In a close vote, the May 2022 team’s program – The Merchant of Venice Mock Appeal – edged out the November 2021 team’s program – Whiskey and the Law – to win the Harry Phillips AIC’s Best Program of the Year award. Based on the trial in Shakespeare’s play, the program focused on ethical issues arising from ethnic animus and conflicts of interest related to Shylock’s efforts to collect his “pound of flesh.”
Directed and produced by Donald Capparella and Hank Hildebrand, the trial featured Denice Hicks (“Best Actress”) as Portia; Brian Russell (“Best Actor”) as Shylock; Barbara Holmes (“Best Judge”) as the Duke of Venice; John Spragens (“Best Supporting Actor”) as Bassanio; and Bill Koch (“Most Skin in the Game”) as Antonio. Nick Leonardo and Nick Barris provided “live” color commentary during the trial. Donald Capparella and Hank Hildebrand argued the case on appeal before Judges Neal McBrayer, Anne Martin, and Luther Wright. A distinguished panel consisting of Chasity Goodner, Seannalyn Brandmeir, and Emily Mack presented simulated podcasts providing the legal and historical context for the play. Allison Cooley, Katherine Fischman and Stephanie Williams were the program’s indispensable key grips and stage managers.
The members of the team celebrated their success during a gala dinner on July 19, 2022 at the internationally famous Loveless Café. There are unconfirmed rumors that a major production company has approached the team about taking its program on a national tour.