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Goodnight Moon at Mile Square Theater

By Adam F. Cohen

originally published: 04/24/2016

Goodnight Moon at Mile Square TheaterGenerations of parents lull children to sleep with Margaret Wise Brown's classic "Goodnight Moon." I can't tell you how many times I read it to my daughter. It is a simple listing of things in a great green room and someone wishing goodnight to all of them and an old woman whispering "hush." The Mile Square Theater Company in their warm new space brings the book alive through a glorious musical adaption by Chad Henry.

Kids of all ages especially those under six will adore this production. The ingenuity lies within Matthew J. Fick's brilliant set and an energetic, effervescent cast, where the story literally comes to life. The bears in the chairs pop into the room. The cow that jumps over the moon slips out of the picture to attempt three jumps.

"Goodnight Moon" as a book doesn't really have a story. Henry opens up the book to a tale every parent can relate to - a child Bunny (Brandon Beaver) doesn't want to go to sleep despite the admonishments of the old lady (Rachel Darby). Bunny wants to play with Mouse (Ariana Morales) deftly handling Kev Abrams' puppet.

Like any kid Bunny has more to accomplish with his day. He wants to talk to his friends and explore a flickering lamp, wiggle his very loose tooth to receive a visit from the tooth fairy, have all his toys and a glass of water before he goes to bed. There's also the phone ringing and a toy house that lights up and makes noises to distract the young Bunny. Fick's set rivals Pee Wee's Playhouse with ingenuity.

Under the brisk direction by Mark Cirnigliaro, Bunny is visited by the dish and the spoon, cats, bears, Clarabelle the Cow, the Moon, and the tooth fairy. The cast of four runs ragged playing all these roles. Highlights are Miki Hellerbach's hysterical tooth fairy (borsch belt comedian) and Morales' mouse is mischievous but a steadfast friend to Bunny. Darby makes a warm old woman. Each cast member shines and has moments of unique characterization. They don't talk down to the young audience and invite them into the unique room. Beaver conducts the whole evening as his imagination brings the story and room to life (fueled by the wonderful set, peppy songs by Henry, and spirited direction) to obvious exhaustion.

Given the target audience the production flags a bit somewhere between the bears and reappearance of the cow for her third and most successful jump over the moon. But the kids in the audience were rapt and Mile Square Theater has a spirited, evergreen, warm, ingenious musical that families should flock to.

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The production plays through April 24 at Mile Square Theater1408 Clinton St, Hoboken, NJ. More information at milesquaretheatre.org

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info




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