Frog and Toad are recognized world-wide as some of the closest friends in any children’s literature, and the two have spent many years together and in the hearts of people young and old. Last week, the theatre and dance program put on “A Year With Frog and Toad,” a musical collection of the short stories written by Arnold Lobel that have warmed hearts since the 1970s, at the Redfern Arts Center.
The show started off with the classic tale of the two neighbors in the forest, coming out of hibernation to spend another year together. The musical numbers brought a new element to the stories that someone familiar with the books may be surprised by.
Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance and director of “A Year With Frog and Toad” Kirstin Riegler said they wanted to put on a smaller musical, specifically one that is classified as “TYA,” which stands for theatre for young audiences.
“I actually performed [“A Year With Frog and Toad”] as an actor about nine years ago in [Washington] D.C., and they always loved the show so much. We wanted to do a smaller musical with a smaller cast size and, in the five years that I have been here, there hasn’t been a show that’s been geared toward all audiences,” said Riegler.
The process of having any show come together can be stressful, but it always seems to be worth it. Riegler explained the rehearsal process for the show was intensive with such a short time, starting at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester. Both five and six-hour rehearsals were needed to learn the songs and dances the show contained.
The set design for the show was very concise, but folded out to reveal more to the set than met the eye. Lights, theatrical fog and live musical accompaniment made the show feel as if one were watching the storybooks play out before their eyes.
Keene State junior and theatre and dance major Anna Fialho said that after she saw they were holding auditions and after watching videos of other productions of the musical, she needed to see what Keene State’s adaptation would bring to the stage.
“I think it was really good… I think this one is very unique for it to be done in the [black] box setting that the Wright Theatre is, but it is very niche and very intimate between the cast and the audience,” said Fialho.
First-year at Keene State Erika Walker, who played the role of Toad, said that with Riegler at the helm of the production, putting every aspect of the show together was nothing short of a pleasure.
“I think the one thing that will always stick with me is probably, honestly, playing with the cookies for the song ‘Cookies.’ I don’t know why that number sticks with me, but so does the opening, especially the feeling of the light hitting my house and the patterns around the set,” said Walker.
For updates on the showtimes and scheduling of plays at the Redfern Arts Center, visit www.keene.edu/arts/redfern or visit the Redfern main lobby for printed schedules.
Alex Dube can be reached at