In the beginning there was Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater, a Rockville restaurant with video games and a 12-foot hippo perched on a piano bar singing "Hello, Dolly."

Not enough? Need more bells, buzzers and bright lights with your semi-fast food? Welcome to Capt. Andy's River Towne Restaurant, a combination theme park and restaurant that opened in Wheaton Plaza this week.

The main course here is not food but fun. Fourteen computer-controlled characters, including a banjo-playing dog, singing kittens and the Captain's own hippo in a pink satin gown, perform on a 54-foot stage in the rear of a restaurant designed to resemble a riverboat.

There is also an arcade room just inside the entrance with skeeball, cartoons and current video games. This is less a restaurant than a Las Vegas casino, complete with three floor shows per hour, for children.

"They will keep themselves entertained," said Ann Rogers who brought four-year-old Michelle and three-year- old Tony to the Grand Opening. "But you can't come up here every night, the kids would be breaking the bank."

This is the second River Towne Restaurant opened by Animated Playhouses Corporation of Rockville in the Baltimore-Washington area.

CAPT. ANDY'S RIVER TOWNE RESTAURANT -- Wheaton Plaza, University Boulevard and Veirs Mill Road, is open Friday and Saturday from 11 to midnight and Sunday through Thursday from 11 to 11. The menu includes pizza, fried chicken, sandwiches, a salad bar, potato skins, nachos, beer and wine. Prices range from 90 cents for a slice of plain pizza to $11.95 for a River Towne pizza combo or $10.85 for a family chicken platter, which includes 10 pieces of chicken, fries and biscuits. No cover, no minimum. Call 933-6766.