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Lower School Students Adventure to the Land Beyond

February 8, 2024—Thirty Lower School students took part in the Lower School Winter Play and transported the audience in the David E. and Stacey L. Goel Theater to the Land Beyond, the setting of The Phantom Tollbooth by Susan Namus. Based on the children's fantasy adventure novel of the same name—written by Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer and published in 1961 by Random House—Milo and friends set out to rescue two princesses and restore order.

Milo (portrayed by Maddie Karczmarek ’30) is bored with everything. In the Land Beyond he learns of the argument between King Azaz the Unabridged (portrayed by Clara Humphrey ’28) and his brother, the Mathemagician (portrayed by Sarah Kotler ’30), whose disagreement over words and numbers has led to the banishment of Princess Sweet Rhyme (Anais Choumert ’30) and Princess Sweet Reason (Leila Pan ’28). As Milo embarks on a rescue mission, he travels across the Land Beyond encountering different characters and perspectives. Ultimately, he realizes life is anything but dull and education is an important tool to wield for a better functioning world. 

“Milos’s journey leads to understanding and change,” shared Director Susan Yoniack in a director’s note. “When Rhyme and Reason are restored, the kingdom finds its balance,” explained Yoniack, who chose Kandinsky circles to feature prominently in the set design. Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist who believed circles represent balance, order, and symmetry—something Milo ultimately finds for himself and the Land Beyond.

A student-centered production, positions like stage managers, light board operator, sound board operator, and backstage crew were all filled by Winsor students. Costume designer Jessica Pribble outdid herself with her innovative, colorful costume designs and Technical Director Andres Puigbo’s life-size merry-go-round and numerous inventive props brought the show to life. The show run (Friday, February 2 and Saturday, February 3) was celebrated with a reception hosted by the Winsor Parents’ Association Performing Arts Liason’s Doug Bowen-Flynn P’25 and Annelena Lobb P’29. Lower School families supported the event with all kinds of refreshments, including sweet treats like chocolate chip cookies and mini cupcakes, as well as savory snacks like Cape Cod potato chips and Smart Food popcorn, and of course, lemonade.