‘Goodnight Moon’ at Adventure Theatre MTC by Julia L. Exline

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Adventure Theatre MTC brings Margaret Wise Brown’s beloved story to the stage in the musical version of Goodnight Moon, directed by Roberta Gasbarre, with Book, Music & Lyrics by Chad Henry, and musical direction by William Yanesh. While this story is associated with settling down for bedtime, the stage version is energetic, upbeat, and perfect for a Fall afternoon of fun for the entire family!

Dorea Schmidt, Sam Edgerly, Anissa Hartline, and Colin Cech. Photo by Bruce Douglas.
Dorea Schmidt, Sam Edgerly, Anissa Hartline, and Colin Cech. Photo by Bruce Douglas.

If I’ve grown to expect one thing from Adventure Theatre MTC over the years, it’s an outstanding set design, and Goodnight Moon does not disappoint. Designer Deborah Wheatley stays true to the book’s illustrations of The Great Green Room, while making the stage pop with bright colors and vibrant patterns. A rocking chair sits center stage next to a basket of yarn, with an assortment of toys neatly tucked away under the bed. The set contains surprises as well, as nearly all of the props and furniture hide fantastic special effects that reveal themselves throughout the show (keep a special eye on the bedside lamp and dollhouse!) The overall effect is youthful and fun, while also being extremely cozy (the grand fireplace with socks and mittens hung to dry nearby add to this effect). Love and comfort fill this room, making you want to sit back and stay a while. Lighting Designer Jedidiah Roe matches the tone of the stage with the musical numbers, be it soft blues for a lullaby or flashing reds for a lively dance scene, while Sound Designer Neil McFadden brings the props to life, like a coo-coo bird popping out of a clock or a series of shrill squeaks from the famed ‘red balloon.’

It’s Bunny’s bedtime, but he’s not tired! An energetic Colin Cech performed this main role at my performance, though this character is shared with Jake Foster. Bunny pesters the Old Lady Whispering “Hush”(Anissa Hartline) with questions and requests, delaying his bedtime despite her efforts, including a soothing delivered lullaby called “Goodnight Moon.” The Old Lady finally leaves, and what follows is a night full of antics alongside his faithful friend Mouse (Maya Brettell), as different aspects of the children’s book visit Bunny. This includes the famous trio of the Cat and the Fiddle (Dorea Schmidt) the Little Dog (Samuel Edgerly,) and the Dish/Spoon (Maya Brettell) from the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle. This rhyme is turned into a song, which the visitors perform a bit too enthusiastically, wrecking the tidy room in the process. When the Old Lady returns with a glass of water and asks who made the mess, Bunny replies with the childhood favorite response, “nobody.” This inspires a cute song about “Mr. Nobody,” a feisty, invisible man who is always causing trouble.

It is with Bunny’s visitors that Costume Designer Frank Labovitz got to have a whole lot of fun, with crazy color combinations and accessories that one would expect to see ringside at a circus! This is especially true with the Tooth Fairy’s loud outfit (played by Samuel Edgerly), who visits Bunny after a trio of Bears (again, Edgerly, Schmidt, and Brettell) help him free a loose tooth.  These three actors each juggle three different roles, disappearing from the stage in one flashy outfit only to return in another in what seems like mere seconds. The stamina needed to pull off this feat is admirable, and the actors all manage to give varied, entertaining performances.

Alas, the night is not over. Many songs, dances, and antics remain, including a wrestling match with a blanket and pillow, a game of musical chairs, and other surprises. At this rate, will Bunny ever get to sleep?

Maya Brettell, Sam Edgerly, Anissa Hartline, Dorea Schmidt, and Colin Cech. Photo by Mike Horan.
Maya Brettell, Sam Edgerly, Anissa Hartline, Dorea Schmidt, and Colin Cech. Photo by Mike Horan.

The children in the audience all had a fantastic time watching Bunny and his friends, and so will you! Just don’t let Bunny give them any new bedtime-stalling ideas! Re-visit a childhood favorite with Goodnight Moon. Adventure Theatre MTC really knows what they’re doing when it comes to children’s entertainment!

Running Time: 55 minutes, without an intermission.

Goodnight Moon plays through October 27, 2013 at Adventure Theatre MTC – 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo Park, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-2270, or order them online.