Goodnight Moon wakes up the stage

When it comes to beloved bedtime stories, few can claim such widespread affection as Margaret Wise Brown’s classic, Goodnight Moon. But fans of the 60-year-old story may be surprised to learn that the tale has been translated to the stage at Chicago Children’s Theatre.

Goodnight Moon: The Musical!

Oct. 27-Dec. 23
, kids
Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.,
(773) 871-3000

After all, the story is better known for its gentle repetition and intricate illustrations than its exciting action sequences or elaborate plot. The play’s director David Kersnar says the book may take about 15 seconds to read, but there’s a lot packed in its pages.

“Every part of that book comes alive in the play,” Kersnar says. “There are a lot of implied stories.”

Those stories, which include a story-within-a-story from Brown’s other boardbook hit The Runaway Bunny, are woven through the basic plot of the little bunny and the old lady who wants him to go to sleep.

Favorite characters like the mouse, the cat and the fiddle, the three bears and the cow jumping over the moon also make an appearance.

The whole tale is told through fun music by instruments such as a singing saw and a ukulele, audience interaction, puppets and dance numbers.

“The bears are in this amazing tap number,” Kersnar says. “That number alone is reason to come see the play. …The way they enter is hilarious.”

Humor is a big part of the show, with Kersnar citing the cow-jumping-over-the-moon sequence as laugh-out-loud funny.

But he also says there’s a deeper message at play, one about the fleeting nature of childhood and about enjoying the things around you while you can.

Although the play is recommended for ages 3 and up, Kersnar says it’s really an all-ages show that parents-and even big sibs-will enjoy as much as little ones. He hopes it encourages families to pull the beloved story off the bookshelf and enjoy it together.

But Kersnar does have one caution for parents bringing little ones in their PJs and hoping for an early bedtime: “This play will not put you to sleep.”

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