His life was theatre.

He was conceived and then born into the shabby Music Halls of London. His childhood was a nightmare by Dickens. His adolescence was a Fred Karno knockabout vaudeville farce. His young manhood was a Mack Sennett chase, and his very private haunted dreams of love and loss were the bittersweet sadness of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale.

And so this is how to tell the story of Charlie, on a theatrical stage of Charlie's imagination, in the language of the particular theatrical style of each era in his youth, from his conception and birth to his apparent triumph in his twenties as The Funniest Man in the World.

His mother's desperate struggle and final madness is a charming ballad sung and danced by a piquant soubrette. His father's descent into whiskey and death is the rousing knees-up hoorah of a vaudeville turn. The terror and pain of the workhouse and the orphan asylum is a Victorian drama complete with pompous Gilbertian autobiography. And above all, Charlie's wistful and doomed pursuit of a love that was always different, and yet always the same, follows the developing styles of his art.

It is never an exact imitation or recreation of a given Chaplin performance, but the life, the memories, the turning points are presented in the appropriate performance style to show how art and theatrical truth, the genius of comedy develop from the nature of memory, pain and tragedy.

"CHAPLIN is what absolutely must become a theatrical gem. Ernest Kinoy's play is verité in action, starkly revealing the sadness and sorrows beneath the grinning face of the classic clown, exquisitely limned by Roger Anderson's score and Lee Goldsmith's lyrics."

— Entertainment News & Views

The score follows the music that accompanied Chaplin's youth, from the tinny pit bands of the English music halls to the wicked rhythm of early American jazz. Never overt pastiche, the songs join with the script to create an impression of the specific entertainment that Charlie feels best serves his take on a particular memory.

Yet a few recreations defy his directorial control: the dark opening waltz of a grim Kennington Road, an ever-present, haunting tune once sung by his mother on the way to the workhouse, a funeral procession too realistic for him, a beachside puppet show turned mad scene.

But then there are love songs that soar a bit too much, exaggerated patriotic anthems, comic ballets, bawdy Broadway burlesque numbers and Hollywood chases, all serving as biography and entertainment.

"CHAPLIN has an often-glorious score by Roger Anderson and touching and funny lyrics by Lee Goldsmith. They capture the spirit of Chaplin's impoverished childhood in London and the origins of an intelligent comedian who somehow knew how to make people laugh through his own sorrow."

— Sarasota Herald Tribune