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Annandale Presents 'Phantom Tollbooth'

Cappies Review

What would you do if one bored, lazy day, you came home to find a magic tollbooth in your bedroom?

Answer: Take a ride in your toy car and enjoy Annandale High School’s presentation of “The Phantom Tollbooth.” Based on the classic children’s book by Norton Juster, the tale is of a bored little boy named Milo and the world of adventure he enters one lazy afternoon. Traveling from Digitopolis, the land of numbers, to Dictionopolis, the land of words, encountering Humbugs, watchdogs and many others, the story is pure fun from start to finish.

Milo, played by senior Paul Mathis, was the epitome of a bored little boy, perfectly bland, but believably intrigued in everything he saw, from Spelling Bees to Lethargarians and Awful Dynnes. Perfectly complementary to Milo was Tock the Watchdog. Physically committed to the life of a crazy canine companion, Lindsey Mitchell leaped and bounded around the stage, an utter joy to watch. The standout character, however, was The Humbug. Sam Rabinovitz shone as the self-righteous, egotistical bug with perfect comic timing. From his belief that the answer to every question is “17!” to his energetic physical characterization, Rabinovitz was a great addition to the already fun and outrageous show.

Among many noteworthy performers on this talented cast was Patricia Eggerton, who portrayed three characters: the “Whetherman,” the Gatekeeper of Dictionopolis, and the “Dodecahedron” with 12 faces on a very literal and amusing costume. Eggerton made clear, comedic transitions from one character to another, keeping up volume and energy, all the while making it difficult to tell that it was the same actress. The Kings of Dictionopolis (Azaz, played by Walid Yahia) and Digitopolis (The Mathemagician, played by Evan Milberg) were another delight to watch. Lines flowing smoothly in unison during energetic arguments, the adversaries played off of each other with great ease.

Kudos to Andrew Hawkins, the student director of the production, for involving the audience and making use of the aisles during crazy chase scenes. The costumes and makeup (Katharine Perry, Suzanne Patterson, and Amy Jacobs, respectively) were also fun and believable, adding another level to the already colorful show. The set changes, though vivid and lively, slowed the quick pace of the show in a minute way.

So, in a world where “being wrong is hardly worth the effort,” the energetic cast of Annandale’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” flowed together effortlessly to create a fun-filled production for the whole family.

Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. area.