A Year With Frog and Toad

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A Year with Frog and Toad

 

Over Due Theatre Company

Monday, October 6, 2008 3:14 PM CDT

Play: A Year with Frog and Toad

Group: Over Due Theatre Company

Venue: Olivette Community Center, 9723 Grandview Drive

Dates: October 10,11,12

Tickets: From $10 to $14; contact 636-328-6546

Story: Based on the children’s books written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel, this breezy (90 minutes), two-act musical follows the exploits of a pair of woodland friends, the worrying Toad and his effervescent pal Frog, from early spring to the following spring. Brothers Robert Reale (music) and Willie Reale (book and lyrics) blend their talents to adapt Lobel’s stories about the amphibious pair and their assorted friends (birds, moles, snail, turtle, mouse, lizard) to the stage.

Highlights: Under the loving and measured direction of Joshua Cook, this St. Louis premiere of the 2003 Tony Award-nominated musical is given a charming and winsome production by Overdue Theatre. Cook’s cast pleasantly captures the essence of each of their characters, led by the winning combination of John Wolbers as the affable Frog and Tom Kopp as the dubious Toad. Both of them play off each other in smooth, graceful style, showing how yin and yang make a nice pair.

Other Info: There’s fine support by Chrissy Brooks as the eternally optimistic if overly plodding Snail, intent on delivering a letter from Frog to the lonely Toad, and by Carin Thyssen, Bradley Behrmann and Valleri Dillard as a trio of wisecracking birds and various other critter inhabitants, each accentuating the comic elements of their characters.

Musical director Mary Sutherland leads her capable ensemble from the keyboards, joined by flutists Donna Vicini and Debbie Woolverton, Cooper Minnis on tuba, Virginia Luetje on banjo, percussionist Max Brown and Mark Thiel on clarinet and saxophone. The set design by Kopp and Wolbers is effectively presented in brightly colored, cartoon style as befits the subject matter, complemented by Sarah Worner’s festive costumes which appropriately echo the respective personalities of the characters. Some sweet choreography by Belinda Quimby also matches the upbeat mood of the piece.

The songs are pleasant enough, too, if not particularly memorable. Interestingly, the cast does best on solo efforts, while some of the ensemble pieces, seem muted and feint by comparison.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a delightful piece for the youngsters, who ironically enough were in short supply on opening night. Let’s hope the second weekend has a more familial look to the audience.

Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5. Copyright © 2008 - Ladue News