Cookies, explosions, swimming, talking animals and snails with mail. A year with Frog and Toad is straight out of a children’s book. Literally! Based on the books by Arnold Lobel, A Year with Frog and Toad first debuted at Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis in 2002. The original show went on to be on and off Broadway Eventually being nominated for three Tony’s. In 2007 there was an additional revival at Children’s Theater. Now, A Year with Frog and Toad has returned for the first time in 10 years.
Including a hilarious cast of expressive, endearing, and talented artists, A Year with Frog and Toad left the audience in the best mood possible. Prior to the show, groups of kids and their parents gathered to see this show. Exclamations of surprise and excitement were obviously heard over the orchestra warming up in the pit. A crowd gathered around the orchestra pit to watch the conductor (Victor Zupanc) and the musicians. Throughout the show, the orchestra made the audience laugh. Without the orchestra, the laugh lines and transitions would have been lifeless. Not to mention the actual songs in the musical.
The show started with a back-lit stage silhouetting the three birds, which would be the narrators of the show. With a small cast of 5 people, these birds would act as the rest of the characters, with 16 characters all together. Traci Allen Shannon, Matt Rubbelke, and Autumn Ness brought these extra characters to life. Ness, and Shannon worked as a very good duo. Using facials and body structure in creative ways to make the characters seem straight out of a children’s book. Rubbelke was on a whole different level. Rubbelke’s returning and most hilarious character was Snail. Originally enlisted to deliver a letter to Toad (Reed Sigmund) from Frog (Bradley Greenwald), the Snail with the mail becomes a running gag throughout the show. Eventually turning him into the newest postal delivery man. For anyone who knows anything about snails, this is never a good idea.
One of the best things about A Year with Frog and toad would have to be the consistency. I the opening scene, Toad hits his clock with a shoe, completely breaking it. Asking Toad what time it is becomes a running joke throughout the show. Eventually resolving itself with the help of Frog.
As the show progressed, Toad became a favorite of the children and adults alike. Sigmund’s characterization of Toad brought comedy to the stage. Making the show more fun to watch, creating anticipation for the next hilarious laugh line. Sigmund’s hilarious facials and pronunciation made Toad seem exactly the like the worry wart of the stories. No pun intended. Even when Toad was angry, Sigmund managed to make the character funny in its own way. So that even when Toad was yelling at Frog, the kids in the audience were laughing.
Of course, this show is originally intended for children. As it is based on a children's book, and was performed at the Children's Theater. Though it is meant for children, I would ultimately recommend this show for anyone who has kids, is a kid, or was a kid at some point in time. This show made a creative atmosphere where anyone was free to laugh and be goofy.