Little voices quiet and lights dim as the clock strikes seven. A giant bunny leaps on stage. The stage lights come up, illuminating the bunny’s green room that may look familiar to even the youngest in the audience—it’s from the well-known 1974 children’s book Goodnight Moon. The musical adaptation—playing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) now through February 16, 2020—brings to life the classic story of a bunny that isn’t quite ready for bed.
The children’s book is a simple story, featuring a bunny saying goodnight to everything around him; his lamp, the moon, his room, and the red balloon that hovers over his bed. Through rhyming phrases and tranquil pictures, the book serves as a lullaby in itself. The musical expands on the book, turning the peaceful story into a lively hour filled with good-natured characters. Singing and dancing energize the show on stage, but fans of the book will still be pleased to see the bunny saying goodnight to everything in his room.
The musical is a delight for all ages. Children in the audience fell quiet when the tooth fairy—dressed like a futuristic milk man—bounded on stage. There, he performed the audience’s favorite song, replaced the bunny’s missing tooth with a treat, and disappeared into the dollhouse before the bunny woke up from his short nap.
Another highlight of the show is a musical cat and dog pairing that emerge from the audience to sing fiddle-led songs. The duo leads the audience into encouraging the cow to jump over the moon. It may take her a few times, but the sheepish cow eventually learns the lesson that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Fit for All Ages
Audience members on one particular day ranged from six month olds to middle schoolers and parents, but all were captivated by the scene unfolding in front of them. The theater is one of the smaller one at the DCPA, which allows for an intimate experience with the cast, and even a few chances for the cat and dog show to interact with the audience.
The true magic of the musical—aside from the moving red balloon and talking moon—is that the pure and innocent message is fit for every audience, no matter the age. Simple lessons of keeping a positive attitude, caring for those around you, and having good manners are played throughout. In the final moments of the musical, the moon talks to the audience, giving a gentle reminder of lessons of kindness and community, while serving as an excellent introduction to theater for young audiences.
Need to Know: Goodnight Moon plays through February 16, 2020, at the Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $16-$20. Recommended for kids in pre-K through second grade.
Accessible Performance: On November 9 at 1:30 p.m., DCPA is hosting an accessible performance of Goodnight Moon. Both American Sign Language Interpretation and Audio Description services will be available by request.