During the 1999-2000 school year, the Weekly section will publish occasional reviews of high school theatrical performances in Northern Virginia, written by students from other schools under the guidance of professional mentors.

The effort is part of the new High School Critics and Awards Program ("Cappies"), which aims to recognize the achievements of young performers, writers, directors, stage crew and critics. The program is co-sponsored by the Capitol Steps comedy troupe and the NVTA (formerly the Northern Virginia Theatre Alliance), a coalition of three dozen artistic production companies from throughout the metropolitan area.

Eighteen high schools are participating in the program this school year, and each has designated one performance for critical review. In the spring, the program will hand out its first Cappies, the high school equivalent of a Tony award, to honor outstanding local talent in theater, dance and music.

The series begins today with a review of the 1938 Thornton Wilder classic "Our Town," as performed at Hayfield Secondary School.

In future weeks, the Weekly will publish a list of upcoming high school productions. Any area high school--not just those in the Cappies program--may submit a listing by e-mailing us at schoolplays@washpost.com.

Please include the name of the production, the school where it will be performed, the date or dates, and a phone number for additional information.

CURTAIN CALLS:

* South Lakes High School will present "Noises Off!" a London farce, tonight, Friday and Saturday. For information, call 703-715-4589.

* Annandale High School will present "A Christmas Carol," an adaptation of the Dickens classic, tonight through Sunday. 703-642-4100.