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Cappies Go National with Local Shows

<bt>The Cappies, a program started by two Fairfax County theater professionals to recognize the talent and accomplishments of high school students, has gone national.

A company of some 42 students, 15 of them from cities such as Cincinnati, assembled in Fairfax County this week to audition and rehearse at Centreville High School before they present three consecutive productions.

Each will first be presented in Sunday-evening previews at Centreville High School, followed by a Monday-night performance at the Kennedy Center.

The first, titled “Starz!,” a musical revue of songs and play sketches, opens this Sunday, July 20, at Centreville High School, to be followed with a performance at the Kennedy Center on July 21.

On July 27-28, “Playz!,” a festival of comic shorts about and by what Strauss refers to as “today’s Millennial teens,” will be presented.

The third and final presentation, “GoGoBeach,” is an original rock ‘n' roll musical about teenagers in the 1960s.

The 15 cast members from out of state come from Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri and Texas.

They are staying with host families in the area. “The host families were so eager, we had what looked like the NBA draft” to select them, said Strauss.

Locally, the students come from Fairfax County, including McLean, Madison, West Springfield, Lake Braddock, Hayfield Secondary and other high schools, as well as schools in the metropolitan area such as Walt Whitman in Bethesda, T.C. Williams in Alexandria and Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C.

The cost to each student is $750 for the program, which includes workshops for theatrical instruction between the performances.

Host families also receive $300 to help defray expenses for the out-of-town students.

Strauss, of McLean, founded the Cappies program in 1999 along with Fairfax County theater arts resource teacher Judy Bowns.

They hosted the teens at a barbecue in McLean on Saturday and a party at the Old Firehouse on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, they took the students to the Mall in Washington and walked from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, stopping along the way to visit museums, said Strauss.

When the visiting students finished the walking tour, he said, they gathered around in impromptu fashion, with one of them pulling out a pitch pipe to establish the notes for a cappella harmony, and they drew a crowd of onlookers by singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Strauss said the selection process for participation “has integrity. We are developing the next level of actors,” he said, by building the skills and confidence of some of the most talented young students in the country.

Bowns said the company is “like a real-life ‘Fame’ meets ‘American Idol’ for teenagers."

Tickets for the Kennedy Center performances, priced at $20, are available at www.kennedy-center.org.

Tickets for the Sunday-night previews at Centreville High are $10.

For more information, visit www.cappies.com/cnt on the Internet.