The Harlequin Dinner Theater's production of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" is overwhelmingly goofy, but that might not be a handicap if you're in a silly mood.

The actors negotiate the stage like a herd of elephants and wear crazed grins with bugged-out eyes. But they make up in versatility for what they lack in grace: During intermission, some of them hawk subscriptions and others take your drink orders. It's all oddly engaging.

Mary Ellen Nester, a seasoned veteran of theatrical buffet, attacks the title role with zest and good humor in this rags-to-riches musical by Richard Morris and Meredith Willson. William I. Howe, as Molly's silver- charmed mate, Leadville Johnny Brown, is blessed with a booming baritone -- which he can miraculously sustain at top volume all evening -- and with the blandly handsome aspect of a Dudley Doright.

The rest of the cast -- miners, showgirls, society folk, cops -- is well-intentioned and energetic, swinging from the depths to the heights of raucousness with the greatest of ease. James Fouchard's sets are cleverly conceived.

As for the cuisine, the unpeeled shrimp is troublesome, but you might try the prime rib. THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN -- At The Harlequin Dinner Theater, 1330 Gude Drive in Rockville, through October 31. 340-8515.