Marlo Thomas' musical creation still rings true

The songs on 'Free to Be É You and Me' may be new to kids today. But anyone who grew up in the '70s and was lucky enough to own a copy of the album likely spent many rainy days belting out its terrific melodies.

Kids Company Northwest Ñ a musical theater group for kids ages 9 to 15 Ñ brings these songs to life in a spunky and charming spring break performance at the Northwest Children's Theater.

'Free to Be É You and Me' was conceived by 'That Girl' actress Marlo Thomas, who created the album for her niece. The 1972 record has loads of great songs about being who you want to be. The album's cast included Harry Belafonte, Carol Channing and football great Rosey Grier, who sings the touching song 'It's All Right to Cry.' The music is catchy and vigorous even when played Ñ as in this current production Ñ by a lone pianist.

The cast of kids does a fine job with the material, opening with 'When We Grow Up,' a song about liking yourself 'as is' Ñ and not sweating over what you might be like when you grow up. 'We don't have to change at all,' the song assures.

The singing is generally quite good, particularly on the numbers 'William's Doll' and 'I Hate Housework,' an anti-consumerism tongue-twister about the way ads portray housework to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

One dramatic scene, in which two ex-best friends write letters back and forth, drags on too long. Otherwise, the production moves along briskly.

Still extremely relevant, 'Free to Be É You and Me' is positive without pandering to its audience. Kids ages 4 and up will be delighted.

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