Backstage obsession, paranoia, lies, and one too many martinis? Welcome to the world of Margo Channing, a walking, talking theater diva in the most quintessential sense. W.T. Woodson's recent production of "Applause," a 1970s musical based upon the 1950 Academy Award-winning motion picture "All About Eve," took you through an episode of Margo's life -- one full of all the elements that make up a delectable and witty story.

"Applause" follows, almost exactly, the story line of the 1950 film classic, which painted a realistic and dramatic portrait of show business and backstage life on New York's Broadway. Margo Channing, played by Woodson's Jill Rizzuto, is a 40-year-old ruling, but fading, actress, a true star. One night after a performance, Margo befriends a desperate fan named Eve Harrington (played by Lauren Calhoun), who seems at this moment just to be a quiet, humble, star-struck observer.

Taking pity, Margo grows closer to Eve, allowing her into the social groups and cliques of her glorious life. As Margo's personal assistant, Eve soon has complete access to and organization of her life. When Margo soon sees that Eve's control and obsession seem to be somewhat more than those of a typical fan, she blows up in a dramatic dinner party scene that leaves her closest friends, including supposed fiance Bill Sampson (played by Ari Post) bitter and disgusted.

Rizzuto possessed just the right kind of sass, grace and attitude for a character that once was played prestigiously by Bette Davis and Lauren Bacall. Calhoun's Eve displayed perfectly the demeanor of a conniving wannabe. Eve's vocal ability also revealed itself tremendously in the song "One Hallowe'en."

Lighting was consistent, and the sets, although cumbersome at times for the scene changers, were simple and ideal in design and decoration -- displaying the colorful era of the 1970s.

Often the show had projection problems, in which complete songs or scenes of dialogue just could not be heard. However, the dedication, persistence and perseverance by every single performer made the show enjoyable.

Woodson's production of "Applause" proved that divas aren't meant to be messed with. Margo said it just right: "Fasten your seat belts . . . it's going to be a bumpy night!"

Andrew Hawkins

Annandale High School

What is the sound of paranoia, success, betrayal and fame? It's none other than W.T. Woodson's "Applause," a musical composed by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams that revolves around a mature diva, Margo Channing, who appears to have all the glories of a stage star. Fame, adoring fans and applause are at her disposal -- but is there nothing more to life?

It takes a sly rising starlet named Eve Harrington to steal Margo's career in order for the diva to see the flaws in her life. Through the show, the audience gradually grows familiar with the true Eve and the wry but washed-up Margo.

In Woodson's recent production, Jill Rizzuto, playing Margo, proved herself capable of capturing the character's sardonic tone. As her (supposed) biggest fan, Eve, Lauren Calhoun conveyed the conniving character well; her portrayal of Eve's feigned innocence was believable to the point where she had the audience as fooled as the stage characters were. Ari Post, as Bill Sampson, upheld the character's cocky aura, cool mannerand confident stride -- until fights with a paranoid Margo wrought havoc on both their lives.

The second act opened with a surge of energetic fever. As a witty playwright, Jay Richardson whipped out a ukulele and entertained well in "Good Friends." Richardson maintained comic timing throughout.

The loud live music often drowned out the voices of the actors. Despite frequent sound difficulties, however, Calhoun projected her melodic voice so well that the audience was able to hear her over the music. She captured the moment in "One Hallowe'en," when Eve revealed herself.

A convertible set piece was creative, although sometimes scene changes were a little slow. Margo's wardrobe was extravagant and flowing, matching her character. Eve's dress changed along with her transformation of personality, and the retro-era costumes of the cafe gypsies were colorful.

Through character revelations, Eve's deception and spunky songs, it all ended -- in applause!

Sara Aultman

Hayfield Secondary School

Jill Rizzuto, left, playing the diva Margo, and Lauren Calhoun, as the ambitious Eve, provided good contrast and conflict in W. T. Woodson High School's production of "Applause."