Frog and Toad is great

These two amphibians make beautiful music


 
 
Chicago Children’s Theatre makes a big splash with its inaugural production, "A Year with Frog and Toad." The award-winning musical adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s charming books is a treat for all ages. Fast-paced and funny, the show illustrates the ups and downs of friendships with great music, talented actors and engaging special effects.

Even without knowing the story, it took only a few minutes for my 5-year-old to buy into the world the play created, especially given the fantastic sets, creative costumes and realistic sound effects, provided mostly by the excellent live musicians.

The story takes Frog and Toad through the four seasons. They swim, tell scary stories and even sleigh ride. It’s all played out by a three-person supporting ensemble who do a variety of roles including birds, a turtle, a mouse and a hilarious snail-mail carrier.

But as you can guess from the name, the play is all about Frog and Toad and relies heavily on the talents of the two lead actors, who do not disappoint. Bradley Mott is outrageously funny as the high-strung Toad, sending everyone in the audience into fits of laughter with his elastic facial expressions and exaggerated line deliveries. Joseph Anthony Foronda anchors Frog with playful dignity and makes the play’s moral lessons of friendship easy to swallow.

Part of the mission of this new theater is to provide family entertainment on a grand scale, giving its shows Broadway-style production values. And it is remarkable. Moving waters, blossoming flowers, falling leaves and dancing snowflakes are some of the fantastic effects which take the production up a notch.

At one hour and 45 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission), this show is best for ages 5 and up. The second act story of the terrible and giant frog was intense and a little too scary for some of the little kids on a Sunday afternoon, but overall the show’s director, Henry Godinez, has found the perfect balance to appeal to audiences of any age.

Performances run through March 5 at the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. Check out the interactive displays in the lobby by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum about frogs and toads. It makes pre-show and intermission more fun.

Performances are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.; Fridays at 6:30 p.m., Saturdays at 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. (The 3:30 p.m. show is the Target Family Matinee Series, where tickets are two for one.). Tickets range from $17-$38. For tickets or more information, call the Goodman Theatre box office at (312) 443-3800 or visit www.goodman-theatre.org.

Alena Murguia

 
 





 
 
 
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