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The Phantom Tollbooth – A Mother/Daughter Date

by Renee-Marie Smith

Phantom Tollbooth BookMy daughter recently turned 5 years old in May and she was given the book The Phantom Tollbooth as a birthday gift from my friend, Sandra. It’s not an “easy reader” book so she wasn’t very interested in having me read it to her at first. Then, the Weston Playhouse came to her preschool with their Early Stages program, where she got to learn and perform a song from the play. Soon after her performance on stage with her class, my daughter began asking me to read the book for her bedtime story. We’re only reading one or two chapters each night, so we haven’t quite finished the book yet, but when I had the opportunity to take her to see a live performance of the book, I jumped at the opportunity! This would be her first time watching a play.

The Phantom Tollbooth - Photo by Renee SmithThe Phantom Tollbooth is about a young boy named Milo, who is so bored with everything that he doesn’t see the point in doing anything at all. He doesn’t enjoy playing with any of his toys, and is especially bored with learning facts at school. Then a mysterious tollbooth appears in his bedroom and transports Milo to the Land of Wisdom. There, he goes on a grand adventure through places like Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, to rescue two princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Along the way, Milo makes a few friends (especially the dog, Tock), and learns that learning can be fun and is actually pretty important.

It was a grey day with rain on and off – what better way to spend a rainy day with my best girl than to see a professional theatre performance! After reading the first half of the book already, both my daughter and I were excited to see this particular performance. We got our tickets and as we were finding our seats, I gasped at the stage – it looked magnificent! So creative and FUN looking that it made me even more excited.

The Phantom TollboothBefore the story began, we were greeted by all the actors and actresses for a little chat. They asked the audience if anyone had read the book, and who prefers numbers or words. They also made sure to give the kids a little “heads up” about a certain part of the play that might seem a little scary. They explained that the lights will go out and the character, Milo, might be in a little danger, but they assured the kids that everybody in the audience is perfectly safe. I really appreciated that kind of introduction, especially for younger kids like my daughter, who’d never been to see a play before.

The Phantom TollboothThere were several musical numbers throughout the show. They were all very catchy and well performed. I asked my daughter after the play if we should buy the soundtrack – she gave an enthusiastic, “Yeah!” and I’m actually still humming some of the songs in my head as I write this. The set was magical and the costumes were amazing – I especially liked the demons, those were pretty unique costumes. I can’t say enough about this show, it was really a great performance all around and I can’t wait to see another!

Alyssa Smith, watching The Phantom Tollbooth - Photo by Renee SmithI think one of my favorite scenes was probably the “Word Market” in Dictionopolis because there was so much activity going on, but my absolute favorite part, was seeing the look on my daughter’s face as she was watching the story unfold before her very eyes. That right there, is priceless. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to introduce my daughter to theatre through great performances such as this. I’m sure we’ll be back to see another play soon!

A big “Thank You” to the Weston Playhouse’s Young Company, cast and crew, for putting on such a great show, and to the cast for this photo opportunity as we were leaving.
The Phantom Tollbooth Cast - Photo by Renee Smith

You can catch a performance of The Phantom Tollbooth at the Weston Playhouse‘s new Walker Farm stage through June 30th, Tuesday – Sunday Evenings at 4:00 pm. It’s a great price at only $20 for adults and $10 for kids (not including sales tax and fees). To get your tickets, you can call the Box Office at 802-824-8167 or order online here.

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