Foundation Cappies Scholarship Recipient Lionel McCulloch is a Star in Theater and his Community

Monday, July 1st, 2019
 

By Dianne Anderson

WOW! Who could have imagined a more outstanding student to receive the 2019 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship than Lionel McCulloch of the PA Leadership Charter School’s Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA). The Cappies, an international awards program that trains and recognizes high school theatre and journalism students, has 38 participating high schools in the Philadelphia region. Among the multitude of students recommended for the scholarship, Lionel stood out this year as clearly, the most deserving. 

Lionel with Rachel Wilkin in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown ” at the SRP

Involved in all aspects of theater since the age of four, Lionel has also worked to make theater participation accessible to those less fortunate. He has worked as a summer theater camp counselor at the Steel River Playhouse (SRP) in Pottstown, PA for the past four years and took the lead last summer when he learned that the theater did did not have enough money to provide scholarships for students who could not afford to attend summer camp. He spearheaded the Five Day Teen Challenge Project with the help of his theater friends and produced You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. He publicized, costumed, designed, acted in and directed the show all within a one week period, raising over $2,000 in scholarship money.

Lionel is currently engaged in an effort to involve students in theater who have unique learning abilities. He has been working to help organize a new free community theater in Morgantown, PA at a church near his home. His goal is to accept all students regardless of ability and is looking forward to opening the company with productions this summer.

In the last year alone, Lionel has been involved in a dozen productions at his high school, The Baldwin School and the SRP. He has been an actor, director, assistant director, lighting designer and choreographer. He has worked in tech support and sound design and has been a videographer, photographer and playwright. In addition, Lionel has also been an extremely busy Cappies critic, reviewing a multitude of shows and has been published several times.

Lionel performing as Jimmy Powers in the CPFA’s production of “City of Angels”

His two largest roles this past year were as Henry Higgins in Pygmalian and as Sweeney Todd in the musical, Sweeney Todd at the SRP. Other shows just in the last year at the SRP were Annie Jr. (Asst. Director), The Tempest (Ferdinand), You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown Kids (Asst. Director), The Phantom Tollbooth (Tech Support) and Seussical (Camp Counselor/Lighting Design).

He played the role of Frog in A Year with Frog and Toad with the Theater For Young Audiences Touring (TYA) production at the SRP as well, in which 1,000 students were able to see the production for free.

In The Baldwin School’s production of Hairspray, he played the role of Edna, was Sound Design Assistant and involved in the choreography of that show as well, with the choreography team receiving the Philadelphia Independence Award for Creative Leadership. The year before at Baldwin, he played the role of Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing and was nominated for a Cappies award for Outstanding Comedic Actor.  

He performed as Alonzo in The Tempest and Jimmy Powers in City of Angels at CPFA, again receiving a Cappies nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.

Lionel (L) as Sweeney Todd and his brother, Tiernan McCulloch, as Judge in “Sweeney Todd” at the SRP

Also a distinguished playwright,  Lionel’s original musical, Making Bacon (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs featuring a vegan wolf who didn’t want to eat the pigs), was produced by The Vagabond Acting Troupe a few seasons ago. Lionel has collaborated as a playwright on several other produced works including Dracula: A Cautionary Tale for Children, and a musical version of the 12 Dancing Princesses. Lionel’s play Quantum Suicide was 2nd place winner in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Festival in 2018. 

WOW is right! Lionel is headed to West Chester University this fall. Do we even need to guess at what he will choose to study?

 

__________________________

*The Foundation began awarding a Cappies in 2011, two years after Casey was tragically killed by a distracted driver. Casey was heavily involved in high school theater and became Springfield High School’s (SHS) first lead critic in 2005.  She was nominated for a Cappie herself for best actress at the 2006 Gala for her role as Gwendolyn Pigeon in SHS’s production of “The Odd Couple. Casey accepted the Cappie that year on behalf of the entire Odd Couple cast, which won the Cappie for best play.  In 2010, Casey was awarded an honorary Cappie that was accepted by her parents on her behalf. [Read about our former Cappies scholarship recipients]. 

Lionel in the Teen Challenge production of “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” at the SRP