For Gary Landon Wright, who plays the fresh-faced 16-year-old hero in "Take Me Along," the show's run at the Kennedy Center is something of a sentimental journey.

In 1979, about to become a high school senior, Wright spent a summer in Washington as an intern for Rep. Andy Ireland (D-Fla.), attending hearings, answering mail and in general preparing for what he thought would be a career in law. But that same summer he saw "Annie" at the National Theatre -- his first big Broadway show -- and was smitten with show business.

"I had diddled with acting in high school -- that's what really got me into law -- but after I saw 'Annie' I thought, why not be honest and do what I really enjoy?" says Wright, who at the age of 23 has no problem convincing audiences he is a teen-ager.

He managed 2 1/2 years of prelaw courses in college before seeking his fortune in New York, and since then has worked fairly regularly. "It seems the WASP-y young male is one thing the whole world is short on," he says. This year he did his first TV commercials, and is considering a move to the West Coast for a career in films and television.

For the time being, though, "Take Me Along" is occupying him full time. He invited Ireland's entire office staff to see the show during the first week and hopes to visit the congressman soon. "He went to so much trouble to introduce me to the field of law," Wright says. "I hope he isn't too disappointed."