It's a big responsibility performing a well-known story such as Goodnight Moon in front of children. Most of them know every word by heart. Playing the Old Lady Bunny a few months ago, I began to recite the beloved words: "In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of ..."
And that's when it happened! In that moment, I couldn't remember which animal jumped over the moon! The whole show is made up of animals. There is the mouse, the dog, the cat, the COW and of course the main character, the Little Bunny. In my defense, right before I began my lines, something had fallen. It was loud. I was momentarily distracted and concerned that someone might have been hurt. Also, you must know that the boy who played the cow also played one of the three bears.
Regardless, what came out of my mouth was: "In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the bear jumping over the moon." To add insult to injury, the lights came up on the picture for all to see of the cow jumping over the moon. (See above photo.)
There was a pregnant pause. Some whispers in the audience. I can only imagine what the children were saying. "Mommy, is that a bear?" "Daddy, the cow jumped over the moon, right?" Or more likely: "That lady doesn't know what the heck she's talking about!"
It's amazing what the mind goes through in just a matter of seconds. I thought: "Should I tell the Little Bunny that of course I meant to say: "Cow" and not "Bear?" Should I refer to the bear as a cow for the rest of the show for consistency? Should I stop the show and make an announcement? All actors know this feeling - it's aptly called the Actor's Nightmare.
Of course the show always must go on. And it did. Quite nicely, thank you. But I never lived it down. Every time the cast did a microphone check prior to one of our shows, someone would say: "And the bear jumped over the moon!" Great laughter followed. Of course, I was always afraid that I would say the line wrong again. I would sit in my rocking chair at the beginning of each show and say the line correctly over and over again like a mantra. Luckily, I got it right for the rest of the performances.
But really, if you think about it, a bear does have about as much of a chance to jump over the moon as a cow does...