Toys come to life for a penguin kid in bunny jammies, and a familiar bedtime story is a springboard to flights of fancy that lead all the way to the Milky Way in "Goodnight, Opus," Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's treat of a touring production that began its Southland stops last Sunday at the Norris Theatre in Rolling Hills Estates.
It goes on to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center this Sunday and Smothers Theatre on Jan. 25.
The show is adapted from the children's book by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist-illustrator Berkeley Breathed, starring his bulbous-nosed penguin creation, Opus, and assorted other eccentric characters. With its graceful puppetry, wacky humor and dreamlike, seemingly gravity-defying black-light imagery, it's a gentle delight for all ages, made especially for young children.
The adventure begins with Opus' bedtime, as his Grandma -- a larger-than-life-sized soft puppet -- is reading that kids' staple, Margaret Wise Brown's "Goodnight Moon" "for the 210th time." Opus, who's been playing with his toys -- a kissing cow; a red balloon; Biped, a dinosaur-like beast with "toes taffy blue" -- yearns to depart from the familiar text and have his own bedtime adventure: a flight to the Milky Way.
After Grandma dozes off, Opus, Biped (enormously come to life) and a timorous new friend, Balloon, head for the stars on a flying bicycle, encountering a very large tooth fairy, an airplane, and some "sailors of the Blue Mist Lagoon" who are fishing for the moon. They also make a comfort stop in Washington -- where President Lincoln leaves his marble memorial for a refreshing swim with Opus. Their sparkling Milky Way destination is filled with happy kissing cows.