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School of Theatre & Dance Presents “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Susan Nanus, based on the novel by Norton Juster Oct. 24-27

The Humbug, Tock and Mila come across a cart making lots of noise

Based on one of the top 100 children’s novels of all time, “The Phantom Tollbooth” is wrought with imagination, learning and fun for the whole family. Come join us at the Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown to see this children’s classic come to life!

Published in 1961, with illustrations by Jules Feiffer (who is also known for illustrating “Clifford”) “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster follows a little boy, Milo, on a quest to save the Kingdom of Wisdom after finding a mysterious package in his room. In our version, we follow Mila, a little girl, on that very same journey. She travels from realm to realm with Tock (a large Watchdog with a pension for not wasting time) and The Humbug (a giant, beetle-like creature who likes to make up fantastical tall-tales) learning about logic, imagination and, most importantly, friendship.

Susan Nanus adapted Norton Juster’s novel in 1975. She was the only female playwriting major accepted to Yale in 1971 and attended at the same time as Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.

The Humbug

Nanus considers “The Phantom Tollbooth” to be her most successful and beloved play, considering, “The fact that the play is still being put on is an accolade in and of itself.”

“The play kindly borrows some archetypes from other plays and children’s stories and twists them around.  I feel the playwright and the author of the book do this as an homage with many moments that are dream-like but familiar. There’s a scene you feel could have been influenced by Alice in Wonderland and others by the Wizard of Oz,” said Director Lee Blair, Associate Professor of Acting & Musical Theatre.  “At the heart of this story is a young girl’s fantastical journey that grows out of her boredom, and then ultimately, her imagination and learning just like Alice and just like Dorothy Gale.”

Seeing this play is a spectacle to show the whole family. There will be characters dressed in full mascot uniforms, Minecraft heads, a giant, moving dodecahedron, beautiful princesses and a set that will completely draw you into the fantastical worlds of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis.

“This show is a reminder to be a kid again and to let your imagination to run wild!” said Riley Barriger, sophomore BFA Acting student playing The Mathemagician. “Mila is a fantastic character that shows, being a kid is sometimes the exact thing you need to do to solve your problems. Please come out and explore the two different worlds of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis with us!”

Tock and Mila talking

Scenic design is by Robert Klingelhoefer, Professor of Scene Design; costume design by Chloe Cappuccilli, MFA Costume Design and Technology student; lighting and sound design by Alan McEwen, Clinical Associate Professor of Lighting and Sound Design.

“The Phantom Tollbooth” will take the stage at the Metropolitan Theatre Oct. 24-26 at 7:30pm and Oct. 26 & 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets for “The Phantom Tollbooth” are available on campus at the Creative Arts Center Box Office locations (Mon. - Fri. 1:30 to 5 p.m.), by calling 304-293-SHOW (7469) and online at Special ticket pricing is available for WVU students with valid ID, senior citizens and children. Visit for more information.