You'd rightly assume that the narrative in "Goodnight, Moon," a picture book with about two dozen words, doesn't occupy much of the musical stage adaptation by Children's Theatre of Charlotte. And if you are a purist, or the sort of old lady whose vocabulary consists mostly of "Hush," you will bristle.
The rest of us can enjoy the chaos provided by tap-dancing bears, a streetwise cat with a scratchy fiddle and N'Yawk accent, a moon-jumping heifer with growing anxiety, a growling telephone and a tooth fairy who looks like a televangelist dipped in bleach. But even purists may feel that the mood of Margaret Wise Brown's picture book comes through in the final moments of calm.
Ryan Wineinger's set strikes the correct tone at once: green vertical wallpaper with the right spacing, thin red window frames in the ideal proportions. That's crucial, because Brown's book is about the safety children feel when the world has harmony and familiarity.
Within that properly reproduced setting, improper behavior begins almost at once. The hushing old lady (Tanya McClellan) expects the bouncy bunny (Ashby Blakely) to go promptly to sleep, even though irrepressible Mouse (Karen Christensen) is chattering and clattering around the room.
As soon as the old lady leaves, though, objects come to life. Some can be spooky, like fireplace posts with eyes and the immense, spherical, talking moon. (Mark Sutton addresses the bunny in the friendliest tones imaginable, but any giant floating head sparks memories of the great and terrible Oz.)
Some are sweetly quirky, like the self-animating socks and mittens that interact with the bunny. Some are just plain weird: The dish that ran away with the spoon has been grafted onto the object of her affection, and even those of us who tolerate inter-cutlery relationships might find that odd.
Stories in paintings around the bunny's room come to life, at least in his mind. The kittens (Jenny Chen and Jon Parker Douglas) are real, I suppose, while the dancing bears - who are quite good in their vaudeville turn - could be imaginary. The tooth fairy wasn't in the original book, but I'd hate to have missed Matthew Keffer's lounge singing as the dude who trades dimes for dental stumps. (This gets a pleasant explanation in the show.)
Director-choreographer Ron Chisholm repeats his jokes when that's wise - kids do like repetition - but pulls everything to a close at an appropriate time, just under an hour.
Along the way, children may not realize they're learning a gentle lesson: This bunny is snarky and self-absorbed, and he has to learn a bit about sharing and mellowing before he conks out. That theme wasn't in the picture book either, but it's a happy addition here.