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Local young artists to adapt favorite children’s novel

By Staff | Apr 13, 2015

The Black Box Arts Center is proud to host once again The Genesius Players and their latest youth theater production workshop. This 10-week workshop is designed to train young actors and technicians and give them valuable experience in the many aspects of mounting a full-length show. The musicals and plays produced in this program feature children aged 5 through 18 on stage and behind the scenes, and culminates in six performances for the general public. This latest effort is an adaptation of the well-loved children’s novel by Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth.

Director Laura Richards Bakin describes the production team’s approach to the piece: “Our goal is to animate the novel, make it come to life on the stage. The dialogue in the play is straight from the book, and very little has been altered. Fans of Phantom Tollbooth will recognize nearly all of their favorite lines and characters. It’s been great fun to breathe a different kind of life into this beloved book!”

This fantastic tale is about a tween who learns to appreciate the ordinary things in life after he embarks on a wondrous journey. Bored with everyone and everything, Milo comes home from school one day to find a package containing a giant toy tollbooth in his room. When he puts the tollbooth together and takes a ride through it in his toy car, his magical adventure begins. He visits Dictionopolis, the land of words, Digitopolis, the land of numbers, and meets a zany cast of characters along the way, all of whom show him how fascinating life can truly be. Audiences will be in stitches as this cast of 30 hits the stage, many of them playing three or more characters. All cast and crew are from the tri-state area. Some of them are veterans of the program, age | 2 while many will make their theatrical debuts with this show.

All are making their mark on this adaptation, and giving their own special touches to the characters they are developing. The Genesius Players and the Black Box Arts Center are proud to make theater by and for youth a vibrant part of their calendar throughout the year. The Genesius Players’ Managing Artistic Director Laura Richards Bakin expresses an essential part of their mission.

“We feel a responsibility, as artists and educators in the community, to weave the young voice into the tapestry of live theater. What we create here will be so much richer because of those voices. And, of course, we are also ensuring that art not only lives, but thrives in our culture for years to come.” Future programs for youth in 2015 include various workshops, summer camps in June and July, and the musical Annie, Jr. in November. Rehearsal photos are available upon request. All rehearsals are open to the press.

The workshop will be held Friday, April 17, through Sunday, April 26, Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Black Box Arts Center, 113 S. Princess St. Cost is $8. Tickets can be purchased online at blackboxartscenter.org, or at the door. Advance reservations can be made by emailing info@blackboxartscenter.org or calling 304-870-4685. Unpaid reservations are held at the box office until 15 minutes before curtain. All seats are general admission.