The Green Earth Players really brought the GREEN last weekend with their musical production of A Year With Frog and Toad! Who knew that, just thirty minutes East on I-90, there is quality musical theatre to be had for the whole family!
The production, held in the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Luverne, Minnesota, is a lovely, century old venue, with the gorgeous woodwork of the era. You would never realize that this is also the local movie theater, but for the first-rate concession stand. The stage and seating are of modest size, a bit smaller than the Belbas within the Washington Pavilion. But, when that curtain opened, a lush, green world was revealed and we were transported to the world of Frog and Toad.
The story begins as Frog and Toad are awakening from their winter slumber. Frog is eager to get moving; Toad, not so much. I think Toad is my spirit animal. We follow the two through a year of adventures, through fun times and scary times, meeting lots of local creatures along the way. Frog and Toad are the stars of the show, with Casey McKenzie’s chipper attitude and lovely voice giving us a Frog that is an intelligent leader. Shawn Kinsinger is cast as Toad and creates such a repertoire of toad-escent facial expressions that we couldn’t quit laughing. His mouth was great but, his EYES! They bugged, rolled, and side-lagged, doing everything to make us believe he really was a toad! These two actors had amazing comic chemistry and timing.
All of the characters were fun; the naughty squirrels creating chaos, the fairy that changed the seasons, the darling mouse, who looked like a princess, but clearly had less than royal thoughts in her head. The bird trio was a colorful flock that added narration and clarity to the story, usually through song. My favorite was “Getta Load of Toad”, an upbeat toe tapper. Two other stand-outs were Turtle, who waxed her shell with Turtle Wax, and the Mail Snail, who brought life to the phrase “snail mail”; very….very…..slowly. Not so slow was the Act I Finale, “Cookies”, in which the characters could not stop eating freshly baked cookies. It was like a stage full of “Cookie Monsters”, with crumbs flying into the orchestra pit!
The set for the play was rich with color and movement, representing seasons, a flying kite, a running stream, the homes of our heroes, and, best of all: a snow hill for speed-sledding! It truly was all believable, so much so that my granddaughter, Kalie (aka Speedy as she was wearing her cape and mask), did not want the story to end, and requested a photo with each and every character. That’s how much fun this show was. The costumes were also very creatively done, using many common household items to represent parts of the animals’ bodies.
This first rate production is totally worth the thirty minute car ride and will keep your children’s attention throughout. I urge you to check it out this weekend.
Show runs Friday, March 18th & Saturday, March 19th, with showings at 7:30pm. Sunday, March 20th is a 2:00pm matinee. Tickets are $14 for Adults & $7 for kids/students. They are reserved seating, so, if you want to get tickets ahead, call (507) 283-4339. No cards are accepted. It is CASH or CHECK only.