Salt Lake Acting Company continues its December tradition by presenting a theater experience geared to children, A Year with Frog and Toad.The Tony-nominated musical is adapted from a series of award-winning books and is a perfect holiday treat. The books and lyrics for the play were written by Willie Reale with music by Robert Reale.
According to director Penny Caywood, “The music is a toe-tapping score. There are jokes for adults and kids. And best of all, it is based on great children’s books that shouldn’t be missed.”
Frog and Toad are best friends who experience a series of adventures filled with fun. And appropriate to that Caywood says that even the auditions were entertaining. Instead of the usual scene performance auditioners were asked to study and present a chapter from one of the books. Some performed and some simply read the text, and everyone had a good time.
The cast was whittled down to five talented performers; Logan Tarantino as Frog, Nate Waite as Toad, Terry Lee McGriff as Snail, Amelia Rose Moore as Turtle and Jenessa Bowen as Mouse. Terry, Amelia and Jenessa also fill in as several other characters. Between them, the young actors have a wealth of experience, having performed across the Wasatch Front as well as studying their craft at the University of Utah and Weber State.
Director Penny Caywood heads the Youth Theater Program at the University of Utah and staged the play there in 2006. She loves the production and is happy to be involved with it again. She says one of the most gratifying things about the play is that seeing it leads the kids back to the books.
Besides several performances the cast takes educational assemblies out to local schools and do readings at public libraries and bookstores. Several school groups will attend matinee performances including Title One schools from low-income areas.
Everything about the play is geared to a young audience. It is one-act and runs about one hour. It is performed in a small intimate space. SLAC is the only professional theater in the area doing plays for children. For many children, it is their first exposure to live theater.
At the end of the play the actors come out and interact with the audience during a question and answer forum. Caywood says the feedback is great for the audience and benefits the actors. They get caught up in the excitement and the energy expands into the performances. The magic of friendship comes alive on a Salt Lake stage.
A Year with Frog and Toad runs December 5-27, 2014. Salt Lake Acting Company is located at 168 West 500 North and you can visit their website at www.saltlakeactingcompany.org