"Many Moons"

Dramatized by Charlotte B. Chorpenning

200365480-003.jpg Shannon Fagan
"I want the moon," says Princess Lenore. Shannon Fagan

Many Moons is a dramatic adaptation of the book of the same name written by James Thurber. Playwright Charlotte B. Chorpenning dramatizes the story of a princess who has fallen gravely ill because she cannot obtain what she truly wants and needs. Her father—the bumbling king—along with his wise men and their wives fret and attempt to make her better, but they make all the wrong choices.

It turns out that it is the jester who helps heal the princess by doing one simple thing: asking her what she needs. In the end, the princess herself provides all the necessary answers and explanations.

The dialogue and concepts in the show are complex: the struggle of a king to believe he is a good father and ruler, the efforts of wise men who want to keep their status in a failing situation, the determination of their wives to meddle, the attempts of a jester to do the impossible, and the confusion of a little girl who is convinced that possession of the moon is the only thing that can make her better. The audience leaves with with the message that a child’s imagination is a complex and beautiful place.

Staging this play requires play rich imagination and stylized characters. The script says that fifth and sixth graders played the roles in the first production of Many Moons and the production notes say that they had a great experience. This play, however, seems better suited for a performance by adults for children with only one character—the Princess—played by a young actress.

Format. Many Moons has three acts, but they are all quite brief. The entire script is 71 pages long—the length of many one-act plays.

Cast Size: This play can accommodate 10 actors.

Male Characters: 4

Female Characters: 4

Characters that can be played by either males or females: 2

Setting:  Many Moons takes place in several rooms of a palace “Once upon a time…”


Princess Lenore appears to be ill, causing everyone around her to figure out how to help her heal. In truth, she is desperate for something she cannot name and she will not get better until she finds the words she needs within herself.

The Royal Nurse spends her time chasing after the princess to take her temperature and check her tongue.  She takes pride in her work and believes it to be the most important work in the kingdom.

Lord High Chamberlain makes lists and is able to send to the far reaches of the world for anything the King desires. He loves his job and loves to make check marks on his list.

Cynicia is the Chamberlain’s wife.  She is determined that the King notice and remember her husband. She wants him to be important so that she can be important.

The Royal Wizard is not a very powerful wizard, but he can work some magic. He often whispers “Abracadabra” into his hat to remind himself that he is magical.

Paretta is the wizard’s wife. She likes to interrupt and finish people’s sentences the way she believes they should end. She is self-centered and is confident in her own righteousness.

The Mathematician’s role in the palace is to compute anything—both physical and metaphysical—having to do with numbers. Whenever he gets upset, he begins to count. 

The Jester listens to the problems of the royals and attempts to make them feel better.  Since he is good at listening, he is able to figure out the answers to questions that the wise men cannot.

The King is a good man who is only trying to do what’s best for his daughter and the kingdom.  When he lacks confidence, he is bumbling and clumsy. He is the clumsiest when he takes bad advice from his wise men.

The Goldsmith’s Daughter is a confident girl who has the skills to create exactly what is needed out of gold. Even though her father is the official goldsmith, she is able to handle any request from the royals.

Costumes: All costumes should suggest a fairy-tale-like kingdom.

Content Issues: There is no foul language or violence. The only issue to consider is whether a cast can handle the complex dialogue and ideas.