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Chicago Children's Theatre presents A Year with Frog and Toad
Jul 5, 2013


A Year With Frog and Toad ChicagoAfter seven years and 20 productions, Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) is kicking off its 8th season with a new production of one of the shows it still gets the most requests to bring back - the company's inaugural smash hit, A Year with Frog and Toad.

Lobel's beloved characters hop from the page to the stage in this whimsical musical that follows two best friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four, fun-filled seasons. Performances start October 9, 2013 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. Press opening is Friday, October 11 at 7 p.m. Performances run through November 24. A Year with Frog and Toad is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Ever-popular children's author and illustrator Arnold Lobel's well-loved characters hop from the page to the stage in A Year with Frog and Toad, a whimsical musical that follows two best friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four, fun-filled seasons. Waking from hibernation in the spring, Frog and Toad plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, go sledding and learn life lessons, celebrating and rejoicing in their differences that make them unique and special along the way. Kid-captivating musical numbers include "Cookies," "Getta Loada Toad," "I'm Coming Out of My Shell" and "Merry Almost Christmas." Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, A Year With Frog and Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

Chicago Children's Theatre's design team for A Year with Frog and Toad reflects the very best of Chicago's top professional theater artists: Henry Godinez (director); Andra Velis Simon and Nicholas Davio (music directors); Geoffrey Curley (scenic design); William Kirkham (lighting design); Ray Nardelli (sound); Rachel Healy (costume design); Tommy Rapley (choreography); and Kimberly Morris (properties design). JoHannah Hall is production stage manager. The cast is TBA.

"I'm so excited to re-investigate another Year with Frog and Toad! With several new creative collaborators, a new space and a whole new generation of young audiences, we look forward to discovering a whole new depth of humor and charm in this enchanting tale of lasting friendship," said Godinez.

Godinez (director) staged both A Year with Frog and Toad (2006) and Esperanza Rising (2008) for Chicago Children's Theatre, both at the Goodman Theatre. He is the resident artistic associate at Goodman Theatre and the curator of the Latino Theatre Festival. His Goodman directing credits include The Sins of Sor Juana and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías, Jose Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted (and world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre), Regina Taylor's Millennium Mambo, Luis Alfaro's Straight as a Line, The Cook by Eduardo Machado, Electricidad by Luis Alfaro, Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez, Red Cross by Sam Shepard (in Regina Taylor's Transformations), the Goodman/Teatro Vista co-production of Jose Rivera's Cloud Tectonics, and the 1996 - 2001 productions of A Christmas Carol. Godinez's other Chicago credits include Two Sisters and a Piano (Apple Tree Theatre/Teatro Vista co-production) and Anna in the Tropics for Victory Gardens Theater. Godinez is the co-founder and former artistic director of Teatro Vista, where he directed Broken Eggs, El Paso Blue, Journey of the Sparrows, Santos & Santos and The Crossing. His other directing credits include work at Portland Center Stage, Signature Theatre Company in New York City, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, Godinez appeared most recently in the Goodman/Teatro Vista world premiere of Jose Rivera's Massacre (Sing to Your Children) and on TV in The Beast, The Chicago Code, Boss and Chicago Fire. Born in Havana, Cuba, Godinez is an associate professor at Northwestern University and serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Arts Council, Albany Park Theater Project and the editorial board of Northwestern University Press. He is the recipient of the 1999 Theatre Communications Group Alan Schneider Director Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Lawyers for the Creative Arts and was honored as the 2008 Latino Professional of the Year by the Chicago Latino Network.

Frog and Toad are the main characters in a series of easy-reader books written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel in the 1970s. Each book contained five simple, often humorous, often poignant short stories about their adventures together. Frog and Toads are Friends (1970) was the recipient of a Caldecott Honor award and was named one of the Top 100 Picture Books of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. Frog and Toad Together (1972) won a Newbery Honor award.

The musical A Year with Frog and Toad, adapted by brothers Robert (music) and Willie Reale (books and lyrics), was commissioned by Lobel's daughter, Adrianne Lobel. It was first produced in 2002 by the Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis, and was remounted off-Broadway later that year at the New Victory Theater. It ran briefly on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in 2003, winning three Tony nominations (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score) and breaking new ground by bringing professional children's theatre for the 3-to-10-set to Broadway.

The most affordable way to enjoy CCT's 2013-14 season is to purchase a Family Membership Pass, on sale now and offering a 20 percent discount on all three plays next season (A Year with Frog and Toad, the world premiere rhythm and blues musical Mr. Chickee's Funny Money based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis with original music by Motown legend Lamont Dozier, and the return of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.)

Family Membership Passes also come with exclusive benefits like invitations to members-only behind-the-scenes events and discounts at nearby family-friendly restaurants. To purchase a Family Membership Pass or for more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call the Chicago Children's Theatre Box Office, (872) 222-9555.

Single tickets to A Year with Frog and Toad go on sale August 1, and start at $25. To purchase, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For information on discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting organizations, visit GroupTix.net or call (773) 327-3778.


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