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With unbounded energy and clear, beautiful voices, Stimulus's Free to Be You and Me conveys a message that is as relevant to grown-ups as it is to the children for whom it was written. While the show, which played before a group of schoolchildren yesterday and runs tomorrow and Saturday night, never apologizes for its strong opinions about gender roles and human relations, it also doesn't preach. Instead, through an engaging series of performances, actors taught the audience basic truths in songs like "It's Alright to Cry" and "Parents are People." A skit called "William's Doll," for example, attempted to break the stereotype that only girls play with dolls, and "When We Grow Up" encourages boys and girls to be happy with themselves. Although the show was designed as an alternative to traditional children's education, University students who see the show will find plenty to amuse them. Arts and Sciences graduate student Jef Johnson, who doubled as the Quaker mascot as an undergraduate, enlivened many skits with his physical humor -- a cross between the styles of Pee Wee Herman and John Cleese. College senior Margi Drinker's frustrated baseball player and College sophomore Jen Marlowe's "tender sweet young thing" showed two different, equally entertaining views of little-girlhood. And Nursing junior Lara Vecchiarello and College sophomore Derek Braslow were adorable as a pair of babies trying to figure out what sex they are. All the performers at yesterday Bodek's Lounge performance, overflowed with the carefree energy of children at play, singing and dancing with a sense of fun so contagious that anyone who grew up listening to Marlo Thomas' Free to Be, and many people who didn't, will find themselves humming the tunes after they leave the theater. Braslow said he enjoys being in the production because he can act like a child. "I can be a kid again," he said. "My character is myself as a child." Cast member Carolyn Kaelson said she thinks the show's message is as relevant today as it was in the early 1970s when it was first performed, adding that she has seen children agree with the stereotypes Free to Be attempts to dispel. She added that one skit, "The Southpaw," told the story of a boy who won't let his best friend, a girl, play on the neighborhood baseball team because of her gender. "All the little fourth and fifth grade boys in the audience were cheering for him," said Kaelson, a College sophomore. Stimulus Children's Theater was formed four years ago as a community outreach program, and they still perform primarily for children, traveling to local schools and the Ronald McDonald House. Free to Be You and Me runs Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m. in the High Rise East Rathskellar.

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