The bottom line
Based on the classic children's book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, Chad Henry’s adaptation of Goodnight Moon for Seattle Children’s Theatre is a wonderful work of imagination about what could happen before the energetic bunny bids everything good night. The script could well be taken out from a night in my home (probably yours, too).
As you enter the Eve Alvord Theater and take your seat, you are welcomed into Brown and Hurd’s Great Green Room with all details intact: toy house, the red balloon, the picture of the cow jumping over the moon and so on. The magical set is consistent with the description in the book.
As the play opens, the clock announces that it is seven ‘o clock, time for bed. The kind Old lady (Sharva Maynard) reads Goodnight Moon to little Bunny (Matt Wolfe) and Bunny begins to greet all the things she's reading about.
The production takes the lyrics and illustration of Brown and Hurd to a different level, weaving an adventure that might happen before Bunny along the way to bedtime. Each object in the room (red balloon, bears in chairs, mittens, kittens, etc) comes to life via Bunny’s imagination with the help of clever puppetry and engineeering. The clocks dance, the three bears in the picture tap dance and play musical chairs, the cat plays a fiddle and the toy house transforms into a tooth factory, making stars out of kids’ lost teeth.
Other highlights include the cow’s attempts to jump over the moon (kudos to the puppeteers backstage) amidst the fanfare created by the cat (Molli Corcoran), the dog (Auston James) and the dish and the spoon (Sharva Maynard, cast from the premiere of 2007). When there’s this much action, who wants to go to sleep?
My 5-year-old daughter particularly liked the scene where Bunny and the mouse try and wrap Bunny’s tooth for the tooth fairy: Expect lots of tape, paper, mess and laughter!
Wolfe’s portrayal of Bunny — especially in moments where he turns a rocking chair into an imaginary vehicle, or gets excited over his lost tooth — captures a young child with too much energy to even consider resting.
SCT’s Artistic Director Linda Hartzell calls the visually rich presentation of the play — including the music, singing, dance and puppetry that keep little ones engaged throughout — "New Vaudeville" style.
While Brown’s Goodnight Moon references her previous book, The Runaway Bunny, SCT’s production includes that story in the form of a song.
Goodnight Moon could open up an interesting opportunity to discuss the importance of sleep and following a schedule with young kids. It also highlights common bedtime rituals in most homes. Through the cow’s attempts to jump over the moon, kids can learn about perseverance.
“Yay! The cow jumped over the moon!”
“He’s driving the car just like me!”
“Go to bed, little Bunny!”
Parents should know: Age recommendation
The play is recommended for ages 3 and over. It’s an easy to follow performance and many young kids will identify with Bunny. However, the play is 90 minutes long and may be too long for the younger audience. If your kids get restless, there is a quiet room available.
Check out the active audience guide for the show, with detailed information, background and teaching tips. It also has a good compilation of resources and poems to share with kids at bedtime.
If you go ...
Where and when: Goodnight Moon is playing at Seattle Children's Theatre's Eve Alvord Theater at Seattle Center through April 26, 2015. Performances are Thursday–Sunday; there is a public ASL-interpreted performance on March 21 and a sensory-friendly performance on April 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 to $40 depending on the day of the show. Buy online.
Parking: There’s plenty of paid street and public parking available, although you may find it difficult to find parking close to the theater.
• The running time for the play is approximately 90 minutes, and it includes a 15-minute break. Preorder your snacks so you can collect them at intermission and avoid long lines; and if possible, use restrooms before the show starts, to avoid the rush at break time.
• The Eve Alvord Theater has a quiet room, in case you need to use it for your child.
• There are booster seats available for young viewers.
• The actors return after the play for a quick round of Q&A from the audience. For curious audience members dying to know how the lamp bends or the clock moves, this is a great time to get their answers. The actors also stay on later, to give their autographs.