The family-friendly musical hopped to the Cort Theater April 2, following its summer 2002 debut at The Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis and fall run at the New Victory on 42nd Street. The whimsical musical comedy by the brothers Reale — Willie penned book and lyrics, Robert penned the music — is presented by producers Bob Boyett and Adrianne Lobel (with partners) in an unusual eight-show week in which Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are dark and Saturdays see three performances.
The musical based on characters created by the late children's author-illustrator, Arnold Lobel, first appeared in August 2002 in Minneapolis and then played a three week, sold-out run at 42nd Street's New Victory Theatre in fall 2002. Reviews in the Midwest and Manhattan embraced the 90-minute, five-actor show, which featured Mark Linn-Baker as Toad and Jay Goede as Frog (who repeat their duties at the Cort).
In a world where musical theatre seems to struggle to be more fantastically scenic and overwhelming with each new show, Frog and Toad may be this year's simple charmer: A show that opens like a pop-up children's book, with enough clever zip for grownups and enough adventure — and moral lessons such as diversity, acceptance and sharing — for kids.
Adrianne Lobel, who recreates the books' design, is author-illustrator Arnold Lobel's daughter. The show has a top price of $90.
David Petrarca directs and Daniel Pelzig choreographs the show, conceived and designed by Adrianne Lobel. The Reale brothers are known for their Off-Broadway musical, Once Around the City. The show is billed this way: "Tried and true friends Frog and Toad navigate through an adventure-filled year, joined by some colorful companions along the way. Set to a jazzy score, this charming musical lovingly captures the spirit of Lobel's whimsical stories as this unlikely friendship blossoms and grows."
The cast includes Danielle Ferland (Little Red of the original Into the Woods), Jennifer Gambatese (Hairspray, Footloose) and Frank Vlastnik (Sweet Smell of Success), in multiple roles including woodland creatures with shells, fur, feathers or scales.
The producers are Boyett, Lobel, Michael Gardner, Lawrence Horowitz, Roy Furman and Scott E. Nederlander.
Designers are Adrianne Lobel (set), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), James F. Ingalls (lighting), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound). Orchestrations are by Irwin Fisch. Musical director is Linda Twine.
The producers were able to arrange an unusual playing schedule for the show: Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays are dark, and performances play 2 PM and 7 PM Wednesday; 7 PM Friday; noon, 3:30 PM and 7 PM Saturday; 1 PM and 5 PM Sunday.
The Cort is at 138 W. 48th Street. Tickets range $25-$90 and can be purchased by phone at (212) 239-6200, or in person at the Cort Theater box office.
Director Petrarca has been resident director at The Goodman Theatre Company since 1988, where his credits include dozens of productions and recently, the musical The House of Martin Guerre. He helmed Marvin's Room, which ran Off-Broadway (Outer Critics Circle nomination), at Hampstead Theatre (London Fringe Award nomination) and in London's West End. Additional directing credits are the Off-Broadway musical Dinah Was and the world premiere of Fuddy Meers at Manhattan Theatre Club. He will direct a future musical version of Tales of the City.
Producer-set designer Adrianne Lobel has designed the sets for Broadway's Passion, The Diary of Anne Frank, On The Town and My One and Only.
Producer Bob Boyett's Broadway credits include Dance of the Vampires, Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Tony Award for Best Play), Suzan Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize winner), Hedda Gabler with Kate Burton, Sweet Smell of Success, The Crucible with Liam Neeson, The Elephant Man with Billy Crudup, One Mo' Time and Fortune's Fool. Boyett was represented in London by the David Mamet play, Boston Marriage and Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero.
Mark Linn-Baker (Toad) is a producing director of New York Stage and Film. His Broadway credits include A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Face Value and Doonesbury. For many, he is best known as Larry Appleton of TV's "Perfect Strangers."
Jay Goede (Frog) has appeared on Broadway in Sex and Longing, Angels in America and The Play's the Thing. His Off-Broadway credits include A Letter from Ethel Kennedy, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Gross Indecency. Other theatre credits include the national tour of Cabaret and the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Danielle Ferland (Bird/Mother Frog/Turtle/Squirrel/Mole) was seen on Broadway in Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Hotel on the Side and The Crucible.
Jennifer Gambatese (Bird/Mouse/Squirrel/Young Frog/Mole) appeared on Off-Broadway's Reefer Madness, a tour of Fame and in Broadway's Footloose and Hairspray.
Frank Vlastnik (Bird/Father Frog/Snail/Lizard/Mole) has Broadway credits that include Sweet Smell of Success and Big. He has appeared in several Off-Broadway productions including Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night.
Understudies are Kate Manning and Jonathan Rayson.
The original cast album for A Year With Frog and Toad, is available at the Cort Theater and at the A Year With Frog and Toad shop at Toys R Us in Times Square. The recording took place when the show debuted at The Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis in 2002. Actress Kate Reinders, now in the Broadway revival of Gypsy, is featured on the album. Jennifer Gambatese plays the role Reinders originated in the current Broadway run.
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."