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Youth theatre to perform “The Phantom Tollbooth”

By Staff | Jul 22, 2016

(Left to right) Maria Leonard, Beth Boucher, Katelyn Duchscher and Kate Heidlebaugh rehearse a scene from Village Arts' youth theatre production of "The Phantom Tollbooth". The play opens July 28 at 7 p.m.

Village Arts’ summer youth theatre returns to the stage next week with the production of “The Phantom Tollbooth.”

Based on the 1961 fantasy novel by Norton Juster, “Tollbooth” follows Mila, played by Katelyn Duchscher, who is perpetually bored. One day she is whisked off to the Kingdom of Wisdom, where she learns how valuable her time is after meeting several characters, facing demons and rescuing princesses.

The production is directed by Kyle Vareberg and Jill Roberts. David Miller assists as stage manager, and DeDe Heidlebaugh and Keeya Hager help with costumes.

Vareberg said that while in previous years the biggest challenge was time, the amount of stuff in “Tollbooth” presents several challenges.

“Kind of the overall feeling when we read the show was, ‘Oh. Is that all?'” Vareberg said. “I need a character who’s 12-sided. I need a character who does not have a form. I need five people to come out who are almost identical. One character needs to be able to multiply herself on stage, and there needs to be three copies of her. And it just keeps going. At one point characters jump off a cliff onto the wings of a gryphon.”

Duchscher and fellow cast member Beth Boucher, who plays “Humbug”, said each of their roles are out of character for them, which present their own challenges.

“Mila in the beginning she’s just really bored; she hates life,” Duchscher said. “It’s really hard for me to act that out because I love life.”

Boucher said: “Humbug’s a very grouchy person and I’m not. That’s kind of difficult to do, to have to be mean to everybody.”

Performances are July 28 and 29 at 7 p.m., and July 30 at 2 p.m. in the Tilman Hovland Auditorium at Rugby High School.

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