A Year with Frog and Toad based on the books of Arnold Lobel
The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of A Year with Frog and Toad at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center plays through May 29.
Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center
May 14-May 29, 2011
Just in time for amphibians’ spring awakening from hibernation, the Cardinal Stage Company brings us A Year with Frog and Toad. It’s a colorful and clever production based on the books of Arnold Lobel, directed by Randy White, with lyrics and music by Willie and Robert Reale.
Veterans Hone, While Newbies Offer Verve
The always outstanding—but never scene-stealing—Mike Price reprises the role of Frog, which he played for the company back in 2006. Back too is Alex Shotts, still an audience favorite as the slow moving ‘snail with the mail.’
Choreographer Esther Widlanski is also a veteran of the original production. She’s added some exciting and tightly worked out dance sequences that were much appreciated by the preview audience.
There are new faces in the show as well. Peter Sipla is a sympathetic lead and foil as Frog’s best friend Toad. Ellen Doyle and Hana Slevin are nicely featured as Mouse and Turtle. They also made for a talented duo as birds, squirrels, and moles.
Not Just For Fun
With its clear lessons about patience, loneliness, being shy about the way we look, and the importance and fragility of friendship, A Year with Frog and Toad is for kids. Still, I think it was the adults who enjoyed some parts most.
Those who’ve suffered their children’s’ “are we there yet” syndrome enjoyed the episode wherein Toad is disappointed with the slow progress of his garden: In the face of Toad’s impatience, Frog is forced to explain—at length—what ‘soon,’ ‘a while’ and ‘later’ each means. These and the other lessons are thoughtfully worked into the show, but they’re mostly fun and seldom preachy.
Much Of What You Get Is What you See…
The colorful and cleverly deployed sets and props are by Sarah Sandberg and Gordon Strain. Alexandra Morphet’s costumes are a key part of the show. They range from the realistic leiderhausen of the young frog to the airline hostess outfits for the Bird Sisters, frilly flapper outfits for Turtle and Mouse, a silvery zoot suit for Lizard, the marching band outfit for the ‘snail with the mail’ and the varied and fanciful outfits for Frog and Toad. I particularly enjoyed the furry mole sisters complete with their dark glasses.
…But What You Hear Is Solid Too!
Music director Eric Anderson, Jr. has done a fine job of preparing the singers. He leads a seven piece ensemble for music that includes straight Broadway sounds, a bit of country shuffle, Charleston style dance numbers and even a bit of operetta.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.