Review: Spend ‘A Year With Frog and Toad’
The beloved children's stories come to marvelous life in this lively musical.
There is much to learn from iconic duos: Bert and Ernie, Calvin and Hobbes, Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin, and the quintessential Frog and Toad. In this delightful production of the musical A Year With Frog and Toad, directed by Whit MacLaughlin and now playing at the Arden Theatre Co., the cast and crew pay great homage to Arnold Lobel’s award-winning stories in a show that is sure to delight your entire family.
We begin and end with spring: the season of growth for all things when the birds return and these dapper amphibians awaken to renew their timeless friendship for another year together. They emerge from their respective cottages — clever sets that reveal continuing surprises — to greet each day and each other: Frog in his greens and blues, Toad in his browns and reds.
In between, the seasons and supporting characters change, but Frog and Toad’s sweet friendship remains steady.
The audience surrounds the stage, which pulls everyone in and allows easy observation of delighted faces, young and old alike, seeing familiar bedtime tales come to life and hearing them for the first time. Song and dance and lovely costumes lend richness and carry us through each tale as the seasons roll by.
Jeffrey Coon delivers a delightful performance as Frog, especially as he balances his sympathetic friendship to an embarrassed Toad while still finding humor in the moment, and Steve Pacek delivers an enthusiastic recurring performance as Snail.
Whether baking cookies, sneaking to good deeds, or recounting their year of memories together, Frog and Toad are model friends for all time, and their lessons here reach yet another generation, seen across an audience of smiles.
A Year with Frog and Toad runs through February 3 at the Arden Theatre Co., 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia.
Lead photograph by Mark Garvin, courtesy of the Arden Theatre Co.