OTA Children’s Theatre production of ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ opens tonight

SEQUIM — Olympic Theatre Arts’ Children’s Theatre is back on OTA’s Main Stage with “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a whimsical and comedic play by Susan Nanus, based on the book by Norton Juster.

The production opens tonight and runs through Sept. 9, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets for “The Phantom Tollbooth” are $12 for the public and $10 for OTA members.

Tickets can be purchased online at OlympicTheatreArts.org or by calling 360-683-7326 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The Phantom Tollbooth” is a play on words and numbers and their shifting use in language, according to a news release.

Milo, a bright young person with a distaste for confronting personal dilemmas, is lured into a journey through The Lands Beyond, where the cast of more than 20 children will explore the Doldrums, cross the Sea of Knowledge, follow the road to Digitopolis and more on a set created by David Willis.

Actors became characters

“As soon as the set for The Lands Beyond was finished the actors turned right into their characters,” said director Bonne Smith.

“That and costumes give our young actors an edge.

“They no longer pretend how they look or where they are on stage.

“This helps build their confidence, releases them from those details and allows them to explore their characters.”

Amelie Mantchev, an OTA Children’s Theatre veteran, plays Tock the dog and is also the costume designer.

Amelie’s mash-up vision — a futuristic Victorian view — endows the Land of Wisdom with a sci-fi fantasy twist.

Under the choreography direction of fellow actor Justice Johnson, the young cast created a hip-hop market act with buyers and sellers in the merchant scene.

‘A highlight’

“Gotta say this is a highlight for me as a youth director in a play.

“I gave them the space and time to create a musical movement scene that furthered the story.

“And, oh yes, they did,” Smith said.

Other notables for acting growth are manifesting in some humorous takes on the dialogue by Ruby Coulson, Kenzie Camp and Emily Loucks, organizers said.

“Emily has embraced the patterns and lyrics of delivery in her character Sweet Rhyme,” Smith said.

“Ruby changed her tone and timing to evoke the context in her portrayal of Kakafonous A Dischord and Kenzi is endowing The Humbug with physical comedy that supports the character’s behaviors, which is in contrast to Humbug’s words.”

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