I’d be hard-pressed to name a literary series more charming than Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books- and it would be impossible to name a company more perfectly suited to capture that charm than Chicago Children’s Theatre. CCT’s newest hit, A Year with Frog and Toad, (directed by Henry Godinez) is a wonderful blend of humor, sweetness, and the type of enthralling stage magic which has become synonymous with their all-ages shows.
photo credit: Charles Osgood
From the moment the theater is entered, the audience finds themselves in a lovely world layered with forestry and a fascinating theme of gypsy caravan culture. The story starts at the end of winter’s hibernation, and it follows four seasons of the eponymous duo’s friendship; there’s the impatience (and reward) of planting Spring seeds, the glee of Summer, Fall’s chores (and secret good deeds), and the seasonal delights of Winter. This upbeat musical (created by Robert and Willie Reale and under the musical direction of Andra Velis Simon and Nicholas Davio) features catchy songs and incredibly appealing characters.
The talented ensemble zips from scene to scene (and character to character) with enthusiasm and an impressive energy. According to my daughter, The Mouse (Christine Bunuan) was simply wonderful- as was Brittani Arlandis Green’s witty Turtle. We both agreed that The Snail (Shawn Pfautsch) and his adorable storyline were worth the price of admission. And obviously, Frog and Toad (Karl Hamilton and Mark David Kaplan, respectively) were endearing, hilarious, and perfectly suited to play these delightful and beloved storybook icons.
Running at a little over an hour, A Year with Frog and Toad is best suited for ages four and up. There was one mildly spooky sequence- which my four year-old later declared to be her favorite part of the performance.
Do not miss this terrific theatrical event; spending time with A Year with Frog and Toad is an undeniably satisfying family-friendly endeavor.
A Year with Frog and Toad
The Ruth Page Dearborn Center for the Arts
1016 N. Dearborn St, Chicago