By Devon Cavic —
Rekindle the memories of your childhood with the University of Wisconsin–Stout Theatre’s production of the whimsical and hysterical musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad.” This all-ages performance based on the children’s books written by Arnold Lobel demonstrates the give-and-take relationship of the two compatible yet very different characters, Frog and Toad.
Paul Calenberg is the director and picked the musical for this spring’s production.
“It’s been a number of years since we’ve done a production that’s appropriate for all ages, so I thought it was time to revisit that genre,” Calenberg said.
Although the show is appropriate for all ages, there is plenty of humor for people at every age level to enjoy. Multiple times throughout rehearsal the cast and crew doubled over in fits of laughter at the hilarity of the characters.
“The music is fun, and it’s infectious, and the choreography is fun, and the characters are endearing, and so during the rehearsal process it’s just been delightful. It’s lots of fun and lots of laughter,” Calenberg said.
The musical has an episodic structure where the audience gets to see glimpses into different events from Frog and Toad’s lives throughout the course of the year.
Jason Lasee is playing the timid and sometimes pessimistic Toad. Lasee notices that without Frog encouraging him to participate, Toad wouldn’t attempt many of the activities throughout the play.
“Toad really depends on Frog to be his friend,” Lasee said.
Throughout the musical it is obvious that it’s not a one-way street in this friendship. In one scene, Toad makes an unnatural, courageous decision to go looking for Frog on an island because Toad is worried that Frog is sad and needs cheering up.
Ben Greenlee is playing the role of the energetic and optimistic Frog.
“The two roles work really well together, back and forth,” Greenlee said.
The dynamic between Frog and Toad shows the true push and pull of friendship. Toad needs support from Frog to step out of his comfort zone, and Frog relies on Toad to always be there for him. The other animals featured in the show demonstrate qualities that are not as nice.
“Some of the other characters have a little bit of a mean streak in them so that kind of acts as a contrast to what it really means to care about someone and treat them with kindness.” Calenberg said.
As the musical progresses, the chemistry of Frog and Toad’s friendship reveals itself. The other characters also develop their own personalities. The masterfully placed mini scenes between each Frog and Toad episode help with the fluidity of the musical and are sure to keep the audience entertained and laughing.
“A Year with Frog and Toad” will be performed in the Mabel Tainter Theater April 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee at 1:30 p.m. on April 18. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children twelve and under. Tickets are available at www.tickets.uwstout.edu.