There's no doubt about it. Alexandria's Port City Playhouse production of "Pippin," the Broadway musical that featured "Roots" star Ben Vereen, is just plain fun.

Part of it is the energy of the musical itself: It is designed to entice the audience to participate. Part of it, too, is the power of the musical score, which is ably handled by the amateur orchestra.

But the real secret is the troika of solid amateur talent that director Steve Lapiska has placed in leading roles: David M. Meltzer as Pippin, Steve Richey as the Leading Player, and Sarah Holt as Catherine. They combine to take the audience on a journey filled with excitement and laughter.

The tale of a young prince who returns to his father's kingdom after studying abroad, "Pippin" features good voices and lots of energy. But there are shortcomings: The set is not attractive, and the lighting is awkward, at best, and distracting, at worst.

But if the Playhouse production of "Pippin" falls short of Broadway standards, not to worry. It works. And that, after all, is what counts.

"Pippin," presented by the Port City Playhouse, Minnie Howard Auditorium, 3801 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria. Performances through Dec. 11. Tickets are $6 at the door and $5.50 in advance. For more information, call 549-8592. Other productions:

The Arlington Players present "Brigadoon." Lerner and Lowe's musical is the story of two Americans who come upon a mythical Scottish village that appears out of the mist once every hundred years. The Thomas Jefferson Community Theater, 125 Old Glebe Rd., Arlington. Nov. 26 and 27, 8 p.m. No reserved seating. Tickets: adults $5, seniors $4, children $3. 750-0888.

The Children's Theater presents "In One Basket" by Shirley Pugh, a collection of fairy and folk tales performed by and for children. The production includes mime, dances and folk songs. W.T. Woodson High School, 9525 Main St., Fairfax. Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4 and 5, 3:30 p.m. Tickets $1. 691-2671.

Robert E. Lee High School presents "You Can't Take It With You" by Kaufmann and Hart, a comedy set in the 1930s about a family of lovable eccentrics. Robert E. Lee High School, 6540 Franconia Rd., Springfield. Dec. 2 and 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets: adults $2.50, students $2. 971-6000.