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"The Washington Post", November 25, 2002 -" The best thing about creativity is that it's free. Well, almost free.

BAPA's Imagination Stage - formerly the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts - hosted its 24th annual benefit Saturday night at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville. The evening raised $120,000 for Imagination Stage, an arts center for children, and attracted parents and kids, including BAPA actress Casey Hammeke and executive director Bonnie Fogel.

But someone's got to pay for it, which is why the Annette and Ted Lerner family and the Albert Abramson family were honored for their longtime support. Family members were presented with replicas of the plaque bearing their names that will be displayed in BAPA's new performance center, opening next spring in downtown Bethesda. The Lerners sprang for a cool million, which means their name will be on one of the theaters. "Now that we have our name on the door, we'll be showing up quite often," laughed Marla Tanenbaum, a member of the family.

To jazz up the 300 guests, the gala featured Imagination troupe members, including Katie Oberlander and Lauren Brades. "Mrs. Foggybottom" (aka Joan Cushing) crossed the District line to sing with Maryland State Sen. Ida Ruben.

"It really is fun to get up there and let your hair down," Ruben said as she patted her famous bouffant. "No pun intended."

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