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Posts Tagged ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’

Abdicating The Throne

January 31st, 2005 No comments

Last night finally brought an end to my reign as King of Digitopolis. It’s sad that I won’t see many of my fellow cast members again, but I’m certainly glad to get back my free time.

I did manage to walk away with both my pointy hat (which was originally mine, before the numbers were added) and my giant pencil. Both now adorn my office.

Here is a gallery of photos from The Phantom Tollbooth.

News From The Kingdom Of Wisdom

January 20th, 2005 No comments

Last night saw the opening night of The Phantom Tollbooth, or rather, the preview performance, a sort of final dress with an audience who only paid half-price for tickets.

While I did not break a leg, as the theatre saying goes, I did stub my toe very hard during the final battle with the Demons of Ignorance, and it’s still sore this afternoon. I guess that’s one of the risks of being a wartime leader.

Click on the photo for a larger image!

The show went well, though it was not without incident. During an early scene in “The Doldrums,” several of the Lethargians (shapeless blobs realized in true Doctor Who fashion by sticking an actor in a gray sack and zipping it closed) got disoriented when it was time to exit. Two of them rolled off the apron into the audience, and the third rolled into Milo’s bedroom on far stage left. There he sat for about a minute, thinking he was safely offstage, until he realized that he was up against Milo’s pile of pillows, and that the large, boxlike object was not the outhouse we keep in the wings until Act Two, but rather the tollbooth itself! In a panic, he rolled off the edge of the stage and exited through a side door. No one was hurt, though the director nearly died laughing during intermission. Too bad no one was videotaping!

Later, during my big scene as the Mathemagician, there’s a gag involving the largest number (a very tall three) and the longest number (a very wide eight). My minions are supposed to tote each across the stage in succession, but they couldn’t find the eight and therefore turned the three on its side and brought it back across. I covered the gaffe with a quip: “Here it is. It looks surprisingly like the other one.”

This second photo features the majority of the cast as seen in the final scene. Note the poor Dodecahedron on the far left, who is 1) not exactly even on all sides, and 2) inexplicably wearing a beret.

More Randomness

January 18th, 2005 No comments

I’m facing a bit of a time crunch this week after nearly six days away from the office. Last week’s Dish TV satellite receiver installation took about a full day longer than expected, so I was gone most of Thursday and Friday. We now have 120 channels, and, as you might expect, nothing’s on.

We also have a rather sizable dish bolted to the roof of our house, which Vic is not particularly thrilled about. She’d assumed that they’d be able to use the previous owner’s mounting post out by the shed, but as we were having two separate boxes (each with two receivers serving a total of four TVs) installed, we needed more wires and more room for a larger dish. Still, the dish is on the rear of the house, and isn’t even visible unless one is nearly on top of it.

Snarky jokes about “nothing on” aside, I’m loving this brave new digital world, particularly for a built-in TiVo-Like Device. (TiVo’s a brand name for what is unhelpfully known as a Personal Video Recorder, but as our box isn’t from TiVo, and because no one knows what I mean when I say “PVR,” I’ve resorted to “TiVo-Like Device.”) People have always told me that this is a life-changing piece of technology, and I have to admit that I agree. Once I figured out what I was doing, I’ve found it a breeze to operate and a delight to watch. The other night, while viewing The Simpsons live, I missed one of the throwaway sign gags and was able to simply rewind, freeze frame and restart the program, catching up during the next commercial break.

I was able to begin receiving the Sci-Fi Channel just in time for the series premiere of the “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica. With Deep Space Nine‘s Ronald D. Moore at the helm, Galactica already exhibits several of that previous space saga’s best features, including an emphasis on political and character development, as well as a nuanced view of villainy. It’s really good stuff; check it out.

For years, both Richard Hatch (not the Survivor nudist, but rather the actor who played the original “Apollo”) and Galactica creator Glen Larson had tried to launch their own revivals, but as neither owned the rights, these projects never happened. When the new series was finally announced, purists howled because it would not be a continuation with the surviving original cast, as Hatch had envisioned. How could it be any good, they railed, without Hatch, Dirk Benedict, etc.?

Here’s the thing. As much fondness as I have for the old show (and yes, I own the DVDs), I realized that it was something less than a success even back in ’78. Chock-full of plot holes, ridiculous science, bad hair and cheesy rip-offs (remember when Apollo played “Shane” against a gunslinging Cylon?), it had its moments, but even my 14-year-old self knew that it could be better. Now, thanks to a thoughtful reboot, it is. (And Richard Hatch, despite his initial bitching, is praising the new series these days. Not coincidentally, he appears as a guest star in two upcoming episodes!)

Tonight is the final dress rehearsal for The Phantom Tollbooth, which opens tomorrow at the Parkland College Theatre. I’d hoped to have a photo of myself in full Mathemagician garb posted here by now, but they’ve requested that we not take personal photos until a designated posing session next week. I can understand; this is a large cast with a lot of youngsters, and it could quickly become chaos if everyone was running around snapping photos. Besides, we have more important things to do right now. The show is coming together, but the pacing is still a tad slow. On the other hand, the funkadelic ’70s sets and costumes are amazingly fun, and I absolutely love my five-foot magic pencil! (The eraser is a dodgeball, so it bounces when I smack the floor with it.) I’m excited–and scared–about tomorrow night!

It’s Good To Be The King

November 24th, 2004 No comments

Last weekend I tried out for the Parkland College Theatre production of The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the classic children’s book by Norton Juster. I haven’t been in a play in years, but I’d been missing it. This production seemed like a good bet because I’m very fond of the book/movie and because it seemed like the sort of thing that wouldn’t attract many of the local thespians. (Which are legion around here, I can tell you.)

I decided that it would be really cool to be the Mathemagician, the King of Digitopolis. See, The Phantom Tollbooth is an allegory about the joys of learning, and tells the story of a young boy named Milo who brings together two kingdoms which are warring over whether letters or numbers are more important. (You can guess which the Mathemagician favors.)

After an audition during which I proved that I could be a complete fool on stage, I was invited back last night for callbacks. Instead of reading dialogue, I was asked to count in a “kingly” voice. I hammed it up for all it was worth, and apparently, it paid off, for today…

…I AM the King!

Rehearsals start soon, and the first performance is on January 19 at the Parkland College Theatre in Champaign.