Young People’s Theatre welcomes Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) to the stage in a delightful presentation of Goodnight Moon, adapted from the beloved children’s storybook by Margaret Wise Brown. Not only is YPT welcoming their American sister company with this heartwarming and imaginative musical production, they are also celebrating their 50th year, and Goodnight Moon truly shines bright in front of this achievement.
Bunny (Mike Spee) needs to go to bed, but there’s one problem: he’s just not tired! What’s more, his imagination brings his room to life, keeping him up far past his bedtime, much to the dismay of the Old Lady (Vickielee Wohlbach), who spends much of the play trying to get him to fall asleep.
Over the course of the production, different parts of Bunny’s room come alive, from the pictures on his walls (and their contents) to the sheets on his bed. Bunny meets a strange and wonderful assortment of characters, such as the three bears living in the picture above his bed, or even the Tooth Fairy (Auston James). He shares these experiences with the Mouse (Molli Corcoran) living in his room.
A chorus of giggling children in the audience punctuate Bunny’s adventures and misadventures throughout the night. They stay mostly silent during many of the delightful songs in the production (music and lyrics by Chad Henry). Pianist Jeff Bell gets his chance to be involved in Bunny’s nighttime escapades as the two share the piano in one song in the second act. Near the end of the show, the four cast members share a moving, almost haunting song, sung in Latin, as they play with Bunny’s stuffed toys on his bookshelf.
While all the members of the cast are wonderfully talented and bring a smile to audience members’ faces every time they are on stage, Mike Spee as Bunny truly carries the show in the lead role. He brings a sense of childlike wonder and awe to the events that unfold in his room, and he has no shortage of talents – from tap dancing to violin playing – that make him exciting to watch.
An extremely clever set, designed by Jennifer Lupton, feels at times like it is a fifth character in Goodnight Moon. Ingenious puppetry and hidden mechanics bring objects such as alarm clocks, lamps, and even the fireplace to life, making Bunny’s experiences that much more real.
When he jousts in exasperation for control of his lamp, which dips and swerves to avoid him, or hurls cheeky puns at the fireplace that’s come to life under his mantle, it isn’t cheesy. These kinds of effects are simple but well-crafted and designed, and it only adds to the sense of wonder felt by both Bunny and the audience.
A stellar cast, memorable songs, and a very clever set, combined with a children’s story that reminds everyone of their own imaginative childhood makes for a great production.
Goodnight Moon runs at YPT until March 19. For more information visit www.youngpeoplestheatre.ca.