Taking the thought that theater can be a magical experience one step farther, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Goodnight Moon The Musical is full of actual honest to goodness stage magic. In this frenzied adaptation of Margaret Wise Brown’s incredibly popular children’s book, props fly, beds breathe and a friendly family of bears slides out of a wall to play musical chairs.
Of course, children and parents alike can relate to all the schemes that the classic main character, Bunny, utilizes to draw out his bedtime. From requests for stories and songs to the classic need for a glass of water, Bunny and his friend Mouse try everything they can to stay awake. Needless to say, most youngsters will not be helping a timid cow find the courage to jump over the moon or wind up playing games with characters from the paintings on their walls. But having the fantastical events that they have pictured in their minds come to actual life on stage is the major charm of this energetic piece for children – and for everyone still embracing the child in their hearts, as well.
Even with a stage filled with acrobatic splendor by director David Kersnar, Chad Henry’s lively book does seem a bit padded at times. The business is all heart filled silliness, though, and only the most faithful devotees of Wise Brown’s work will find any exception with it. There can be no fault found with Jacqueline and Richard Penrod’s set design. The two bring a colorful museum quality expertise to the affair. Ample help is provided from Alison Siple’s vibrant costumes and Sarah Hughey’s always appropriate lighting cues.
As Bunny, Alex Goodrich is an elastic delight. He is met full on by Becky Poole’s ecstatic mouse. In fact, Poole finds so many quirky underlying motivations to her character that she practically steals the show. Both are given loving, full bodied support by co-stars, Sara Sevigny and Aaron Holland.
Goodnight Moon The Musical runs through December 23 at the Victory Garden’s Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. Tickets are $26-$36 and can be purchased by calling 773-871-3000 or by visiting chicagochildrenstheatre.org. – Brian Kirst