A new musical adaptation of Norton Juster's classic children's book, "The Phantom Toolbooth," penned by famed songwriter Sheldon Harnick, will have its world premiere at the Harwich Junior Theatre in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this summer.
James P. Byrne will direct. Robert Wilder is the musical director. The show will run Aug. 6-23. It will play 8 PM Mondays-Fridays and 2 PM Sundays.
Juster adapted his own book for the company, which has produced children-oriented theatre on the Cape for 50 years. Juster, Harnick and composer Arnold Black first imagined turning the book into an opera, but later decided to create a musical work on a considerably smaller scale. Harnick had been confining his efforts to the lyrics, but after Black died last year, he took over the composing duties as well. Before Harnick was famed for his lyrics to Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello! and She Loves Me, he was a composer and lyricist, particularly of revue material.
Juster's story tells of a boy who drives his toy car through a toy toll booth into a fantasy world called The Land of Wisdom. He is accompanied by his watchdog, Tock, and a Humbug. Together they try to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason.
Harnick is a lyricist with sterling Broadway credentials. With composer Jerry Bock, he wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fiorello!, She Love Me, Tenderloin, The Apple Tree and one of the great classics of the musical theatre, Fiddler on the Roof. The Harwich Junior Theatre is located in Harwich, MA, off Route 28. Call (508) 432-2002 for information.
After the death of composer Joe Raposo, Harnick similarly completed music and lyrics for A Wonderful Life, a stage musical version of the film, "It's a Wonderful Life."
—By Robert Simonson