Sneak peek: Chicago Children's Theatre's "Goodnight Moon"
We got a behind-the-scenes peek at Chicago Children's Theatre's upcoming musical adaptation of Goodnight Moon this week when they invited us to sit in on the first rehearsal, where the cast and crew revealed a stunning set, beautiful costume designs and plans for a high-energy performance of the classic bedtime story that should do everything but put audiences to sleep.
Director David Kersnar, a founding ensemble member of Lookingglass Theatre Company, explained why Margaret Wise Brown's classic 1947 book resonates with generations of readers. "Kids don't want to miss one second of the magic," he said. "It's too much for a little mind to contemplate saying goodnight to that great, green room [and all the things in it] and possibly never seeing it again. We need someone like the old lady in the book to comfort us and say 'hush.' That's why we return to the ritual of Goodnight Moon over and over again."
The production opens CCT's 2011-2012 season, playing October 27–December 23 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theatre. Besides Kersnar, who directed Lookingglass' acclaimed musical "Sita Ram" in 2005, the creative team includes musical director Mark Messing, the director of "circus punk marching band" Mucca Pazza doing musical arrangements, and choreographer Tommy Rapley from House Theatre.
"This is Goodnight Moon Chicago-style," said CCT artistic director Jacqueline Russell, who decided to bring the show here after seeing a production by Seattle Children's Theatre. "We want to honor the fact that everyone knows this book by heart, but at the same time we really want to surprise people and create an experience that they can only have in the theater."
Set designers Rick and Jackie Penrod's designs, which they previewed here, stay true to the book's illustrations. "The book and what it looks like are ingrained in everyone's heads. Trying to pretend that it isn't would be a mistake," Rick Penrod said. But the Penrods inserted a little extra magic in the set, too, with a beautiful, star-studded universe eventually making way for that great, green room and a large moon that will be an integral part of the story.
Props, too, will be straight from the book, but they'll be animated. "Everything that we can make move is moving," said props designer Jesse Gaffney. "The whole room comes alive."
Costumes walk the fine line between ironic and cute, a nod to all ages in the audience. "All the animals in the book become 'people animals' on stage. so we need to make adjustments and make them all really fun," costume designer Alison Siple said during her presentation.
The show runs one hour–perfect for ages 3 and up, according to Russell, but "so rich that a seven- or eight-year-old or even a 48-year-old is going to appreciate it," she said.
Click here to see the performance schedule for Goodnight Moon and purchase tickets.