The history of Washington, D.C. is filled with natural drama - the burning of the White House, the existence of a slave trade in the nation's capital, the Civil War traumas, the machinations of "Boss" Alexander Shepherd, the demonstrations and riots of the last few decades, the fights for home rule and full representation in Congress.

Grace Bradford has fashioned all this into "This is Washington," a likable little musical pageant which is at Ford's Theater through Friday, prios to a trek across the stages of the Districk's public schools.

Bradford's performers are District high school students. Many of them still have more talent than skill. But they have invested plenty of energy into their performances, and Bradford has created some catchy material for them to perform. One singer, Samuel Hardy, sounds ready for the big leagues already.

The cast is divided between blacks and whites. Unpleasant racial history is not overlooked despite the generally upbeat mood.

The second act needs streamlining. First to go should be a distracting number that interrupts the chronological narrative with a recitation of names of notable Washingtonians. The list includes four names of officials of institutions that helped put the show together. Spare us such plugs.

It's a minor slip, however, in an otherwise handsome and inventive tribute to a buoyant and sometimes beautiful city.