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A Year with Frog and Toad

"It's a very calming show. It's a feel-good show. It's exactly what we need."
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Choreographer Rachel Ironmonger (left) and artistic director Janice Flower are pumped about St. Albert Children's Theatre winter production, A Year with Frog and Toad taking place at Arden Theatre. ANNA BOROWIECKI/St. Albert Gazette

Friendship and connection are themes that have infiltrated every avenue of the arts and entertainment community. So, it’s not surprising St. Albert Children’s Theatre winter production focuses on characters that learn lessons about life and the importance of friendship. 

A Year with Frog and Toad, a Tony Award nominated musical based on Arnold Lobel’s well-loved children’s books, runs Nov. 24 to 27 and Dec. 2 to 4 at the Arden Theatre. 

In addition to providing high-quality family theatre, SACT is a leadership program whereby older youth mentor younger ones. During COVID’s two-year shutdown, many older actors moved on leaving a shortage of experienced mentors and actors for leading roles.  

Originally, artistic director Janice Flower planned to direct Wizard of Oz

“However, it became very clear early in the auditions that it was not the right demographic for Wizard of Oz. We felt we needed to choose an ensemble show where young children could cut their teeth. We are confident that with Frog and Toad, they will get that experience,” said Flower. 

The breezy production features a cast of 32 with half the actors new to the troupe. Everything takes a bit longer, but Flower and her team have developed contingency plans in case of potential winter illnesses that could derail the show. 

“We’ve double cast the show. We have two frogs and two toads. And all the other speaking roles have understudies. We’ve even had double rehearsals. We’re trying to mitigate potential circumstances that could disappoint the kids.” 

A Year with Frog and Toad is a whimsical show that follows two pond friends, the cheerful Frog and the grumpy Toad through four seasons from spring to winter. As the two friends wake from hibernation, they plant a garden, swim in the pond, rake leaves and go sledding. 

The show features Robert and Willie Reale’s upbeat, jazzy score giving the entire production an exuberant vibe. In fact, eight professional musicians situated in Progressive Hall will be piping live music into the Arden Theatre in real time. 

“A lot of people think it’s a kids’ show. But the music is so good, so sophisticated. I refer to it as a Seinfeld musical. It has a protagonist, antagonist and conflict. It’s a show about nothing or anything. It’s really two friends celebrating friendship and moving through the seasons. It’s simple. It’s exactly what you need at this time,” Flower said. 

In addition to Frog and Toad, the storyline features a series of woodland creatures named Mole, Squirrel, Turtle, Bird and Mouse. 

Since this year is rebuilding year, choreographer Rachel Ironmonger has initiated simple dance moves. 

“There are box steps, grapevines, things they can do easily. I draw more from the feelings and attitudes of their characters. There are different vibes, different characters, different moments. It’s a deceptively hard show. The kids have to be earnestly energetic,” said Ironmonger. 

Through the magic of theatre, patrons will be treated to flowers popping out of the ground, leaves dancing and swimming in a pond. 

“It’s a heart-warming and happy show,” said Ironmonger. 

Flower added, “It’s a very calming show. It’s a feel-good show. It’s exactly what we need.” 

Tickets start at $23.50. Call the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or online at www.tickets.stalbert.ca 


Anna Borowiecki

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