A Year With Frog And Toad: delightful

At Childrens Theatre Company, through June 18

Bradley Greenwald, Reed Sigmund, Matt Rubbelke, Autumn Ness and Traci Allen Shannon in A Year With Frog And Toad. Photo: Dan Norman.

Two words describe the A Year With Frog And Toad (at CTC, through June 18).

First: sweet. Anyone who can watch this delightful show without a constant smile needs professional help. Toad (played by Reed Sigmund, the reincarnation of Fatty Arbuckle) is wild and blustery, whereas Frog (Bradley Greenwald, the reincarnation of Buster Keaton) is buttoned down and contained. We follow these amphibious slash reptilian gents as they swim, celebrate Christmas, work on their garden, rake the leaves, etc. Their interdependence, their mutual affection and love easily balances out the potential for discord inherent in their differing personalities. A much-needed and refreshing theme in this time of nasty divisiveness.

Sometimes conflict does break out, as when, after a scary sled ride, Toad shouts impulsively, “I’m never speaking to you again!” Or when Frog tells Toad a super-scary story about a huge frogocidal, Oz-like entity in the forest, and Toad shivers, “Did this really happen…?” For mere mortals like you and me, this would mark the end of the friendship, but we trust F and T to work it out. And they do. Wonderful.

Word #2: tuneful. The brothers Reale (music by Robert; book and lyrics by Willie) have fashioned, in A Year With Frog And Toad, a wonderful series of songs which serve to pull this otherwise episodic-to-a-fault show together. The music is performed by the super-gifted Sigmund and Greenwald and by a terrific song-and-dance, multiple-casting (Mouse, Snail – memorably – Squirrel, Fish) chorus. Matt Rubbelke, Autumn Ness and Traci Allen Shannon. If your toes aren’t tapping throughout, please see the above-referenced therapist.

A Year With Frog And Toad is based on the series of books by the late Arnold Lobel and was directed by the (deservedly) busy Peter Rothstein who keeps the show zipping entertainingly along.

Did the kids love it? Well, “love” may not be the right word. They were quietly engrossed by the antics of the play. Very little squirrelly fidgeting. Lots of lap-sitting and low laughter. If you’re looking for something to take your munchkin(s) to, well, here it is.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. His screenplays, A Slaying Song Tonight and The Deflowering Of Father Trimleigh are under option. Please visit his informational website.

 

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