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Whimsy welcome TOY plans a season of classics full of magical moments

Fantasy and mischief will rule the 2007-08 season at Theatre of Youth, which recently announced a lineup of whimsical standbys and new classics.

"The Phantom Tollbooth," debuting Oct. 19, is a stage adaptation of Norton Juster's classic 1961 children's book. The story features Milo, an impossibly bored child who manages to transport himself to a fantasy world full of confusing and mysterious characters like the Mathemagician and the Everpresent Wordsnatcher.

Just in time for Christmas, TOY will present "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," a play based on Barbara Robinson's popular book and previously staged at TOY in 2004. In a manic attempt to assemble a cast for the yearly Christmas pageant, the Bradley family must deal with a contingent of irascible children -- the Herdmans -- whose downright impropriety proves to be a tough proposition for the casting process and beyond.

On Jan. 18, 2008, Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic "The Secret Garden" will hit the Allendale Theatre stage. The long-beloved tale follows Mary Lennox, who, like Milo from "The Phantom Tollbooth," is stifled by boredom. That is, until she discovers a concealed garden, where mysterious events reveal long-held secrets trapped within the garden's walls.

In "The Great Gilly Hopkins," based on Katherine Paterson's book and premiering March 14, 2008, a girl frustrated with her unfamiliar foster family invents a convoluted back story for herself that includes a hippie mother and a worldwide reputation for brilliance. As things move along, though, Gilly comes to realize that her real life holds more promise than the one inside her head.

TOY's season ends with the rousing "If You Give a Pig a Party," based on Laura Numeroff's picture book and premiering May 9, 2008.


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