When I was a little girl, I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. Little House... in the big woods, on the banks of Plum Creek, by the shores of Silver Lake, I loved this pioneering family struggling for a better life. Through Laura’s writing, I could visualize it so clearly. So when the “Little House on the Prairie” television series premiered, I was devastated. It was so not the way I pictured it. Translating a beloved book from page to stage is impossible. Or is it?
Chicago Children’s Theatre presents GOOD NIGHT MOON The Musical. In 1947, Margaret Wise Brown published a book about a bunny stalling shut-eye by fare-welling everything in his room. For decades, parents have hushed their children and their children’s children into slumber with this bunny tale. It’s a nightly ritual for families, a gentle moment of quiet contemplation before drifting off to sleep. Now, the kid classic bedtime read has gone 3-D! And it’s *not* a parent’s sleepy time aid. GOOD NIGHT MOON The Musical is an energetic-wake-up-and-play spectacle.
In the lead, Alex Goodrich is a big ole kid! The very tall and animated Goodrich stole my heart immediately but I certainly wouldn’t want to babysit him. The lovable Goodrich is amazing with non-stop, exuberant hi-jinx. It’s his bedtime and he’s all show. Under the direction of David Kersnar and choreography of Tommy Rapley, the talented cast is a constant whirlwind of activity. Not only the song and dance numbers but also all the bedtime buffoonery is just well-orchestrated chaos. It’s fun. It’s playful. It’s magical. Sara Sevigny, Becky Poole and Aaron Holland mouse up, bear down, cow over… the moon. Their multiple roles have the trio moving as quickly offstage as onstage. They tap, jump, run… all with humor and childlike enthusiasm. The combined energy is tearing-through-presents-Christmas-morning pandemonium. It’s happiness unwrapped.
This production could be a pop-up book. Set designers Jacqueline and Richard Penrod recreate the big bright green room perfectly! It’s surreal looking at the oversize book illustration. Unique touches add a little extra oomph to the story fixtures. It is partly puppetry, partly special effects and completely imaginative! Costume designer Alison Siple adds her own twist to the vibrant whimsy. The mouse, cow, and bears are cutesy cuddly. The cat-in-the-fiddle and dish-and-the-spoon are incredibly clever. And the striped pajamas on Goodrich are just adorable.
GOOD NIGHT MOON The Musical is a new family tradition waiting to happen. Put down the book and go see it!
Running Time: Sixty-five minutes with no intermission.
At Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln
Based on story by Margaret Wise Brown
Original book, music and lyrics by Chad Henry
New musical arrangements by Mark Messing
Directed by David Kersnar
Music directed by Andra Velis Simon
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 10:15am
Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 3pm