Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Phantom Tollbooth. It was by Susan Nanus. It was based on the book by Norton Juster and it was directed by David Catlin. It was about a little boy named Milo (Erinn Fredin) who gets a package with a tollbooth in it. Totally normal. And then he goes on this magical adventure to go save two princesses of Sweet Rhyme (Taylor Blim) and Pure Reason (Vahishta Vafadari). And he meets a dog named Tock (Brian Rife) and a humbug named The Humbug (Dominique Watkins) and lots of other amazing creatures. I really loved this show. I think it is great to take your kids to and I think it is a great adaptation of the book. I love David Catlin's work, like Lookingglass Alice and The Little Prince. All the plays of his I've seen have circus elements, and I think that is really awesome.
This play's look is just mesmerizing all around. The very first thing you see is Milo's room which looks like any little boy's or girl's room, but then the play starts and you see a clock (Shadana Patterson) which just looks like a woman in a black top with a white skirt with numbers all around. Then she pulls the skirt up with her hands and then you see a clock. The costumes were by Catharine Young and I thought that they were all amazing. I also really liked it when Rhyme and Reason tore off their dresses and there were sun outfits under them. I also really liked the Humbug's outfit. I thought that it was super cool because it had these awesome sunglasses that could go up and look like bugs eyes. I also liked how he had two walking sticks which were also like praying mantis legs. And he wore tap shoes and tap-danced everywhere he went! I liked the tower that Rhyme and Reason went to (scenic design by Jake Ives) because it was very modern and not at all like the tower you'd think that they would be in. The car was super cool because it still looked like a toy car. It was cool that you could see the feet powering it, because then you could see the imagination part of it.
I though that the banquet scene was really awesome because they ate their entire meal on a held-up cloth. This is a trick banquet basically. What happens in it is that they say what they want to eat and then they eat their words Badump pshhh! They used the cloth as basically a circus/magic act because they pulled it from under and waved it above their heads and everything was gone. King Azaz, the Unabridged (Awate Serequeberhan) looked basically like a nerd. In a good way--I am a nerd myself and I love nerds. I am not using the word nerd in a mean context. He had thick glasses and I thought that he did a great job acting like sort of a doofus but still seeming smart. Another thing about the banquet scene that I liked was how The Spelling Bee (Maya Malan-Gonzalez) and the Humbug were basically glaring at each other when they weren't talking to the king or eating.
So Milo, Tock, and The Humbug are going to the tower in the sky to rescue the princesses. But first they have to defeat a bunch of demons. Because they have to. One of them is the Terrible Trivium (Krey) who just makes people do tedious work so they will never get to the princesses. Mwahahaha. This Terrible Trivium was on stilts which makes him even more threatening. I thought it was great how the Demon of Insincerity (Haines) was adorable but also kind of terrifying. He reminded me of an old-fashioned Furby. He basically was this puffball puppet with long arms and a little bill mouth and puppy eyes. If you imagine this it is the most adorable thing on earth but it is evil because it just tells lies that people would want to hear.
People who would like this show are people who like 12-faced mathematical shapes, eating words, and adorable demons. I think people should definitely go see this show. It is funny, true to the book, and circus-filled! I had a lot of fun seeing it with my friend Maggie, and I think you will have fun taking your friends too!
Photos: Michael Brosilow