Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Phantom Tollbooth"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2011 by Janine de Souza

Child's Play

Reviewed by Janine de Souza

“I’m bored!” What parent hasn’t heard that sentiment uttered 1,000,000… no, 999,999 times, by their kids. It ranks right up there with “Are we there yet?” another fun phrase that will work your last nerve. Luckily for you and your wee one, Wheelock Family Theatre will keep both of you happily entertained in their current production of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH.

Milo (the adorable and uber-talented Jeffrey Sewell) is bored. I mean really really bored. He has no interests, no motivation, and can’t see the point of doing anything so he does nothing at all. Mysteriously, a Phantom Tollbooth appears in his room which ushers him into the Lands Beyond and he begins a magical transformation that wakes him up to the richness of life and its possibilities. Along the way with his dog Tock (Michael Wood), he rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason (Kami Rushell Smith and Courtney Sullivan respectively) from the devious demons who keep them locked up in the Castle in the Air. He also reunites feuding brothers, King Azaz from Dictionopolis (De’Lon Grant) and the Mathemagician from Digitopolis (Brian Richard Robinson). Dictionopolis worships words and Digitopolis makes numbers “numero uno”. Neither kingdom believes that they need the other. Milo, no longer “sleepwalking through life,” dusts off his thinking cap and comes up with a clever plan to outsmart the demons and save the day.

Part of what makes this PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH enjoyable is that this musical works for both kids and adults. Word play abounds and there’s delighted laughter from all when the lead demons played devilishly by Aimee K. Doherty, Robert Saoud, and Jenna Lea Scott try to thwart and confuse the young Milo. Their song called “Gotcha” got me thinking about how your own demons/monkeys on your back work from both the inside and the outside with snide comments like “You can’t.” and “Don’t bother.” Questioning the “truth,” going beyond your expectations, and daring to think make this PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH better than any video game on the market.

So get ready to release your inner child and see THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. It runs from October 21-November 20.

"The Phantom Tollbooth" (21 October - 20 November)
@ 200 The Riverway, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide