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Cortez Middle School to premiere ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’

CMS play has a lesson, about lessons

Next weekend, Cortez Middle School Theater will premiere “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a play about making learning fun.

It shows on Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. and repeats on Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The play is being directed by Angela Gabardi, computer and theater teacher at Cortez Middle School.

According to seventh-grader Ellai Black, an actress behind the main character, Milo, the play is about the adventures of learning.

“Milo goes on a journey throughout the world of numbers and words and along with Tock and Humbug learn the importance of learning,” Black said.

This play is different than Cortez Middle School’s last production, “Into the Woods Jr.” It is not a musical, and the actors feel they can have more fun with their characters.

“We can add so much and do so much with our characters and have a story behind it, and there is a bigger relationship with each character,” said eighth-grader Koral Jackson, who plays Kakafonous, Doctor of Dissonance.

“Each character is teaching Milo the same thing.”

To Alison Freeman, a sixth-grader who plays Word Merchant, the play also contains lessons about time.

“What you do with time is what makes it important, and what you do with what you learn is what makes it fun and interesting,” Freeman said.

For the eighth-grade students, rehearsals are bittersweet. They will head to high school after this production, and many plan to continue to participate in theater.

Mikah Buris, an eighth-grader who plays The Awful Dynne, said he was able to make friends that “actually care.”

Eighth-grader Savannah Story, who is assistant stage manager and map master, said she learned to put herself into her characters during her time at CMS drama.

“Don’t worry about looking stupid in your costume or feeling stupid saying your lines because those lines are written for a reason, and you just kind of have to put yourself into it,” Story said.

“You have to really just put your passion into your character, and you can find yourself by being that character.”

Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for children under 12, Montezuma-Cortez High School students and senior citizens.

Admission is free for middle school students and staff, Montezuma-Cortez High School staff, and children under 2.

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