In full disclosure, we were provided tickets to this production in exchange for our honest review.
A clear sign of a great show is when you walk into the parking lot and you overhear children singing and talking about the characters. It wasn’t just MY family repeating song lyrics, but a lot of the audience who watched A Year with Frog and Toad at the Growing Stage. It is the last show for their 2014-15 year, and I am ecstatic that we were able to see it. It is simply an experience that leaves you happy and content!
A Year with Frog and Toad is inspired by the stories written by Arnold Lobel’s on two unique friends. Frog is the effervescent and happy foil to Toad, a nervous and awkward character. Together they embark on many adventures. Their stories have found homes in many children’s and library bookshelves which is why when it was transformed into a Broadway musical it is no surprise that it was Tony nominated. A Year with Frog and Toad follows this friendship through the course of a year as they participate in many seasonal activities but always remain true to themselves and their friendship.
The show is an uplifting musical that highlights adventures and experiences during each season of the year. I am not a traditional fan of musicals, however I found myself tapping my feet with the first number and throughout the show. My daughter followed along as the music was addictive and captured her attention every time. This is a small cast but each member was impressive. From the quality of the singing to the sheer enthusiasm they demonstrated, we each had a favorite character.
While my husband thought Toad played by Jason Scott Quinn was the best, my daughter was enjoying the singing of Frog played by Ryan Malyar. I loved Izzy Figueroa when he appeared as Snail “carrying mail” and my son was a fan of Lauren Palmeri and Jerielle Morwitz as the birds. While I have discussed the music and singing, the actors each offered many moments that made the audience laugh. The quality of the show made it a wonderful experience for everyone in my family, however as a parent I enjoy the themes presented in A Year with Frog and Toad.
3 Lessons In Friendship Learned from A Year with Frog and Toad
Friendships Take Time
Within the beginning of the first act, Toad is inspired to start his own garden. Within a few moments of planting his seeds he becomes easily frustrated that the plants do not sprout up immediately. With the assistance of Frog he learns that gardening takes time. Just like a garden, friendships and relationships take time to cultivate. The play takes place over the course of a year and it becomes apparent that Frog and Toad have grown as friends over the years. For young children, I think this is a wonderful lesson. We can have initial sparks and connections, but true friendship and solid relationships take time.
Friends Can Be Different
Frog is upbeat and happy while Toad can be anxious and clumsy, but both are caring and kind. While Frog will challenge Toad to attempt new experiences like sledding down a hill, Toad will go to save his friend if he is in danger. Frog and Toad are physically different as well as having contrasting personality qualities which is a wonderful lesson that friends don’t have to be the same. These two characters complement each other perfectly because they bring out the best in each other. I want my children to have friends that bring out the best qualities in them, challenge them to try new experiences, and to emphasize compassion.
Friendship is About Giving
As my children have been read Arnold Lobel’s stories of Frog and Toad, we are familiar with some of their interactions. It was wonderful to see the stories compiled and come to life on the stage because what was transparent is that friends are not focused on themselves. Towards the end of spring, Toad reveals that he has never received a letter. Frog immediately responds by writing him one and having the Snail deliver it which took majority of the play to arrive in his hands. Within every relationship, the most cherished moments are not when we receive attention, gifts, or recognition but when we offer it to those in our lives. I want my children to realize that some of the best experiences in life is when we give to others.
Friendships are important in our lives and A Year with Frog and Toad highlights qualities that are significant to have happy and healthy friendships. Since The Growing Stage is a children’s theatre, they incorporate unique features that further emphasize the message of the play. Towards the back of the audience is a stand where children can fill out a card about who is their friend and why. It was great to assist my son to complete this project and ask him about his friends. Driving home that night after all the talk about our favorite songs, jokes, and moments, we shared what we thought was the most critical theme in the play. More importantly, we talked about friendships and what makes a good friend which is a conversation parents should have with their children.
A Year with Frog and Toad will be running matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm through May 10, 2015. Tickets are $15/children and seniors and $20/adults on Saturday and Sunday. Seating is first come first serve, but every seat in the house provides an excellent view. The Growing Stage is a small theater making it perfect for children especially little ones who may need to get up once in a while. Make sure you stay and take pictures with the cast after the show too!
For more information, please visit The Growing Stage website.