Tuesday, February 23, 2016

reviews - GOODNIGHT MOON - Childsplay

Chanel Bragg and Michael Thompson
photo: Tim Trumble

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 10th.

"...In the enchanting new Childsplay comedy Goodnight Moon, based on the hugely popular bedtime read of practically every American’s childhood, we get see what’s keeping Bunny awake when he should be asleep...Based on a new script from actor, composer and playwright, Chad Henry, in order to present this new production, you’ll notice a few modifications at Tempe Center for the Arts Studio. When you enter it’s like wandering into a child’s magical, dream world grotto. Stars hang from above throughout the auditorium; the stage is flattened to floor level so that children can sit cross-legged in front of the set as if they’re a part of it, while the set itself is akin to seeing pages from the book recreated to something tangible before you....In this wonderfully creative and occasionally very funny telling of Brown’s book, Bunny (Michael Thompson) is supposed to be in bed asleep, but he’s continually distracted....The cast is made of four very talented players. Thompson’s Bunny, who excels in displaying a wonderfully childlike exuberance for everything, is supported by Chanel Bragg as his mother...Tommy Strawser as the all singing, all dancing Tooth Fairy...and the continually engaging Michelle Chin whose cat with the fiddle is a genuine highlight of the production. ...Chad Henry’s script also delights in a couple of running gags, one including the mystery of who lives inside the little dollhouse and the several attempts of Clarabelle the cow trying to jump over the moon. The songs are simple but fun, accompanied by music director Alan Ruch’s piano, Molly Lajoie’s choreography incorporating tap along with that soft-shoe shuffle is as gentle and as pleasant as a production of this nature requires, plus Holly Windingstad’s scenic design is a practical facsimile of the little green room as illustrated with those flat but standout colors of the book. Open the pages to illustrator Clement Hurd’s rendering of Bunny’s bedroom and you’ll see, Holly’s set is Hurd’s imagination made manifest.... " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"In 1947, author Margaret Wise Brown and illustrator Clement Hurd created the simple children's rhyming bedtime story "Goodnight Moon" that features a young rabbit saying "good night" to the various objects he can see from his bed. Chad Henry has taken that simple story and expanded it into a silly, fun, and heartwarming 90-minute musical about a young bunny child who is too restless to sleep. This family-friendly show will charm even the crankiest person and Childsplay's production is a stunning display of colorfully creative designs and features a talented quartet of actors.
...The idea of taking various items mentioned in the book, including things in the pictures on the wall in the book illustrations, and turning them into musical numbers is brilliant. The best of these is when the picture that features bears and chairs brings the bears to life and turns into a tap dancing game of musical chairs. ...While the dozen original musical numbers aren't that memorable they do add to the fun of the show and represent a range of musical styles....Director Anthony Runfola uses a combination of effectively staged, simple storytelling and theatrical razzle dazzle to entertain...Molly Lajoie's choreography utilizes a range of styles, all of which add to the fun of the show. The set elements by Holly Windingstad are awash in technicolor and imagination as are Connie Furr Soloman's costumes, hair, and make-up designs. Lighting designer Tim Monson creates some lovely images of starry skies that slowly turn dark as the play progresses. As the young Bunny, Michael Thompson couldn't be better. He has an appropriate childlike innocence along with the rambunctious energy of a child who can't sit still and is restless and not at all ready to go to sleep. Chanel Bragg is simply lovely as the Old Lady, while Michelle Chin is endearing as a Mouse and Tommy Strawser is a charmer as a Tooth Fairy who does a little soft shoe routine...While Goodnight Moon may be targeted for younger theatergoers, children of all ages will enjoy Childsplay's production of this sweet, magical story of the little restless Bunny and the magical things he experiences as he attempts to go to sleep."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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