A Year With Frog and Toad at Kensington Arts Theatre’s Second Stage at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, MD is quality family entertainment. The musical is based on the children’s books by Arnold Lobel. My four year-old daughter thought it was “awesome, cool,” and I was glad she enjoyed her first theatre experience.
The story is the tale of two friends – Toad and Frog. The musical covers a year in their lives starting in the Spring of one year and finishing the Spring of the following year. The musical opening and ending on “A Year With Frog and Toad.” This production starred Ryan Burke as Frog. Ryan is one of our Editor’s [Joel Markowitz] favorite young local actors. Joel honored Ryan for his performances in The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee, and recently was named as one of The Favorite Performances in a Musical for the past year for his beautifully sung performance in Kensington Arts Theatre’s production of The Last Five Years (which I reviewed).
In this musical Ryan does not disappoint. Ryan delivered a strong performance on his solo number “Seeds,” and his interplay with Gabriel Potter, who plays Toad, is outstanding. Highlights include He’ll Never Know” and “A Year With Frog and Toad.”
Gabriel Potter plays the role of Toad well. His solo of “Alone” is wonderful. He plays his character well with all the flaws that make him Toad and with all the heart that makes him loveable. The flaws are Toad’s not Potter, he just brings them out like he should. Darnell Morris and Mayumi Baker direct a wonderful musical. Darnell deserves a little extra credit for the choreography of the ensemble.
Justine Lore, who plays the Turtle is very entertaining in the “Getta Load of Toad” number. The ensemble tossing the “bubble” balls into the crowd was a brilliant way to keep the younger audience members engaged into the musical and provide a bit of a break. The ensemble team of Jenny Abraham, Justin Lore, Carl Williams and David “DJ” Wojciehowski played the roles of birds splendidly – including some well choreographed dance numbers.
David had some real talent when he was able to let it shine. Unfortunately, he had trouble remembering his lines as the Snail. After the show I heard some children talking about the Snail and his lines. “DJ” did show he had the talent as a singer and a performer. Hopefully, as the production runs – he will get his lines down so they won’t distract from his talent.
The cast really cared about its audience. They met them downstairs after the show and posed for photos with the kids. They wanted to deliver an entertaining, family musical and they succeeded. If you are looking for a fun day at the theatre with your family look no farther than The Arts Barn.
Running Time: Approximately 70 minutes, with no intermission.
A Year With Frog and Toad plays Saturday and Sunday through September 25th at The Arts Barn-311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland. For tickets call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.