations since joining the Cappies organization six years ago.

Last year, the school won Best Play for its production of 'Running in the Red.'

'We're very honored,' Lipowitz said of the attention. 'To be nominated is to win; the actual award is just another perk.'

Lipowitz, who directed '39 Steps,' said that the nominations are particularly welcome since it was complicated production to pull off.

'We added several layers of technology – we dropped scrims and we projected images,' he said. 'For special effects, we had a greenscreen, we used shadow puppets – lots of things to enhance the performance. And we tried to make it more fun.'

Lipowitz said that the play is handled like a comedy despite its storyline about an innocent man caught up in the middle of an international spy ring.

'The original movie had some comedic elements in it – Hitchcock always has some humor, even in a murder story,' Lipowitz said.

Recognition for those aspects of the production, Lipowitz said, is one of the things that makes the Cappies so attractive.

'It's not just the acting that gets reviewed,' he said. 'They pay homage to every aspect of student participation – and it is student not teacher participation. For example, I directed the play: therefore, we're not eligible for the directing honor. Adults can be involved but the students have to actually do things. '

The Cappies – or, 'Critics and Awards' – is a student-driven program, through which high school theatre and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers.

Top award honorees from throughout North America are invited to participate in the Cappies International Theatre, where they perform shows at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The regional competition encompasses schools from the five county Philadelphia area – a sizeable pool, Lipowitz said, and a difficult one to achieve winning status in.

'One nomination is an honor and we received 10,' he said. 'I'm extremely proud.'

The 2013 award ceremony is Sunday, May 5 at the Upper Darby Performing arts center.

Below is a total list of UHS nominees for 2013. All nominations are for 'The 39 Steps' fall production.

Sound: Adam Carl, Chris Holden and Libby Wood

Lighting: Amy Gottsegen and Geordie Massih

Props: Karissa Kelly and Sarah Lippman

Special Effects and/or Technology: Alan Dembek

Creativity: Brock Benzel Ensemble in a Play: David Biddle, Charley Bloomfield and the Trenchcoat Ensemble

Featured Actor in a Play: Abu Akki

Comic Actor in a Play: David Biddle

Supporting Actress in a Play: Jackie Tremblay

Lead Actor in a Play: Ashish Streatfield

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