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Photo: Ivona Hedin
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Photo: Ivona Hedin
The new musical is a joint production with the Bloomington Playwrights Project and the IU Department of Theatre and Drama.
Bloomington Playwrights Project
Feb 4-6, 10-12 and 17-19, 2011
Kissing Frogs is a new musical opening at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. A joint production with the IU Department of Theatre and Drama, the musical is based on a single song, “Greta,” by Jeremy Schonfeld. Additional music has been written for the show by Schonfeld and IU alumna Nicole Parker, star of MADtv and Wicked.
The refrain from the song, which echoes through the musical, is the advice of a grandmother: “Things can only get better if Greta would settle down.” As the show opens, Greta (played sympathetically by Chloe Williamson) is trying on her wedding gown—but she’s anything but settled down. In fact, Greta remains frantic and frazzled through a variety of scenes and costume changes, right up until the calm of a sedate wedding procession.
Greta’s frenetic manner is the result of her insecurity about her upcoming marriage to Jason, played with a certain charming innocence by Russell Stout. Jason has his doubts, too, as Greta seems tempted by former boyfriend Alex, a perfect slimeball rendered by Matt Birdsong. Her basic insecurity, though, is blamed on the weakness of her father, a gently charming Aaron Densley.
Greta is supported by three friends: Gina Ricci plays her tempestuous girlfriend Meg; CJ Pawlikowski is the upright Jonathan, her former therapist; Cosmo Clemens is his partner, the energetic actor/dancer Nick. The plot is comfortable and familiar. There’s some snappy chatter and some good laughs. The songs show up and fill just the spots that one expects them to.
Evan Mayer and Hannah Slabaugh are listed as ‘male and female ensemble.’ Mayer plays everything from a rapist to a gentle nerd, with lots of parts in between. Slabaugh’s roles range from a medical doctor with a foreign accent to a jockey in full silks.
Everyone in the cast for Kissing Frogs is an attractive and solid performer. The individual songs are well delivered, and the ensembles are nicely honed. The production is directed by the BPP’s Chad Rabinovitz with choreography by IU’s George Pinney. Manipulation of the space and set is inventive—just when I thought they’d presented the space in every possible permutation, the stage was transformed into a graceful game of miniature golf, complete with holes that magically appeared for the balls.
At the theater for you, I’m George Walker.