A Year With Frog and Toad Ends Bway Run June 15; Regional Life Expected

By Kenneth Jones
June 15, 2003

A Year With Frog and Toad, the Tony Award nominated new musical, closes June 15 at the Cort Theatre after 15 previews and 73 performances, but producer designer Adrianne Lobel told Playbill On-Line there is hope for future productions.

Ideas for a tour are being explored, Lobel said, but nothing is set yet. She said various scenarios are being looked at and that regional theatres have shown interest. The set, designed by Lobel after her writer-illustrator father's ideas, will go into storage.

"There are some theatres that would like to have it come back every year, like A Christmas Carol," Lobel said. Given the small cast of five, the show should have a lush regional life once its script and score are licensed.

Of the Broadway run, Lobel conceded, "We did very consistent business, but it wasn't enough. We had the cutest audience in town, there's no doubt about that."

The show was groundbreaking in that it brought professional children's theatre to the Broadway arena, sparking the interest of the age 3-to-10 set. Kids beamed with delight and so did their parents as they saw Arnold Lobel's kid lit classics, about forest creatures and their daily (human-like) lives, come to life.

"People keep saying we are pioneers and we will see this will have an effect in the future," Lobel said of planting the theatre seed in kids. "I hope [producers] make room for that audience. If we don't do theatre for that age group, there won't be theatre in the next 20 years or 30 years. The disappointment is that it doesn't seem like a lot of people are bringing their children to the theatre."

The show earned 2003 Tony Award nominations for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. Jay Goede played Frog and Mark Linn-Baker (Lobel's husband) was Toad.

What would Lobel's father, the creator of Frog and Toad, have thought of A Year With Frog and Toad on Broadway?

"He loved theatre, he was gaga about theatre he would have been tickled green," she said, adding he would have loved the fact that his son-in-law was Toad.

A Year With Frog and Toad, as the title suggests, follows a year in the lives of two amphibious pals in the woods. Cookies, bathing, the seasons, Christmas and friendship are all celebrated via the music of Robert Reale and the book and lyrics of brother Willie Reale.

The show was developed by producer-designer Adrianne Lobel, whose scenic designs are seen in opera houses and theatres around the country. A Year With Frog and Toad was first seen in summer 2002 in Minneapolis at The Children's Theatre Company, which was a 2003 Tony recipient for Regional Theatre.

David Petrarca directs and Daniel Pelzig choreographs. A Year With Frog and Toad opened Sunday, April 13. The cast includes Danielle Ferland, Jennifer Gambatese and Frank Vlastnik (who was an audience favorite as "the snail with the mail," whose delivery was naturally slow). Linda Twine conducted, and Irwin Fisch handled the orchestrations,

Frog and Toad was produced by Bob Boyett, Lobel, Michael Gardner, Lawrence Horowitz and Roy Furman and Scott E. Nederlander.

A cast album is available at the theatre and via the website, but there is no label or distributor yet, preventing it from going wide. Actress Kate Reinders, now in the Broadway revival of Gypsy, is featured on the album and performed in Minneapolis. On Broadway, Jennifer Gambatese plays the role Reinders originated.

Songs in the score include "A Year With Frog and Toad," "It's Spring," "Seeds," "The Letter," "Getta Loada Toad," "Alone," "Cookies," "The Kite," "He'll Never Know," "Shivers," "Down the Hill," "I'm Coming Out of My Shell," "Toad to the Rescue" and "Merry Almost Christmas."

Visit www.grogandtoadbroadway.com.

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Jay Goede missed performances in recent weeks due to a burst appendix. He returned to the show May 30, and appeared on the June 9 Tony Award telecast with Linn Baker to sing "Alone," a song about solitude, contemplation and friendship.