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Feb 12 2009

BBBS: The Phantom Tollbooth

Big Brothers Big Sisters is constantly working to get us good deals on kid-friendly activities in our area, and last week our match advisor sent me an email that they had some pairs of free tickets to several upcoming plays. Since Jessica had mentioned a time or ten that we hadn’t been to a play in a while, I reserved two tickets to The Phantom Tollbooth (based on a book by the same name), which was presented on February 9, 2009 at the Juanita K. Hammons Center for the Performing Arts here on campus.

I picked Jessica up at our regular time, and after a quick Taco Bell dinner, we had time to play in a park before it was a) dark, and b) time to go find our seats. I hadn’t told Jessica where we were going, only that it was a surprise, so she kept her eyes shut from the park to the top of the parking garage (we always park on the top floor, to get a good view). Once inside, we had pretty good seats, close to the stage, and almost exactly in the center of the row. There were kids of all ages, so it was pretty noisy, until the lights dimmed and the curtain went up.

The story

Milo, a lazy boy who never wants to do anything, is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom by a magical tollbooth, where he has many adventures. He meets a dog named Tock, and together they try to free the Princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Castle in the Air, where they were banished by their brothers, the kings of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. Since the princesses were banished, chaos has reigned, instead of the kings. With the help of a dictionary and a pencil, Milo and Tock battle demons of procrastination, insincerity, and insensibility as they ascend the thousands of step to the Castle. Can Milo and Tock rescue the princesses and restore Rhyme and Reason to the Kingdom of Wisdom? Will Milo still be lazy after all he has learned?

Our impressions

The cast was only seven people, so each played many roles. What impressed me the most was the costume design, from the billowing cloaks worn by the “demons” to the elegant princesses’ dresses, you could tell they had an excellent costumer with plenty of funds. The performances were great, with each actor slipping seamlessly from role to role. The music was catchy, the effects (especially the tollbooth) well-done, and the story enjoyable; the lessons presented were as applicable to adults as to kids.I wouldn’t recommend it for kids who are scared of thunder, though; the lighting and sound effects scared a little guy in the row in front of us. To his credit, though, he got through it; he was awfully cute.

The verdict

Jessica was not as enthusiastic about it as she had been at Disney’s Aladdin, which we saw several months ago, but she still enjoyed it greatly. I, myself, would recommend it to just about everyone.

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