Cute songs, lively dancing and a sense of humor go into the Rose Theater's production of “A Year With Frog and Toad.”
The musical play, which follows this twosome from spring to spring, seemed to please a preview audience of students from Liberty and Holy Cross Schools on Thursday afternoon.
Leads Stephanie Jacobson as Frog and Brian Guehring as Toad were strong as they recounted the ups and downs in the friendship of the two amphibians. Their voices blend well in the songs, especially “He'll Never Know,” and they are expressive enough to draw lots of laughs from the audience.
It's a case of opposites attracting. Frog is lively, sunny in disposition and willing to take chances. Toad, who at times sounds a lot like Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory,” is much more conservative: full of questions and scared of trying anything new, a little morose and happier to sit than work up a sweat.
But that's what makes their friendship work. Frog gently urging — or sometimes literally pushing — Toad to take a chance. And Toad discovers how much fun he can have if he lets himself go.
Of course, all friendships encounter bumps in the road. Toad and Frog's bump comes in the winter and it takes a letter to bring them back together.
The two main characters are more than ably supported by Lauren Krupski, Kelsey Celek and Dan Chevalier, who play many characters — birds, a mouse, a lizard, squirrels, moles and other frogs — that interact with Frog and Toad during the year. In fact, Chevalier steals the show as Snail the mailman with this song “I'm Coming Out of My Shell.”
While some second-graders said they understood the play's theme of friendship, it was the special effects that grabbed a class of first-graders.
They easily zeroed in on their favorite parts: a frightful imaginary giant frog, water that could be squeezed out of sandwiches that had fallen in the river, and lightning and thunder during a storm sequence.
“That was so cool!” one little boy yelled.
“A Year With Frog and Toad,” based on children's books by Arnold Lobel, has music by Robert Reale, and book and lyrics by Willie Reale.
Kevin Ehrhart directed the Rose production. Costume designer Sherri Geerdes and lighting designer Mark Varns deserve special notice.
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