The unsung and unseen heroes of ‘Goodnight Moon’

Mercedes Perez, Rakeem Lawrence, Susannah McLeod and Marco Robinson in ‘Goodnight Moon.’ Photo by Adams Viscom

 There’s an entire team behind the curtain who have helped make the show magic for more than 40,000

With 229 performances under their collective belt and more than 40,053 students and families reached, the cast and crew of DCPA Education’s third annual Theatre for Young Audiences production have overshot the moon, engaging 53 percent more audience members than the year before. Goodnight Moon, continuing through February 15, already has taken an integral place in DCPA Education history.

Stage Managers Rachel Ducat and Rick Mireles are two of the unseen heroes of ‘Goodnight Moon.’

And it has only happened thanks to many unseen and unsung heroes: The designers and crew who help the actors look and sound amazing day after day. While Bunny is preparing for bed, there’s an entire ecosystem behind the curtain perfectly timing and calling light and sound cues, setting props and assisting with numerous costume changes.

On a typical show day, the crew files in an hour and a half before curtain. The group includes two dressers, two deck members, the light-board operator, an electrician and two sound-board operators who alternate as sound engineer and mic manager. Stage Manager Rachel Ducat and Assistant Stage Manager Rick Mireles oversee them all.

During the time leading up to the performance, the crew is setting the stage. They test all the moving pieces and make sure nothing gets caught in the gears. They re-set all props and set pieces for the top of the show. Meanwhile, the dressers ensure the laundry is complete, the costumes are steamed and the vests are frozen. Yes, frozen vests, which provide as much comfort as possible in the thick mascot-like costumes that can be very hot for the actors who wear them.

Goodnight Moon, hello to theatre for a lifetime

The last thing the crew does before handing the house over to the House Manager is a blackout check. They turn off all the lights in the house and roll into the first light cue. The house lights come up, as well as some lights on stage. Then they run through the first sound cue and turn on the house music. Just moments before opening the doors for the audience, Mireles resets all the clocks on the set to say to 6:30, as is called for by the story.

After all audience members have been seated, Ducat checks in with everyone over her headset. Mireles checks that the actors are in place and, when prompted, signals for Bunny to emerge onto stage. “Then,” Mireles says, “the 55-minute madness begins.”

That madness includes numerous costume changes, dozens of different props, controlling several puppets throughout the show and ensuring that all movable set pieces function at the right times.

Mercedes Perez in 'Goodnight Moon.' Photo by Adams Viscom.

Mercedes Perez as Old Lady Bunny in ‘Goodnight Moon.’ Photo by Adams Viscom.

The first costume change occurs when Old Lady Bunny transforms into Cat. Right when actor Mercedes Perez comes off stage as Old Lady Bunny, she hands off her oversized book of Runaway Bunny and plastic cup to Mireles, who sets them on the props table. The first dresser assists in taking off the Old Lady Bunny costume. In order to successfully change into the next costume and be in the right place for her next entrance, Perez runs around the back of the theatre to a second quick-change location, accompanied by Mireles and the mic manager. Perez then meets a second dresser who assists in putting on her Cat costume.

During this entire quick-change, Mireles is prepping her next two props. The mic manager ensures the mics are dry and changes batteries as needed. Once everyone is ready, Mireles alerts Ducat, who then cues the music for the Cat/Dog entrance.

This is just one of 19 quick changes three actors pull off throughout this show.

“To hear that guttural laugh from a child – that true joy – is priceless.” – Rick Mireles

The routine has evolved after more than 150 performances, Mireles said, sometimes in entertaining ways. For example, actor Marco Robinson wears blue light-up shoes as the Tooth Fairy, but his shoes have worn down over the past six months. Sometimes before entering through the window, Robinson will accidentally turn off his light-up shoes with his ankle. To keep that from happening, Mireles now lays on a crawler underneath the window and will roll into place and turn the shoes back on before Robinson’s entrance, should they turn off early.

Most of the other changes have been minor. Quick changes have become quicker now after so much practice, so actors and crew now have more time between changes. No matter how good they get at it, Mireles’ goal is to make every show is fresh as the first.

“Though we’ve done the show a bunch of times, every day is that audience’s first time,” Mireles said. “We want to give the same performance we gave our first audience.”

Once the performance ends, Mireles  monitors the audience as they depart. He gives the students and families ample time to take pictures of the stage but once the doors close, the crew immediately begins to re-set the stage for the next performance. They have 20 minutes to make the bed, set the stuffed animals back on the shelf, vacuum the stage, re-set the props and fix anything that might have broken.

After the re-set is complete and the house opens for the second time of the day, the cast and crew get ready to do it all over again. “We do the show twice a day, Tuesday through Sunday,” Mireles said. On some days, even three three times.

“The best part of the whole experience is the audience,” Mireles said. “To hear that guttural laugh from a child – that true joy – is priceless.”

Children all across Colorado are experiencing the wonder and imagination of theatre for the first time in the great green room, and none of it would be possible without the support and coordination of the dedicated crew.

Madison Stout is a receptionist and member of the security team as well as a contributing writer for the Communications Department at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. After graduating from Grove City College, where she was an editor and staff writer for The Collegian, she continues to pursue writing as an Education and Community Engagement journalist at the DCPA. She also acts and recently performed in Phamaly Theatre Company’s production of “Come to Your Senses.”

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Photo gallery: Goodnight Moon

The cast and creative team behind ‘Goodnight Moon.’ Photo by John Moore.
[av_gallery ids='33826,34941,33835,34940,34939,33836,34938,34937,34936,33829,33834,34935,33831,34934,33830,33833' style='thumbnails' preview_size='portfolio' crop_big_preview_thumbnail='avia-gallery-big-crop-thumb' thumb_size='portfolio' columns='4' imagelink='lightbox' lazyload='avia_lazyload' av_uid='av-nj3ybw' custom_class='' admin_preview_bg=''] Photos by Adams VisCom and John Moore

Goodnight Moon: Ticket information

  • Book, music and lyrics by Chad Henry, adapted from the book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  • Through February 15
  • Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre
  • Tailored for pre-kindergarten through second-grade audiences
  • Tickets: Call 303-839-4100 or

Goodnight Moon: Cast

  • Bunny: Rakeem Lawrence
  • Dog/Tooth Fairy/Bear: Marco Robinson
  • Mouse/Cow/Bear: Susannah McLeod
  • Old Lady/Dish/Bear: Mercedes Perez
  • Understudies: Maggie Tisdale and Sean Scrutchins

Goodnight Moon: Creatives

  • Adapted by: Chad Henry
  • Director: Allison Watrous
  • Scenic Designer: Lisa Orzolek
  • Costume Designer: Kevin Copenhaver
  • Lighting Designer: Charles MacLeod
  • Sound Designer: Jason Ducat
  • Casting and Choreography: Grady Soapes
  • Music Direction: Robyn Yamada
  • Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Rick Mireles

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Video bonus: Director Allison Watrous and Actor Rakeem Lawrence

Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.