For all of the kids (and the rest of us who are really kids at heart) in the audience Saturday night, the Dundalk Community Theatre’s production of a “A Year of Frog and Toad” reminded us that in this day of chaos, division, and violence, simple stories and lessons of kindness and friendship go a long way in soothing the soul.
“…the show’s tales had children mesmerized from beginning to end…”
This charming musical is based on the Arnold Lobel’s children’s books with the main characters of Frog, the happy-go-lucky amphibian, and his best friend Toad, a little crankier companion, who bring out the best in each other by singing and dancing their way through seasonal activities like tending a garden, swimming, and sledding.
Chuck Graham brings a lovable energy to his interpretation of Frog from the very beginning, trying to enthusiastically wake up his friend from winter hibernation. Toad, who would rather sleep a little more, thank you very much, is ably portrayed by Jane C. Boyle, whose comedic timing and physical mannerisms remind one of the great comedienne Melissa McCarthy.
Together, they turn the simplest of tasks into a fun romp through a playful woodland from set designer Marc W. Smith. Just by entering the theater, the audience is whisked away into a make-believe forest where animals roam and the troubles of modern life evaporate away.
The two main characters are surrounded by other wildlife friends (portrayed by cast members Ryan Holmes, Hunter Hubawski, Casey Lane, and Josh Schoff)) who have new costume additions in almost every scene, including colorful bird headpieces, flashy vests for the lizards, the snails’ rolled up “backpacks,” and a special bellboy outfit for Mouse straight from the classic Mickey Mouse story Bellboy Detective.
Hubawski, whose portrayal of Mouse (squeaky voice and all) as well as Young Frog who confronts the “Large and Terrible Frog,” stands out in this production. Lane shines as a “tough guy” turtle who leads the other animals in teasing Toad (who looks funny in a bathing suit) in the big number “Getta Load of Toad.”
The clever lyrics and music by William and Robert Reale, kept the audience laughing out loud, including the snails’ proclamation of their talents in the number “The Letter” where they state, “We put the ‘go’ in escargot!” and in their big finish titled “I’m Coming Out of My Shell” proudly proclaiming, “There were slugs who doubted us; I guess that made us nervous; We never even dared to dream of life in civil service!”
Though the show’s tales had children mesmerized from beginning to end, its clever lyrics, catchy tunes and “feel-good” messaging had the adults in the audience leaving a little happier and more confident that the world can be a better place after all.
Running Time: An hour and 30 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.
“A Year with Frog and Toad” is playing through March 3, 2019. For more ticket and performance information, visit the Dundalk Community Theatre website here.