Arts Alive: Cappies Review of Annandale High School's Production of For the Love of Three Oranges

By Communications and Community Relations Staff
Spotlight
November 11, 2019

Fairfax County Public Schools students are talented actors, musicians, and visual artists. Many FCPS high schools participate in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre, otherwise known as the Cappies.

The Cappies is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. There are fifteen Cappies chapters across the United States and Canada. 

Editor's Note: This review of Annandale High School's production of For the Love of Three Oranges is written by Julia Tucker of Westfield High School. 

A sickly prince slumps under his coverlet, his muscles too deteriorated to move, his lungs too weak to laugh. The only thing he anticipates is his imminent death, which has loomed over him and his kingdom for the past two years. When it becomes clear that no doctor can save the prince, the king employs his last resort: a clown. One lifesaving laugh later, the now vivacious prince dons his DIY tinfoil shoes and embarks on a quest of love, deceit, and glory. Mount your trusty steed and join Prince Tartaglia on his adventure in Annandale High School's uproarious production of For the Love of Three Oranges.

Annandale's production of For the Love of Three Oranges—while based on Carlo Gozzi's Comedia scenario written in the 1700s—was adapted specifically for Annandale's Theatre Company. Rooted in the Italian comedy style of Commedia dell'arte, the play features characters with strong archetypes and a plethora of exaggerated movements. The comedy follows Prince Tartaglia after being enchanted to fall in love with not one, but three oranges. To follow his love, Prince Tartaglia and his friend Truffaldino the Clown set off on a journey across the land in search of the fabled three oranges.

Annandale's entire cast moved with purpose while maintaining decisive characters. The actors not only knew their blocking but connected their movements to their characters to craft intricate stories beyond the dialogue. Moreover, the performers all exuded passion and happiness to perform, especially evident in exciting scenes that involved the entire cast.

Tarik Darwiesh shined like stage lights on aluminum as Prince Tartaglia. Darwiesh's articulate voice resonated throughout the vast performance space, even when delivering quick and slapstick banter. Truffaldino the Clown, played by Nia Collins, could be found hilariously eating an orange while a battle raged on around her. Even when she out of the spotlight, Collins trail-blazed a way to remain involved in the action. Stray eyes always found their way back to Darwiesh and Collins, whose engaged facial expressions and boundless energy made them the perfect duo for any death-defying quest.

Princess Clarice (Jewel Coulter) and Leandro's (Jack Dalrymple) outlandish comedy made being bad look good. Jessup Gravitt played the frail King Silvio. Gravitt's hunched back and shaky, cane-holding hand made the audience sure that he was going to croak at any minute. Makayla Collins' (Princess Ninetta) wide-eyed look and fanciful voice swiftly captured the hearts of the audience. The righteous Celio Mago the Wizard (Han Le) and the scheming sorceress Fata Morgana (Mariam Sesay) personified the contrasting forces of good and evil. Both actresses displayed impressive dancing in their climactic battle sequence choreographed by Han Le.

The versatile set crafted by Lynni Do and Max Boyd was deftly converted to suit the needs of any scene. Scene transitions were smoothly completed by Stephanie Manco and Nani Brown. Al Tran and Makhi Jackson's lighting design defined the focus of every scene and incorporated fun elements such as strobes, moving gobos, and color symbolism. The costumes aligned with the hair and makeup (Max Boyd) to suit each character's traits. By mixing modern and period props, the props team (Rebeca Zeballos and Alex Chounramany) fluidly transformed Commedia dell'arte into the modern era without ripping out its roots in renaissance-era Italy.

If you are on a quest for love, look no further than Annandale High School's production of For the Love of Three Oranges: it might just blow you away!