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Aspects of Theatre / Award Category Guide

Here, presented in the same order as listed on the Critics' Choices - Post Show Evaluation form, are the aspects of each show that you are evaluating and writing about in your review (excluding Marketing and Publicity). These are also the Cappies award categories that you make Critics' Choices for and score. Mentors also use this Guide to determine eligibility for awards. Show Directors use it as well – to understand what information Critics need to have prior to a show, to establish eligibility in some categories, and, if they wish, to let the cast and crew members of their Cappies shows know what you (as a Critic) will be looking for.

The Four Evaluation Factors

The following four factors are the basis for evaluating each aspect of a show/award category. For a high overall rating, several of these factors should leave a favorable impression. Was the work of high quality? Was it creative? Did it offer a range of expression? Was it difficult? If you can say "yes" to all four, or an emphatic "yes" to at least two of these factors, then a high score can be warranted. Conversely, if you feel the answer is "no" for all four, then a low score is warranted.

  • Presentation
    Whatever the category – sound, orchestra, ensemble, dancer, lead, song – simply ask: How good was it? How effective? How entertaining? In technical categories, you need to score the candidate only, so you may need to differentiate carefully between the work of the student(s) and the work of other people. Your own view is key here, but audience response and other-Critic opinion can help inform your own judgment.
  • Originality
    How original and creative was it? Did the candidate make the work distinctly his or her own? Did the performer's character strongly resemble that in a well-known film? Were the sets or costumes exactly what you would have expected, for that show (or time period)? Was there any aspect of the performance or crew work that was inventive, unusual, or surprising? When the show was over, were you still thinking about the intelligence of the craftsmanship (of a character, humor, vocal styling, props, costumes, sets, lighting design, etc.)?
  • Range
    What was the range of expression? Did the candidate attempt – and achieve – different elements of theatrical work? Did a performer present more than one aspect of a character? Did a lead set more than one kind of mood in different scenes? Did a vocalist sing numerous kinds of songs – for example, a touching ballad and an up-tempo number? Did a set designer produce two very different looks on stage? Were the costumes well-selected in more than one period? Were there several kinds of special effects, or just one? Was the ensemble work funny in one scene, heartfelt in another?
  • Difficulty
    What was the degree of difficulty? Whatever the candidate did, was it hard to do? Were the songs easy or hard to sing? Were the characters easy or hard to find? Given the script, did the performer get laughs the easy way, or the hard way? Was the set very basic, or did it involve careful engineering and delicate finishing work? Were the costumes rented or hand-made? Was the sound crew dealing merely with a few cues, or with the swapping of a dozen body microphones whose volume had to be balanced against a full orchestra? On the whole, was this a tough show to do, or a relatively simple one?

Marketing and Publicity

Marketing and publicity refers to the publicity campaign for the produced play or musical. The materials or description of campaigns must be available to the Critics prior to the show and must be the original work of a student of group of students in grades 9 through 12. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • graphic design, 
  • poster, 
  • program, 
  • web site or social media, 
  • press release, 
  • trailer or other media, or 
  • lobby display.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done.

Keep in mind:
The caliber of the marketing and publicity should show a cohesive theme, a high level of artwork, an understanding of 'what sells', and should be attractively displayed.

Look and listen for:
Appeal.
What was the quality of the presentation? Did it have eye-appeal (ear-appeal, if applicable)?
Originality. Was it original and creative?
Variety. Were there a variety of examples and types of publicity?
Difficulty. What was the overall degree of collective difficulty?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.
9 or 10: A full scale marketing and publicity campaign showing numerous (five or more) examples of media at the highest design level.
7 or 8: A marketing and publicity campaign showing at least four types of media from the seven suggestions above and/or something not listed, all at a very high level of design.
5 or 6: A marketing and publicity campaign showing at least three types of media from the seven suggestions above and/or something not listed, all at an average or slightly average high-school level of design.
3 or 4: A marketing and publicity campaign showing at least three types of media from the seven suggestions above and/or something not listed, all at an average or slightly below average high-school level of design.
1 or 2: A marketing and publicity campaign that clearly does not display the understanding of the concepts of marketing or publicity.

Sound

Sound refers to the technical aspects of sound, including amplified sound, sound effects, and music not performed by live musicians. The extent of sound amplification, the frequency and timing of sound cues, the visual aspects of the placement of sound equipment, and the use of sound equipment by performers are factors. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students, in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible.

Keep in mind:
The question is not purely whether the performers can be heard, and you should evaluate amplified sound only. The nature and extent of the challenge faced by a sound crew can be very different, from show to show, and some theatres can pose special sound challenges. Nearly always, sound is more difficult in a musical than in a play, and scoring should reflect this. A play that uses no microphones, has a few sound effects, and has no sound errors should not be scored as high as a large musical with a dozen shared wireless microphones and a few sound errors. For a play, a high score should only be awarded if it poses technical sound challenges that are handled well. If the cast projects well with unamplified voices, which can be reflected in performer, ensemble, or overall play scores, but not here. In large musicals, small mistakes should be forgiven, especially if good adjustments are made. If mistakes recur, or are not quickly corrected when they happen, that should be reflected in the scoring.

What you are evaluating is the sound design and the work of the sound crew, not necessarily the overall quality of sound. Almost anything can affect sound quality – the size of the cast, the size of the theatre, the number of people in the audience, the speaker placement, the number of microphones the school could afford, even the costumes and prop. Squeaks and bumps can be a performer's fault. If a voice cannot be heard well, that can be as much the result of a performer's lack of projection and articulation as it is of the work of the sound crew. You are evaluating the work of the sound crew only.

Look and listen for:
Amplification. Is the sound amplified just about right – or is it too loud, too soft, or uneven?
Clarity. How well can you hear performers' lyrics or words in amplified songs or dialogue?
Errors. What missed sound cues, static, whistles, bumps, or other errors can be reasonably concluded to have been partly or fully the result of the sound crew?
Microphone placement. Are the microphones located well? Do they look good on performers? Are they situated cleverly to minimize errors?
Adjustment to space. How well did the sound crew adjust to the special needs or challenges of the theatre?
Sound cues. Do sound cues add to the atmosphere of the story? Are there any unusual or hard-to-execute sound cues?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.
9 or 10: There is substantial amplification with nearly no sound problems, which are hardly noticeable and never detract from the show, along with creative sound effects and/or design which enhance the show.
7 or 8: There is substantial amplification with occasional sound problems, which are noticeable but seldom detract from the show with appropriate sound effects or design which enhance the show.
5 or 6: There is substantial amplification with some sound problems, which are noticeable but at times detract from the show – or little or no amplification and creative sound effects or design which enhance the show.
3 or 4: There is substantial amplification with numerous significant sound problems, which are noticeable and occasionally detract from the show – or little or no amplification and sound effects which neither enhance nor detract from the show.
1 or 2: A show with substantial amplification has constant sound problems, often detracting from the show – or little or no amplification, with occasional sound flaws.
 

Lighting 

Lighting incorporates the design and execution of stage lighting, including lights that are part of any sets, costumes, props, or still-projection (gobo) special effects. Factors to consider are the timing and coordination of light cues, and the use of lit areas by the cast on stage. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible.

Keep in mind:
Basically, if it lights up, then it's lighting. Lights do not need to command attention to be done well. They just need to work with the show. Some shows require flashy lighting, and others must be done more subtly. The key issue, always, is whether scenes are well lit. Try to distinguish between performer and crew error. If a performer is out of place, there usually is nothing a lighting crew can do about that. You may need to discern the difference between the light cue being incorrect and the performer going to a wrong location. (One skill of a good performer is one who moves fluidly into his light even when a cue is wrong.) All factors are important here – and keep "degree of difficulty" in mind.

Try to take into account what the performing school has in the way of lighting fixtures. Usually, you can see them from the audience, if you look around from your seat (or, better, look briefly from the front of the house during intermission or after the show). The more fixtures a school has available, the more options it has for using lighting creatively. Some schools have "intelligent" lighting fixtures that can move, change color, and have cutout patterns (gobos) that can be controlled remotely, through cues written before the show.

Look for:
Execution. Are the light cues well timed? Is the lighting well synchronized with the performance? Do spotlights hit their targets? Are any blackouts intentional?
Tint and Color. Is color used appropriately and well? Does the color reflect the time of day or mood of the moment?
Effect. Does the lighting create or enhance a scene? Does it help establish a mood? Do the lights correctly reflect the situation, emotion, and time period of a scene?
Complexity. Do the lights change frequently? Are there multiple effects?
Functionality. Can you see the performers well (especially their faces)? Are performer faces lit to look good? If their faces are in shadows, or have a flat or washed-out quality, might that reflect an artistic decision?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.
9 or 10: The lighting is complex and fits the show perfectly, with well-timed cues, well-lit performers, and very creative effects, significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The lighting is complex and fits the show nicely, with errors that are hardly noticeable, and interesting effects, nicely fitting the performance
5 or 6: The lighting is appropriate and fits the show, with errors that are hardly noticeable, fitting the performance… or, if simple, is very well done.
3 or 4: The lighting fits the show fairly well, with some noticeable errors in cues or lighting of performers, and workable effects, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The lighting does not fit the show well, with several noticeable errors and no helpful effects, detracting from the show.

Sets

Sets refers to the design, construction and finishing work on all scenes, including back walls, stage trim, furniture, and every physical item other than lights, costumes, and hand-held props. All design work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. A majority of the construction and finishing work must be done by students, but some adult participation is permissible, especially as required to ensure performer safety. Furniture need not be made by students. Crew work (in set changes) is not a factor.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done.

(In the past if the set design was done by an adult then no set award was possible even if the students did all the building.)

Keep in mind:

The set must fit the show's theme and mood. Sets can be elaborate or minimalist, realistic or cartoonish. Any style can work, and the most complicated set isn't always the best kind. The set should first fit the show, and then impress. Many shows will have unit sets that require no scene changes, and others will have multiple or moveable set pieces. That involves an artistic decision, but the more complex the choices, the greater the challenge for set designers and builders. Some shows may be enhanced by creative and original set pieces, while others may call for a highly traditional look. A well-designed set will allow for nimble stage crew work. If the crew work is slow or awkward to watch, that may be, in part, a reflection on the quality of the set design and construction.

The size of a stage, and a school's budget, can influence set choices. A small stage, or lack of wing space, can preclude a large set or multiple complex shifts. A set designer who works brilliantly with a difficult space or small budget should be scored accordingly. In shows (for example, in black boxes) with no more than a very basic set design, even if the set pieces work perfectly, the lack of difficulty, originality and creativity, and range of expression will preclude a high score.

Look for:

Aesthetics. Is the set enjoyable to see when the stage is empty? Does it make the show more enjoyable to watch? Does it help make the show unique? Are there any unconventional set pieces that add to the flavor of the show?

Theatricality. Are the set pieces consistent within an artistic concept? Do they correctly suggest a time period, location, and situation?

Usefulness. Does the set work in the show? Are there multiple entrances? Are there levels and divisions? Are they cleverly positioned? Does the set provide varying looks, for different scenes? Does the set add to the flow of the show?

Construction. Is the set well-crafted and nicely decorated? Are the details well-tended and interesting? If the goal is realism, does the set achieve that? If the goal is something else, does the set achieve that other goal?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The set has a quite complex design, was very challenging to build, is aesthetically superb, fits the show perfectly, allows creative staging options, is well crafted and decorated down to the smallest detail, and significantly enhances the show. 
7 or 8: The set was somewhat challenging to design and build, is aesthetically pleasing, enhances the show, allows varied staging options, and is well crafted and decorated.
5 or 6: The set was somewhat simple to design and build, fits the show nicely, allows some staging options, and is fairly well crafted and decorated… or, if simple to design and build, supports the show.
3 or 4: The set fits the show fairly well, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The set does not fit the show well, detracting from the show.

Costumes 

Costumes refer to the design, assembly and making of costumes, and the speed of costume changes. Costumes are defined as anything worn by performers, including hats and footwear. All design and assembly must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. A significant proportion of the costumes must be designed and acquired or made by students specifically for the show. Some non-student-made costumes (for example, costumes that are rented, made by parents, drawn from a school's costume collection, and/or borrowed from elsewhere) are permissible, but only if a list of rented or adult-constructed costumes is provided to Critics prior to the show.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done. 

Keep in mind: 

Differentiate carefully between student and adult work, and between rented or borrowed costumes and hand-made costumes – which can be more creative and difficult.

Look for: 

Theme and period. Do the costumes demonstrate continuity in theme? If costumes are intended to be realistic, do they succeed at that? If the intent is cartoonish, do costumes succeed at that? Are costumes correct to the period, season, and location of each scene?

Character. Do costumes effectively single out lead characters? Do costumes help differentiate various groups of characters or ensembles? Do costumes help define the characters' personalities? Do costumes help distinguish age, gender, income class, or other character differences?

Aesthetics. Are the costumes eye-catching? Are there any beautiful costume moments?

Quality, functionality, and speed. Are the hand-made costumes well-made? Do costumes help conceal microphones? Do they fit well with the set and lighting? Are costume changes quick, especially for ensembles?

Quantity, variety, and creativity. How many costumes are there? How many of those are hand-made? How original are the costume concepts?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty. 

9 or 10: The costumes – many of them made by students specially for this show – are superbly designed, beautiful to watch, fit the show perfectly, and significantly enhance the show.
7 or 8: The costumes – some of them made by students specially for this show – are well designed, pleasant to watch, and enhances the show.
5 or 6: The costumes are well-designed, nice to watch, fit the show, and complement the show.
3 or 4: Some costumes are well-designed, nice to watch, and a good fit for the show, while others are not.
1 or 2: The costumes do not fit the show well, detracting from the show.

Make-Up 

Make-Up refers to the design and execution of all facial (and other) cosmetics, hair, nails, and props (for example, fake noses, ears, hands, or feet) attached to performers' bodies. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. The extent of make-up done by specialist (as opposed to performers doing their own) must be identified to the Critics before the show.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done. 

Keep in mind: 

In many shows, performers do their own make-up, requiring less pre-show preparation. The purpose of this category is to recognize make-up specialists. The basic purpose of stage make-up is for facial definition, to keep performers from looking too washed-out under the lights, and to make them look the age of their character. Some of the best make-up can be the least noticeable. Other times, make-up can help a performer create and shape a character. Special touches can be used for unusual looks (wigs, noses, scars, feet), unusual characters (animals, aliens, fairies, monsters), or unusual situations (blood, dirt, wounds, scars, tears). Those touches can be hard to do well. When evaluating make-up, look closely in scenes with strong lighting, where differences in quality are especially noticeable. All four of the evaluation factors should be considered equally here.

Look for: 

Definition. Does the make-up show faces well in normal stage lighting?

Believability. Does the make-up help define characters? Does it reflect their ages?

Special or unusual touches. Is there any special make-up for unusual characters or conditions? If so, is it believable? Or, if the artistic choice is to be cartoonish, is that well done?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty. 

9 or 10: The make-up exceptionally well done, fits the characters perfectly, includes some difficult and well-executed special touches, and significantly enhances the show.
7 or 8: The make-up is well done, fits the characters reasonably well, includes special touches that are well executed, and nicely complements the show.
5 or 6: The make-up is generally well done, fits the characters reasonably well, includes some special touches that are well executed, and nicely complements the show.
3 or 4: The make-up fits the characters fairly well, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The make-up does not look good and does not fit the characters well, detracting from the show. 

Props 

This aspect of theatre refers to the design, construction or collection, and use of student-designed props that are neither sets nor costumes (that is, handled by performers but not attached to their bodies). Examples include, but are not limited to, weapons, food, beverage containers, and live animals. This work must be specifically identified to Critics prior to a show. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. The quality of performer-use of props is a factor, but a performer who uses props and effects (for instance, a puppeteer or magician) may be considered only if she/he assisted in the design and/or construction of the props.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done. 

Keep in mind: 

Some scripts pose challenges that can be daunting for any show, especially one on a budget. Creative props can provide solutions to those challenges, making a show more fun and interesting. Usually, the prop crew can only provide what's in the script or what little can be added without deviating from the script. Depending on the show, props can be workable, extensive or few, realistic or fanciful, overlarge or miniaturized, serious or comical, appealing to the eyes or appealing to other senses. They can range from the startling and amazing to the predictable and merely workmanlike. Note that the selecting and handling of live animals are included here. All four evaluation factors should be equally considered.

Look for: 

Theme and period. Do the props work well within the script? Do they demonstrate continuity in theme? If props are intended to be realistic, do they succeed at that? If the intent is cartoonish, do they succeed at that? Are they correct to the period, season, and location of each scene?

Aesthetics and illusions. Are the props eye-catching, or aesthetically pleasing in other ways? Do they create interesting illusions?

Quality and functionality. Are the props handled well? Are they sturdy?

Quantity, variety, and creativity. How many props are there? How many are hand-made? How original and imaginative are they in design and execution?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty. 

9 or 10: The props are extensive, creatively designed and superbly executed, convey the script perfectly, and significantly enhance the show.
7 or 8: The props are well-designed, suit the script well, and complement the performance,… or, if minimal, are creative and superb and significantly enhance the show.
5 or 6: The props suit the script well and, whether extensive or minimal, neither add to nor detract from the show.
3 or 4: The props suit the script fairly well, and may at times detract from the show.
1 or 2: The props do not fit the show well, detracting from the show.

Special Effects and/or Technologies 

This aspect of theatre refers to the design, construction, or collection of special effects and/or technologies that are neither sound nor lighting. Examples include, but are not limited to, video, magic, fog, aromas, projections, and digital effects. This work must be specifically identified to Critics prior to a show. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. The quality of performer-use of effects is a factor, but a performer who uses effects (for instance, a magician) may be considered only if she/he assisted in the design and/or construction of the effects.

Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done. 

Keep in mind: 

Some scripts pose challenges that can be daunting for any show, especially one on a budget. Creative special effects can provide solutions to those challenges, making a show more fun and interesting. Special effects are sometimes required by a script, and other times added as stagecraft. In some schools, their use can be limited by building codes and smoke detectors. Depending on the show, effects can be workable, extensive or few, realistic or fanciful, overlarge or miniaturized, serious or comical, appealing to the eyes or appealing to other senses. They can range from the startling and amazing to the predictable and merely workmanlike. Note that video light projections are included here. All four evaluation factors should be equally considered.

Look for: 

Theme and period. Do the effects work well within the script? Do they demonstrate continuity in theme? If effects are intended to be realistic, do they succeed at that? If the intent is cartoonish, do they succeed at that? Are they correct to the period, season, and location of each scene?
Aesthetics and illusions. Are the effects eye-catching, or aesthetically pleasing in other ways? Do they create interesting illusions?

Quantity, variety, and creativity. How many special effects are there? How original and imaginative are they in design and execution?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty. 

9 or 10: The effects are extensive, creatively designed and superbly executed, convey the script perfectly, and significantly enhance the show.
7 or 8: The effects are well-designed, suit the script well, and complement the performance,… or, if minimal, are creative and superb and significantly enhance the show.
5 or 6: The effects suit the script well and, whether extensive or minimal, neither add to nor detract from the show.
3 or 4: The effects suit the script fairly well, but may at times detract from the show.
1 or 2: The effects do not fit the show well, detracting from the show. 

Stage Management & Crew (2013-14 Replacement)

Stage Management & Crew refers to the speed, silence, invisibility, and/or entertainment aspects of scene, set, and furniture changes, and all other stage management, whether visible or not. Stage management & crew also may refer to the completeness & organization of the materials provided by the stage management & crew that were used during the rehearsal process. All work must be done by or under the direction of one student or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible.

Keep in mind:

Stage crew work is very apparent in shows, and can be highly variable. Some shows have enormous moveable sets, while others have unitary sets. Some have frequent set changes, while others make changes only at intermission (or not at all). Some use the stage crew visibly, either in shadows or full light, dressed in black or in costume, perhaps as their own ensemble, while others use performers to move set pieces. In shows that close the curtain to make elaborate scene changes, some have action taking place downstage of the curtain, while others have a musical interlude. Some set changes are silent, while others are audible. Some move set pieces on rollers, while others involve stage rotation, or the flying in of large pieces. Every scene change has cues, at the start and end, and those cues should be promptly handled. In some shows, the best crew work is work you never notice. In other shows, the best work is something you very much do notice, and enjoy watching. Regardless of type of show stage management & crew are also responsible for being the king pin of communication during the rehearsal process, creating rehearsal reports, recording blocking, managing the schedule & keeping things running smoothly. When looking at the stage management and crew work in a show it is important to remember that the management of these components during the rehearsal will lead to a smooth run of the show. That work continues during the performance in every show, good stage crew work should contribute to the flow of the story, and not get in the way. If stage crew members are visible or audible when they should not be (for instance, making offstage noise), that should be considered. If a problem arises (for example, if the cast drops a prop, or if a set is damaged), see how that is handled by the crew. Consider any aspect of the show that is within the responsibility of the stage manager to prevent or control.
Look and listen for:
Execution. Does the crew do its work quickly and efficiently? Is the crew energetic and agile? Is the movement of large or cumbersome pieces as silent as can be reasonably expected? Are set pieces handled nimbly, without damage?
Cues. Do each scene change start briskly at the end of a scene, and does the next scene start briskly as soon as the last piece is moved?
Creativity. If the crew work is visible, is it entertaining to watch? Do the crew members function well as an on-stage ensemble? If performers are moving set pieces, do they move them in character?
Stagecraft. If the curtain closes to conceal crew work, does the show continue downstage of the curtain while the set pieces are changed? If so, does the work in any way distract attention from whatever is taking place downstage of the curtain?
Adjustments. If any problems arise with any set pieces, are they swiftly and effectively fixed?
Offstage comportment. During scenes, are cast and crew in the wings and upstage areas silent and out of sight, never distracting the audience's attention?
Rehearsal materials provided. Do the rehearsal reports contain detailed reports? Did the scene change plots have clear and detailed information on them? Did the prompt book have easy to follow and complete cues in it?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The crew work is difficult, creative, and very well-executed, swift and silent, hitting all cues, causing no distractions, and significantly enhancing the show. Rehearsal documentation is provided to show clear, detailed & complete organization and communication from the Stage Management team.
7 or 8: The crew work is challenging and uniformly efficient, and enhances the show. Rehearsal documentation provided and thorough.
5 or 6: The crew work is uniformly efficient and complements the show. Rehearsal documentation provided neatly compiled but perhaps few in number or lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
3 or 4: The crew work is efficient, with a few noticeable flaws, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show. Rehearsal material provided is loosely organized but perhaps lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
1 or 2: The crew work is not well done, with numerous noticeable problems, detracting from the show and no documentation is provided that the stage management & crew completed organized or clear assistance during rehearsal.


(For Split Categories Stage Management and Stage Crew 2018-19)

Stage Management

This category incorporates the effectiveness and timing of all cues. In addition to the performance, the stage management should be evaluated on the evidence provided in the Cappies Room. e.g. prompt book, rehearsal reports, pre/post show checklists.

All work must be done by or under the direction of a student stage manager or a student management team, but adult guidance is permissible.

Keep in mind: Regardless of type of show stage management is responsible for being the head of communication during the rehearsal process, creating rehearsal reports, recording blocking, managing the schedule & keeping things running smoothly. When looking at the stage management in a show it is important to remember that the management of these components during the rehearsal will lead to a smooth run of the show. During the production, Stage Managers call every light cue and sound cue during a production and work closely with the head of the stage crew backstage to keep the production running smoothly in and out of scene changes. 

 Look and listen for:
Execution/Cues. Do the light cues change on beat with music? As soon as set pieces are finished moving on or off stage the lights come up and the scene begins? Are there pauses waiting for sound or light changes?
Organization. Is it clear from the tech board that the stage manager had a clear organization system for communication with the cast? Had a clear way of organizing the rehearsal information (blocking, choreography, etc.)?
Rehearsal materials provided. Do the rehearsal reports contain detailed reports? Did the scene change plots have clear and detailed information on them? Did the prompt book have easy to follow and complete cues in it?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

 9 or 10: The stage management is difficult, creative, and very well-executed, swift and silent, hitting all cues, causing no distractions, and significantly enhancing the show. Rehearsal documentation is provided to show clear, detailed & complete organization and communication from the Stage Management team.
7 or 8: The stage management is challenging and uniformly efficient, and enhances the show. Rehearsal documentation provided and thorough.
5 or 6: The stage management is uniformly efficient and complements the show. Rehearsal documentation provided neatly compiled but perhaps few in number or lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
3 or 4: The stage management is efficient, with a few noticeable flaws, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show. Rehearsal material provided is loosely organized but perhaps lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
1 or 2: The stage management is not well done, with numerous noticeable problems, detracting from the show and no documentation is provided that the stage management completed organized or clear assistance during rehearsal.

Stage Crew

This category incorporates the effectiveness, smoothness and timing of scene and prop changes. In addition to the performance, the stage crew should be evaluated on the evidence provided in the Cappies Room e.g. shift plot, fly rails, tracks, special effects (confetti cannon).

All work must be done by or under the direction of a student crew head or a student team, but adult guidance is permissible.

Keep in mind: Stage crew work is very apparent in shows, and can be highly variable. If a problem arises (for example, if the cast drops a prop, or if a set is damaged), see how that is handled by the crew. Consider any aspect of the show that is within the responsibility of the stage crew to prevent or control.

Look and listen for:
Execution. Does the crew do its work quickly and efficiently? Is the crew energetic and agile? Is the movement of large or cumbersome pieces as silent as can be reasonably expected? Are set pieces handled nimbly, without damage?
Creativity. If the crew work is visible, is it entertaining to watch? Do the crew members function well as an on-stage ensemble?

Stagecraft. If the curtain closes to conceal crew work, does the show continue downstage of the curtain while the set pieces are changed? If so, does the work in any way distract attention from whatever is taking place downstage of the curtain?
Adjustments. If any problems arise with any set pieces, are they swiftly and effectively fixed?
Offstage comportment. During scenes, are cast and crew in the wings and upstage areas silent and out of sight, never distracting the audience's attention?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10 : The crew work is difficult, creative, and very well-executed, swift and silent, hitting all cues, causing no distractions, and significantly enhancing the show. Rehearsal documentation is provided to show clear, detailed & complete organization and communication from the Stage Crew team.
7 or 8: The crew work is challenging and uniformly efficient, and enhances the show. Rehearsal documentation provided and thorough.
5 or 6: The crew work is uniformly efficient and complements the show. Rehearsal documentation provided neatly compiled but perhaps few in number or lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
3 or 4: The crew work is efficient, with a few noticeable flaws, neither enhancing nor detracting from the show. Rehearsal material provided is loosely organized but perhaps lacking in detail or not clear or detailed.
1 or 2: The crew work is not well done, with numerous noticeable problems, detracting from the show and little to no documentation is provided that the stage management & crew completed organized or clear assistance during rehearsal.


Orchestra

Orchestra refers to a group of musical accompanists that performs not less than six full songs, as accompaniment to vocalists in a play or musical, and will be evaluated for tone, pitch, authority, balance, pace, performer support, and other factors of musicianship that may contribute to a successful show. An orchestra may be a combo, band, orchestra, or any other group of not less than 3 musicians, of whom not less than 80 percent are students in grades 9 through 12. (A four-member orchestra must be all students, a 5- to 9-member orchestra may have one adult, a 10- to 14-member orchestra may have two adults, etc.) A conductor who is an adult and does not play an instrument will not be included in this percentage. Whether the score is performed as written for professional orchestras, or as simplified for student orchestras (by the publisher or by the school's own music director) is a factor. If not otherwise specified, Critics will assume that the score has been simplified for student use.

Keep in mind:
Different scores have different degrees of difficulty. Scores that have been simplified for use by school orchestras are less difficult than those that have not. The mere fact that a school's music director may have altered some parts does not necessarily mean that they have been simplified. There are two ways to evaluate orchestras: to listen to them carefully – and not to try to listen to them at all, and see if what they do stands out, in either a positive or negative sense. At various points in a show, you should try to do both.

Listen for:
Command, intonation and technique. Does the orchestra play with confidence, in tune, flawlessly? Do all the notes sound right – or, if not, was that the composer's intent?
Phrasing. Does the orchestra interpret the music nicely? Does the music flow naturally? Are solo lines well articulated? Do they sound smooth? Does the music make sense?
Dynamics. Does the orchestra support the singers and not overpower them? Is the sound well- modulated, loud when it should be loud, and soft when it should be soft?
Style. Does the orchestra play in the style of the score, and period of the story?
Blend. Do all sections of the orchestra play complement each other, and blend well with each other? Does no section dominate too much? Are any instruments (over-amplified guitars and electric basses, drums, horns) often too loud?
Entrances and cut-offs. Does the orchestra start songs well, and have strong, solid finishes?
Support. Does the orchestra adjust to early or late entrances, vocal errors, or sound problems?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.
9 or 10: The students play a challenging score with superior execution.
7 or 8: The students play a difficult score with excellent execution or a less challenging score with superior execution.
5 or 6: The orchestra complements the show with few errors.
3 or 4: The orchestra sometimes distracts/overwhelms the show and/or makes several errors.
1 or 2: The orchestra frequently distracts/overwhelms the show and/or makes numerous errors.

Choreography

Choreography refers to the design and teaching of dance choreography, stage combat, and/or other synchronized on-stage movements. To be eligible, a show must have a majority of its musical numbers, stage combat, and/or synchronized scenes designed and taught to performers by a student, separate students, or a small group of students in grades 9 through 12, but adult guidance is permissible. Performer execution of the choreography is a factor. The entire set of student-designed choreography will be evaluated as a whole. Some adult choreography is permissible, as long as its location in the show is clearly identified to Critics in advance.

Keep in mind:
This category pertains to synchronized stage movement, not to the simple blocking of performer locations or the creation of stage pictures. It encompasses the design and teaching of choreography, and you cannot separate what was designed from what was taught, so you can only evaluate what you see. The success of the ensemble, or individual dancers, in carrying out the movement is what you should evaluate. The four required factors are equally important. Creative touches are important, but there may be times when the best choreography will bring to mind the original Broadway production. The larger the number of dancers, the more challenging it is to do difficult choreography.

Look for:
Dance technique. Are the dancers following the proper technique for that style of dance? Are toes pointed? Are legs straight? Is the dance done crisply? Are everyone's gestures tightly coordinated, so the entire ensemble looks like one dancer doing the move?
Rhythm, timing, and showmanship. Does the movement stand out? Does it grab your attention? Is the dance tight to the rhythm, with a good start and finish?
Complexity and extent. How complex are the movements? How lengthy are the segments with movement? How many performers are involved?
Use of stage and props. Are the dancers using all the stage, and using sets and props creatively?
Suitability. Does the movement suit the ability of the dancers? Do the performers make it natural and easy? Does the movement suit the show, and reflect the time period of the story? How well does the movement help tell the story? Does it make sense, where it occurs?
Size of ensemble. How many dancers are doing any choreography? Difficult choreography?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The movement is of superior design, complex, executed energetically, cleanly, and significantly enhances the show.
7 or 8: The movement is very well designed, challenging, executed energetically, cleanly, and enhances the show.
5 or 6: The movement is well designed, interesting, and presented well, nicely complementing the show.
3 or 4: The movement is presented fairly well but with some noticeable problems, sometimes detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The movement is either not well done or very simple (or both), and presented with frequent noticeable problems, detracting from the quality of the show.

Creativity

Creativity refers to creative achievement – by a student or group of students in grades 9 through 12 – not encompassed in another category. Only one creative achievement may be identified as the Critics' Choice in each Cappies show. Areas of creative achievement include, but are not limited to:

  1. (A) Musicianship; (B) Composing; (C) Lyric Writing; (D) Play Writing; and (E) Directing. Guidelines for evaluating these areas of creative achievement are given below and on the following pages.


Significant documentation that clarifies the student versus adult contributions for each aspect of the work is strongly recommended. If either component (design and/or execution) is primarily student done, then the production is eligible for an award in that technical category, assuming that there is substantial documentation to prove that element was student done.
This applies to each of the Creativity categories: Musicianship, Composing, Lyric Writing, Play Writing, and Directing.

A. Musicianship

This creative achievement refers to student-playing of an instrument in solo segments, an individual or group playing on stage during a production,  in at least two songs, totaling not less than 60 seconds. The songs including solo segments by the student musician must be identified to the Critics before the show.

Keep in mind:
Nearly always, this category will apply to a musician who performs as an on-stage soloist, rather than as part of an orchestra pit. If so, listen more carefully than you watch. Very slight and subtle variations in performance can separate an excellent from a good musician. You do not need to be a skilled musician yourself to detect this, but you do need to pay very close attention. If a musician is also a vocalist, with two or more solos, he or she may also be considered in that category.

Look and listen for:
Command. Does the musician command attention as a soloist?
Intonation and technique. Does the musician play in tune? Does the musician play flawlessly?
Phrasing. Does the musician interpret musical lines nicely? Do the musical lines fit naturally? Are they well articulated? Do they sound smooth? Does the music make musical sense?
Style. Does the musician's style fit the show?
Theatre. Is the musician enjoyable to watch, as a performer? (This will not apply, if the musician is not on stage.)

B. Composing

This creative achievement refers to student composition of at least 3 songs for a Play or Musical. The songs written, or orchestrations made, by a student composer must be identified to the Critics before the show.

Keep in mind:
In a musical, the music is central to the show. In a play, any music should add to the show. Composition is a difficult task that requires a special skill set. Orchestration is an even more advanced skill. The simple fact that a student is composing and, perhaps, orchestrating songs, is itself an achievement. Composing songs suitable for vocalists (and lyrics) is a somewhat different task than composing pure music.
If a candidate qualifies as a Composer, Playwright, Lyricist, and/or Musician, under the above definitions, the candidate can be evaluated in only one of these aspects, in which case the quality of the other aspects will not be a factor.

Look and listen for:
Instrumentation and orchestration. Are the songs written for several instruments, and do those instruments complement each other well, and blend together well?
Melodies and harmonies. Is the composing interesting melodically? Are the melodies memorable? Do the set the proper tone for the moment? Is the music interesting harmonically (the kinds of chords used, and progression from one chord to another)?
Context. Is the music appropriate to the moment? To the character? To the time and place of the setting of the show?
Range and structure. Does the music have variety, from song to song? Within individual songs? Does the music have a logical musical progression?
Originality. Does the music sound original, or too derivative? Does it sound too much like anything you recognize?
Fit to lyrics. If there are lyrics, how are they set, rhythmically and melodically? Do the musical lines require any distortions of natural speech patterns?
Vocal range and support. If there are vocalists, are some sounds set too high or too low? Does the composer give the vocalist proper places to breathe?

C. Lyric Writing

This creative achievement refers to student lyric writing of at least 3 songs for a Play or Musical. The songs written by a student lyricist must be identified to the Critics before the show.

Keep in mind:
It is not hard to write song lyrics. Nearly anyone can do this, to some degree. The challenge lies in separating good or excellent lyrics from everyday ones. A lyricist needs a real feel for the language, and for music. The best lyrics combine poetic rhythms and rhymes with clever word play, an effective use of emotions, and a solid craftsmanship, with words fitting very comfortably to music. The very best lyrics join with a well-designed composition to produce a song that sticks in your head as you leave the theatre.

Look and listen for:
Subject: Are the songs interesting? Do they speak broadly? Are they original ideas?
Context. Are the songs and lyrics well-placed? Do they fit the moment? Do any of the songs advance the story? Are the lyrics appropriate to whatever time period is required? Do the lyrics convey what the story needs to convey?
Emotion. Do the songs convey emotions effectively? Do characters start singing at points in the story where it feels natural and even necessary?
Balance and range. Is there a good variety of types of songs – ballads, comedy songs, rhythm songs, charm songs, aggressive songs, dance songs, other types? Is there a good mix of solos, duets or trios, and ensembles? Are songs spread well among the characters?
Fit to the characters. Are the lyrics appropriate to the characters? Do they convey emotions, and use words, that are believable for the characters?
Fit to the music. Do the lyrics fit naturally and comfortably with the musical lines? Do they bring to mind the natural flow of speech, set to music?
Rhymes. Is there an interesting use of rhymes – end rhymes and inner rhymes? And is there an interesting occasional use of unrhymed lyrics?
Vocabulary. Are the words smart and interesting? Are the lyrics poetic, or heightened speech? Do the lyrics follow the natural rhythms in the language?

D. Play Writing

This creative achievement refers to student play-writing of not less than one full act of a Play or Musical, totaling at least 40 minutes.

Keep in mind:
Writing a play takes perseverance, but not necessarily great skill. What is hard to do, and what takes great skill, is to write a play that makes you truly look forward to act two, to see what will happen – and then, when it's over, you keep thinking about the story and characters on the way home. The challenge is to separate the quality of the writing from the quality of the performances (and directing).

Look and listen for:
Story. Is it a good one, told concisely? Does it offer an interesting perspective on questions larger than the story itself? Is there a logical dramatic arc to the story? Is any conflict plausibly constructed, and just as plausibly resolved in the end? Is every member of the audience allowed reach his or her own conclusions (or is the story "preachy")?
Lead characters. Are the lead characters believable and interesting? Are the lead characters draw your interest, either because they are likeable or for other reasons? Are they who and what they seem to be? Are their social and psychological aspects well developed? Are they consistent within themselves and within the story? Do they develop (have a "character arc") over the course of the story?
Secondary and ensemble characters. Are the secondary characters helpful in advancing the story? Is there a good mix of characters? Do their subplots provide a useful contrast, whether comic relief or something else? Are their varying aspects – young or old, male or female, people of different wealth, ethnicity, nationality, or religion – effectively portrayed?
Scenes. Are the scenes well structured – comic scenes, tragic scenes, combat scenes, highly emotional themes? Do the scenes flow well, one to the other?
Stagecraft. Do interesting things happen onstage? Does the story break at the right spot, between act one and act two?
Musical aspects. In a musical, is there a good balance between dialogue and musical sections? Do some of the songs advance the story? Are the songs sincerely presented, by the characters? 

E. Directing

This creative achievement refers to student-directing of all aspects of an entire show, including casting, tech work, sets and costumes, blocking, and scene and character direction, with minimal guidance from a theatre teacher or other adult.

Keep in mind:
Occasionally, a student is given the title of "director," but still is, in effect, an assistant to an adult show director. For a student to be eligible for this award, the show must be directed almost completely by that student. In fact, as well as in name, the student must lead a group of their peers, create among them a cohesive team of actors and technicians, and make and execute decisions about creative concepts, casting, tech, costumes, blocking, rehearsals, scene and character development, and all other elements that go into a production. This is a very large challenge for a student.
All four factors apply here, in roughly equal measure. Consider many of the same aspects as for the Play or Musical categories, except (apart from casting choices) you cannot hold the director accountable for every individual performance. Ask yourself, through the show, whether you are noticing director issues more than you usually do at shows. If not, then the student director may be doing good work. If you find yourself thinking "this is a great show," and not "this is a decent show, considering it's student run," then the student director may be doing very good work.

Look and listen for:
Show choice and casting. If the director chose the production, is it one within the capability of the cast and crew to do well? Has the show been appropriately cast? Do the actors suit their characters?
Staging. Was the show well staged? Did the director use the space of the theatre and the set to enhance to production? Did the staging help tell the story? Does the staging look planned and rehearsed?
Character work. Do the performers look like they were given direction? Do they look sure about where to be and what to do? Are the characters sharply defined, and developed well? Do lesser characters (and less talented performers) have fully developed characters? Do performers exhibit good on-stage chemistry and appear to work well together?
Pace. Does the show move briskly? Are cues well-timed? Is crew work quick and efficient?
Musical aspects. If the show is a musical, how well are the songs integrated in the story?
Technical aspects. Are sound, lighting, sets, costumes, and other tech aspects used to enhance the story line? Are these items used to an appropriate degree? (Or could the show have made do with more of them – or less?)
Originality. Is this production unique in significant ways? (Or does it look like other productions of the same show – or a movie – that you may have seen?)

For all creativity categories consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The creative element is of superior quality and significantly enhances the show, and nearly all of the above questions can be answered with a clear "yes."
7 or 8: The creative element is of excellent quality and enhances the show, and nearly all of the above questions can be answered with a clear "yes."
5 or 6: The creative element is of good quality and enhances the show, and many of the above questions can be answered "yes."
3 or 4: The creative element is basic and answers some of the above questions can be answered "yes."
1 or 2: The creative element is not well executed, and only a few of the above questions can be answered "yes."

Ensemble (Play / Musical)

Ensemble refers to a distinct and recognizable group of performers who frequently (at a minimum, in more than one scene) appear on stage together as an intended/named unit, but it may not include the entire cast, or an adult in a prominent role. A majority of the ensemble performers must be students in grades 9 through 12. In a Musical, the Ensemble must be supporting in at least one song. In a Musical, this award is intended to recognize a chorus, although other ensemble groups are eligible. As long as they appear together, they may represent different character groups. For example, the Winkies/Ozians in "The Wiz", the secretaries in "Thoroughly Modern Millie," or the villagers/utensils OR the Silly Girls in "Beauty and the Beast." Though the ensemble may include a performer eligible for a lead category, the ensemble may not solely consist of leading actors e.g. The Jets (yes, All of them) are OK. The Delta Nu's can be an ensemble even though Elle is among them.


Keep in mind:
Ensembles can be large or small. They can include performers (in supporting or lead roles) who may have a key identity wholly apart from the ensemble. An ensemble usually provides some counterpart to the story – humor, intrigue, or jolts of energy. It works best when it functions as a team, with good dynamics and chemistry among its members – but can include well-defined individual characters. Of the four factors, quality of presentation matters most. An ensemble can be distinctly un-original, while lending a useful flavor specific to the period of the story. Usually, an ensemble need have less range of expression, or character arc, than individual performers. What it is at the start may be what it remains at the end of the story. Achieving good dynamics with a two- or three-person ensemble may be less difficult to with a larger group. In a musical, an ensemble should have a significant musical role, with at least one song in which it is defined and supporting. It might also participate in several other songs, lending strong harmonies – and aggressive (perhaps humorous) dance sequences.
Look and listen for:
Character and story. Does the ensemble have its own distinct identity? Does that identity serve the purposes of the story?
Style and period. Does the ensemble convey a particular style or period? Is it eye-catching?
Comedy. If humor is part of the ensemble's purpose, is it funny – vocally, facially, and physically?
Energy and measure. Does the ensemble bring useful energy to its scenes – and give a measured performance, not going "over the top" and providing too much of a good thing?
Vocals and dance. If the show is a musical, does the ensemble sing well, with strong voices and good harmonies? Does it dance well, with coordinated movements?
Cohesion and focus. Does the ensemble work well as a team, with good group dynamics? Do ensemble performers give proper focus to individual performers, when required?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The ensemble is distinct, and engaging, with high energy and outstanding dynamics – and, in a musical, has superior vocal and dance skills – significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The ensemble is distinct with high energy and solid dynamics – and, in a musical, has excellent vocal and dance skills – nicely complementing the show.
5 or 6: The ensemble is distinct with good energy and solid dynamics – and, in a musical, has good vocal and dance skills – nicely complementing the show.
3 or 4: The ensemble is distinct – and, in a musical, has inconsistent vocal and dance skills – neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The ensemble is distinct but uneven – and, in a musical, has weak vocal and dance skills – detracting from the show.

Featured (Actress/Actor)

A Featured performer creates and defines a memorable character, in a role that may OR may not have significant stage time, character presentation, and involvement in the story line. A role that is too small to qualify as Supporting will qualify as Featured. Examples in a musical are: Grandmother Berthe in "Pippin", Freddy in "My Fair Lady", and Marcellus in "The Music Man".

Keep in mind:
A role cannot be too small – but can be too large – to qualify as Featured. A Featured performer can dominate one long scene or two short ones, and can have a minor role in several other scenes. More than that is too much to be considered Featured – and qualifies the performer as supporting. When two performers comprise an ensemble, with roughly equivalent stage time, they must either be both deemed Featured performers, or both deemed supporting (or comic) performers. In a musical, a Featured performer may have some solo lines, and may be part of a duet if the other vocalist is supporting more, but not as an equal part of the duet. Originality and creativity in the crafting of a role can often be the key factor here.
If the same performer creates more than one different Featured role in the same performance, select the most memorable of those roles, and score only that, disregarding other roles by the same performer. If no Featured role is in fact "memorable," none should be selected and scored.

Look and listen for:
Character. Does the Featured performer create an interesting character, with a distinct identity, that serves the purposes of a scene – or the story?
Impact. Does the Featured performer make a quick, vivid, and lasting impression?
Voice, physicality, and comedy. Does the Featured performer have a distinctive voice and physical gestures? If humor is part of the character's purpose, is the Featured performer funny – vocally, facially, and physically?
Energy and measure. Does the Featured performer bring useful energy to a scene – and give a measured performance, not going "over the top" and providing too much of a good thing?
Focus. Does the Featured performer give proper focus to other performers, when required?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The Featured performer creates an engaging character with distinct qualities and superior execution while making a very vivid impression – and significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The Featured performer creates a dynamic character with distinct qualities and excellent execution, bringing energy, making a solid impression – and nicely complementing the show.
5 or 6: The Featured performer creates an interesting character, making an impression – and slightly enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The Featured performer creates a somewhat interesting character – and neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The Featured performer creates a flat, uninteresting character that detracts from the show.

Dancer (Female / Male) 

A Dancer is a performer in any role, whether lead, supporting, or featured, who dances, either solo or as part of an ensemble, but who must be supporting, at least briefly, in one or more one dance numbers, but not necessarily as a solo. The dance will be evaluated for movement, expression, timing, technique (for instance, leaps, turns, jumps, or pirouettes), and the effectiveness of their integration. Non-dance movements (including gymnastics) may be considered, if part of a dance sequence. A performer's singing and acting, in dance scenes or elsewhere, are not factors. To be eligible, dancers must be in grades 9 through 12. 


Keep in mind:
To be considered for this category, a dancer should be supporting, preferably downstage, either solo or as part of a small ensemble, for roughly 32 beat counts (four 8-counts), about 15 to 20 seconds. A dancer can be, but need not be, a lead or supporting performer in the show. The dance can be in any style. Stage combat does not make a performer eligible as a dancer, but can be considered in the performer categories. Most dance segments will be of one style, which may not be original. The major issue should be the excellence and difficulty of the dance.
In any musical with substantial dance segments, an effort should be made to rate a dancer of at least one gender, and if appropriate, both.

Look for:
Technical excellence. Does the dancer have technique? If so, is it done well? Are toes pointed? Are legs straight? Are gestures strong? Does the dancer make a hard technique look easy?
Showmanship. Is the dancer drawing you in, entertaining to watch, with strong overall appeal? Does the dancer show confidence, high energy, and good facial expressions throughout?
Style. Does the dancer effectively convey any particular style? If so, is it appropriate to the number and to the show?
Complexity and extent. How complex are the dancer's movements? How lengthy are the segments with movement? How many performers are involved?
Rhythm and timing. Is the dancer tight to the rhythm, with a good start and finish?
Ensemble work. When in an ensemble, are the dancer's movements coordinated with others? Does the dancer appear to provide leadership for other members of the ensemble?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The dancer shows superior technique and performance with challenging choreography, significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The dancer shows excellent technique and performance with challenging choreography, enhancing the show.
5 or 6: The dancer shows good technique and/or performance with less challenging choreography, enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The dancer shows some good technique and/or performance.
1 or 2: The dancer shows a lack of technique and/or performance skill, detracting from the show.

Vocalist (Female / Male)

A Vocalist is a performer in a lead or supporting role who is a principal soloist in at least two songs. A vocalist will be evaluated for tone, pitch, authority, phrasing, characterization, and presentation. The quality of the performer's acting (other than in songs), dancing, and the qualities of the song composition, accompaniment, and sound or other tech work during the performer's vocals, are not required factors. To be eligible, vocalists must be in grades 9 through12.

Keep in mind:
If a vocalist presents a range of musical genres, and has an effective vocal styling, those should be considered positive aspects, as well. First and foremost, ask: Is the vocalist's voice strong, is it on pitch, and does it have good tone? Then ask about articulation, projection, range, character, breath control, vibrato, difficulty of the music, and other factors. As with orchestra, this may be a good category to evaluate by (briefly) closing your eyes and concentrating on listening to the voice.
In any show, for either gender, if any vocalist has a principal solo in at least two songs, then rate at least one vocalist of that gender.

Look and listen for:
Tone and intonation. Does the vocalist have a voice that sounds good, and holds pitch, throughout the vocal range?
Articulation and projection. Can the lyrics be understood easily? Does the vocalist have a strong voice that projects well? If a microphone is used, does the performer handle it well, or cause the sound to be uneven or unwanted sounds to come from the microphone?
Phrasing. Does the vocalist communicating the intent of the lyrics, and the believability of the character, within a song?
Range. Does the vocalist's not strain voice at the top of the vocal range, or lack breath support at the bottom of the vocal range?
Breath control and vibrato. Does the vocalist sings full phrases and not break them up at odd places? Does the vocalist have good control of vibrato – smooth, consistent, not too much (especially in the higher range), and not overpowering the sound of the voice itself.
Character. Does the vocalist sing in character, and change no aspect of that character when singing? Does the vocalist convey that the character believes what is being sung?
Theatre. Is the vocalist enjoyable to watch when singing?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The vocalist shows superior technique and performance with challenging score, significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The vocalist shows excellent technique and performance with challenging score, enhancing the show.
5 or 6: The vocalist shows good technique and/or performance with less challenging score, enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The vocalist shows some good technique and/or performance.
1 or 2: The vocalist shows a lack of technique and/or performance skill, detracting from the show.

Comic (Actress / Actor — Play / Musical)

A Comic actress or actor encompasses a role "reasonably" intended by the playwright to be comedic and will be evaluated for character, movement, expression, and timing. The comic performer should hold a significant presence in at least one scene. Any smaller presence, such as, but not limited to a "one-liner" walk-on role should not be considered adequate for qualification. A role that qualifies for lead or supporting is automatically considered large enough to qualify for comic. Critics should keep in mind that it is more difficult to maintain comedy for multiple acts than for a few moments. Examples would include Leaf Coneybear in " Putnam County Spelling Bee", Agatha in "The Children's Hour", Eulalie Shinn in "The Music Man", and Eugene in "Grease". Examples of characters that would not qualify include Giles Cory in "The Crucible", Bum in "Hairspray", and Grocery Boy in "The Children's Hour". In a Musical, the performer may have, but need not have, vocal lines in any songs. Some plays may not have a significantly comic character. To be eligible comic performers must be in grades 9 through 12.

Keep in mind:
A comic performer must hold a significant presence in at least one scene. In a musical, a comic actor need not be a vocalist in any song. If a comic performer sings or dances, only the comedic aspects of that song or dance should be considered. Comedy can be verbal or physical, wry or slapstick, solo or group. Tech work (sound, costume, make-up, props) can contribute significantly to a comic sequence – in which case, the credit should go there, and comic performers should be credited only with their own humorous persona and antics. Also, do not score on the humor in the script, but rather on the performer's own comedic touches. Originality and creativity deserve extra weight, since those are very important underpinnings for good humor. Don't measure the difficulty. Just measure the laugh.
The bottom line, for comedy, is whether it's funny and makes people laugh. If it makes others laugh, but not you, remember that what you're evaluating is comedic performance as theatre, not as a good fit with your own sense of humor. Be alert to when a comic performer distracts from a story line, draws too much focus from others, or goes "over the top" with humor that seems forced and awkward. Also note, if a role is not intended to be humorous, as written or as interpreted by the director, then a performer should not be selected for this category.

Look and listen for:
Character and story. Does the comic performer create a vivid and amusing character with a distinct identity? Does that identity serve the purposes of any scenes, or of the story?
Style and period. Does the comic performer's humor fit within the style and period of the story?
Delivery and timing. Does the comic performer get maximum impact from humorous lines or scenes?
Voice, face, and body. Does the comic actor use voice, face, and body in humorous ways?
Energy and measure. Does the comic performer bring useful energy to scenes – and give a measured performance, not going "over the top" and providing too much of a good thing?
Focus. Does the comic performer lend comedic focus to other performers (making them funny too)? When humor is not appropriate for a scene, does the comic performer give proper focus to other performers?
Audience response. Does the comic performer make the audience laugh?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The comic performer creates an engaging humorous character with distinct qualities and superior execution while making a very vivid impression – and significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The comic performer creates a dynamic humorous character with distinct qualities and excellent execution, bringing energy, making a solid impression – and nicely complementing the show.
5 or 6: The comic performer creates an interesting humorous character, making an impression – and slightly enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The comic performer creates a somewhat interesting character – neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The comic performer creates a flat, uninteresting character that detracts from the show.

Supporting (Actress / Actor — Play / Musical)

A Supporting Actress/Actor performs in a supporting, but not lead, role with significant stage time, character presentation, and involvement in the story line. A role that is too large to qualify as Featured will qualify as supporting. In a Musical, a Supporting performer may or may not be a principal soloist in at least one song - or not sing at all. To be eligible Supporting performers must be in grades 9 through 12." Examples would be the King in "Once Upon a Mattress" and the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz".

Keep in mind:
A supporting performer does not carry the story, but lends vital support to the story—hence the term "supporting" – and can carry an interesting sub-plot. A supporting performer usually (but not always) has less stage time and character development, and (in a Musical) fewer songs than the leads. The standard should be high. A supporting performance should be persuasive and compelling. All four factors are important. A supporting role may or may not have character arc and require a range of expression. In some shows, a supporting role may be the most creative or difficult role.
Look and listen for:
Character. Does the supporting performer create and hold a believable character? Does that character support plausibly develop, or change, over the course of the story?
Story. Does the supporting performer support the story, and help propel it to a resolution?
Style, period, and age. Does the supporting performer embody the style and period of the story—and the age, ethnicity, nationality, social status, and other elements of the role?
Intensity and nuance. Does the supporting performer have sufficient intensity—and, where required, subtlety and nuance?
Monologue and dialogue. Does the supporting performer deliver lines crisply, audibly, and persuasively—when alone, and when with other performers?
Emotion and physicality. Does the supporting performer use face, gesture, and body, along with the spoken line, to convey emotions effectively?
Comedy, vocals, and dance. When appropriate, is the supporting performer funny? If this is a Musical, does the supporting performer sing and dance at the level required for the role?
Technical aspects. Does the supporting performer use technical aspects well—handling microphones adeptly, standing in the light, wearing costumes comfortably, making full use of the sets, using props effectively, making well- timed entrances and exits?
Focus. Does the supporting performer lend focus to other performers, as required?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The supporting performer creates an engaging character with distinct qualities and superior execution while making a very vivid impression – and (if a Musical) sings and dances with superior technique – significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The supporting performer creates a dynamic character with distinct qualities and excellent execution, bringing energy, making a solid impression – and (if a Musical) sings and dances with excellent technique – enhancing the show.
5 or 6: The supporting performer creates a believable character that supports the story, and (if a Musical) sings and dances well, slightly enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The supporting performer creates a fairly believable character that supports the story somewhat, and (if a Musical) sings and dances fairly well – neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The supporting performer does not create a believable character that supports the story, and (if a Musical) does not sing and dance as well as the role requires – detracting from the show.

Lead (Actress / Actor — Play / Musical)

A Lead Actress/Actor performs in a leading role, with substantial stage time, character development, and centrality to the story line. In a Musical, the performer must be a principal vocalist in at least two songs. To be eligible, Lead performers must be in grades 9 through 12.

Keep in mind:
A lead performer stands at the center of the story, and show, with the most stage time, character development, and songs (in a Musical). The standard should be very high. A Lead performance should be provocative and powerful. All four factors are important. In most shows, a Lead role has the most character arcusually shows the arc of hte character, reveals the greatest range of expression. In many (but not all) shows, a Lead role is the most creative and difficult role.
In a show consisting of a series of vignettes, with no clear Lead character of a particular gender, the dominant performer of that gender may qualify. Every show should have at least one Lead performer.

Look and listen for:
Character. Does the lead performer create and hold a believable character? Does that character plausibly develop, or change, over the course of the story?
Story. Does the lead performer draw you into the story, and then propel the story to a resolution?
Style, period, and age. Does the lead performer embody the style and period of the story – and the age, ethnicity, nationality, social status, and other elements of the role?
Authority, intensity, and nuance. Does the lead performer command the stage with authority, intensity – and, where required, subtlety and nuance?
Monologue and dialogue. Does the lead performer deliver lines crisply, audibly, and persuasively – when alone, and when with other performers?
Emotion and physicality. Does the lead performer use face, gesture, and body, along with the spoken line, to convey emotions effectively?
Comedy, vocals, and dance. When appropriate, is the lead performer funny? If this is a Musical, does the lead performer sing and dance at the level required for the role?
Technical aspects. Does the lead performer use technical aspects well – handling microphones adeptly, standing in the light, wearing costumes comfortably, making full use of the sets, using props effectively, making well-timed entrances and exits?
Focus. Does the lead performer lend focus to other performers, as required?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The lead performer creates and holds a very provocative and powerful character with distinct qualities and superior execution that propels the story, has strong command of the stage all the time, with real intensity and strong emotional content, and (if a Musical) sings and dances with superior technique – significantly enhancing the show.
7 or 8: The lead performer creates a dynamic character with distinct qualities and excellent execution that carries the story, has solid command of the stage nearly all the time, with intensity and emotional content, and (if a Musical) sings and dances with excellent technique – nicely complementing the show.
5 or 6: The lead performer creates a believable character with distinct qualities and excellent execution that carries the story, has solid command of the stage nearly all the time, with intensity and emotional content, and (if a Musical) sings and dances with good technique – slightly enhancing the show.
3 or 4: The lead performer creates a fairly believable character that carries the story somewhat, and (if a Musical) sings and dances fairly well – neither enhancing nor detracting from the show.
1 or 2: The lead performer does not create a believable character, has weak command of the stage, and (if a Musical) does not sing and dance as well as the role requires – detracting from the show.

Song

The Song is the best-performed song in a Musical. A song will be evaluated purely on the basis of its presentation by a cast, crew, and orchestra, including voice, dance, acting, staging, sound and other tech work, accompaniment, and any other elements of the song's presentation. The quality of the composi-tion, lyrics, and adaptation (even if student-done), the extent of student participation in the orchestra, and the quality of any other presentation of the same song (earlier or later in the Musical), are not factors. To be eligible, a song must be in a Musical, and must not include any solo lines by an adult. A majority of the performers with solo lines in the song, and a majority of all performers in the song, must be students in grades 9 through 12.

Keep in mind:
The task here is to select and evaluate the best-performed song in the Musical. That may or may not be the best song, nor the largest, showiest, most amusing, or most famous song. It must be the best-executed song, considering all aspects of performance – including tech and orchestra work. In many Cappies programs, the Song nominees (or Critics' Choice Songs for Musical nominees) will be invited to perform at the Gala. This fact can be a source of inspiration for making a selection, but it should not alter the basic choice among songs, nor how any song is evaluated.
Listen carefully to vocal qualities (tone, pitch, phrasing, vibrato), and watch dance elements just as closely. Listen and look for a song done very well – and, when scoring it, give major consideration to the difficulty in the vocals, dance, orchestration, or technical aspects. Many songs will have little range of expression, and if that appears intended by the composer and lyricist, that is fine. A difficult song that is extremely well presented, but not original in concept, may be selected and scored high. Do not be swayed by audience response. A very amusing ensemble song may be a literal "show stopper," even if it's very easy and done in a sloppy manner, while a brilliantly performed, very difficult dramatic solo or duet may receive far less audience response. Faced with that choice; select the latter.

Look and listen for:
Vocals. Is the song performed well by the soloists? Is it performed well by the ensemble chorus? Can you understand the lyrics well?
Characterizations. Do the soloists and ensemble members sing in character?
Orchestration. Is the song performed well by the orchestra? (See the Orchestra category.)
Dance. If dance is part of the song, is that performed well? Is it sung in character?
Energy. Is the energy level of performers appropriate for the song?
Sound. Is the quality of sound uniformly good through the song?
Other technical aspects. Does lighting, sets, costumes, or other tech work enhance the song?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The song is challenging and performed with superior vocals, characterization, orchestration (if applicable), choreography and technical elements that enhance the song. 
7 or 8: The song is challenging and performed with excellent vocals, characterization, orchestration (if applicable), choreography and technical elements that enhance the song or is less challenging and performed with superior vocals, characterization, orchestration (if applicable), choreography and technical elements that enhance the song. 
5 or 6: The song is less challenging, but performed with good vocals, characterization, orchestration (if applicable), choreography and technical elements that enhance the song. 
3 or 4: The song is performed with some good vocals, characterization, orchestration (if applicable), choreography or technical elements.
1 or 2: The song is uneven with weak vocal, characterization, orchestration and/or technical elements that detract from the show.

Play

Play refers to the performance as an entirety. To be eligible, a show must contain fewer than six musical numbers, sung by the performing cast. It will be evaluated as a production, and the quality of the published work (that is, the work of the playwright) is not a factor. It will be evaluated as a whole, including all on- and off-stage elements. It may not have an adult in any supporting or lead role, and the extent of adult participation in off-stage roles is a factor.

Keep in mind:
You are not in any way judging the playwright's work, nor are you recognizing the success of a well-known play. You are simply judging the quality of this production, measured against the standard of what you might expect of a first-rate high-school production of that play. You may consider any special interpretation of a well-known play – whether the creative choices enhanced or detracted from its overall impact of a show. The four evaluation factors are all important here.
Plays vary somewhat in degree of difficulty, but not as much as musicals. Some involve more difficult character, ensemble, or tech work. Plays that are new or not well-known can be more difficult to do than those that are very well-known, but this is not as important a difference as with musicals. If a play has been made into a rentable movie, it's reasonable to assume that many in the cast and crew have seen that movie and have had a chance to gain pointers from it. In such a case, look for original, creative touches.
Judge the play as a whole: lead and supporting performers, minor characters, ensembles, and all aspects of tech work. Dialogue and character development are more substantial aspects in a play than in a musical, because more time is spent on them, and they are usually more central to the story (and quality of the production). Anything that happens on stage can and should be considered, whether or not student done – but the greater the student work, the more credit should be given. Be careful not to pay too much attention to ovations or other audience response. Good audience energy can reflect a strong show, but not necessarily – and Critics need to look beyond that.

Look and listen for:
Impact. How well does the play work?
Lead performers. How strong and believable are they? Do they command the stage?
Supporting and minor performers. How good are they? Do they support the story well?
Ensembles. How good are they? Do they provide energy and definition to the story?
Drama and humor. How well is the story presented? How persuasive are emotional scenes? If the show has humor, how well does it succeed?
Technical work. How good are all the technical aspects – sound, lighting, sets, costumes, make-up, props, effects, and crew work?
Direction. How effective are the creative choices, casting, blocking, character work, musical direction, dance choreography, integration of tech work, and overall pace of the show?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The play is challenging with superior performances, direction and technical elements
7 or 8: The play is challenging with excellent performances, direction and technical elements or less challenging with superior performances, direction and technical elements.
5 or 6: The play is less challenging with good performances, direction and technical elements.
3 or 4: The play is presented with some good performances, direction and technical elements.
1 or 2: The play is uneven with weak performances, direction and/or technical elements

Musical 

Musical

Musical refers to the performance as an entirety. To be eligible, a show must contain six or more musical numbers sung by the performing cast. Live accompaniment is not required. It will be evaluated as a production, and the quality of the published work (that is, the work of the playwright) is not a factor. It will be evaluated as a whole, including all on- and off-stage elements. It may not have an adult in any supporting or lead role, and the extent of adult participation in off-stage roles is a factor.

Keep in mind:
You are not in any way judging the book, lyrics, or compositions, nor are you recognizing the success of a well-known show. You are simply judging the quality of this production, measured against the standard of what you might expect of a first-rate high-school production of that show. You may consider any special interpretation of a well-known musical – whether the creative choices enhanced or detracted from its overall impact. All four evaluation factors are important here.
Musicals vary in degree of difficulty. Some involve more difficult music than others – or character, ensemble, or tech work. Usually, musicals that are new or not well-known are more difficult to do than those that are very well-known, in part because the cast and crew will not be working off pre-existing models. If a musical has been made into a rentable movie, or has an easily acquired CD, it's reasonable to assume that many in the cast and crew have seen that movie and heard that CD, and have had a chance to gain pointers from them. In such a case, look for original, creative touches.
Judge the Musical as a whole: lead and supporting performers, minor characters, vocalists, dancers, ensembles, orchestra, and all aspects of tech work. Anything that happens on stage can and should be considered, whether or not student done – but the greater the student work, the more credit should be given. Be careful not to pay too much attention to ovations or other audience response. Good audience energy can reflect a strong show, but not necessarily – and Critics need to look beyond that.

Look and listen for:
Impact. How well does the musical work?
Lead performers. How strong and believable are they? Do they command the stage?
Supporting and minor performers. How good are they? Do they support the story well?
Ensembles. How good are they? Do they provide energy and definition to the story?
Music, vocals, and dance. How consistently good are all these core components of a musical?
Drama. How well is the story presented? How persuasive are emotional scenes?
Humor. If the show has humor, how well does it succeed?
Technical work. How good are all the technical aspects – sound, lighting, sets, costumes, make-up, props, effects, and crew work?
Direction. How effective are the creative choices, casting, blocking, character work, musical direction, dance choreography, integration of tech work, and overall pace of the show?

Consider the following examples to score this for presentation, originality, range, and difficulty.

9 or 10: The musical is challenging with superior performances, direction and technical elements
7 or 8: The musical is challenging with excellent performances, direction and technical elements or less challenging with superior performances, direction and technical elements.
5 or 6: The musical is less challenging with good performances, direction and technical elements.
3 or 4: The musical is presented with some good performances, direction and technical elements.
1 or 2: The musical is uneven with weak performances, direction and technical elements