A Year with Frog & Toad leaps back into Chicago

Sun. April 14, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Rooted in queer history, the Frog and Toad characters have entertained people following the first book's release in 1970 titled Frog and Toad Are Friends. A Year with Frog & Toad is a musical inspired by these children's stories and capitalizes on the theme of the two friends encountering seasonal challenges.

Chicago Children's Theatre celebrates this Frog's fable once again as part of their programming and continues the tradition of inviting ticket holders to color pages as part of the pre-show festivities.

The story begins with Frog and Toad awakening from a long winter's nap and a trio of birds singing about “Spring.”

This Toad's tale tackles depression and mental health as Toad feels sad about not receiving mail, leaving him lonely. His friend Frog sends a letter through snail mail to cheer him up. but the deliverer faces challenges performing the task. Seasons change and more relatable topics are addressed such as body image for the song “Get Load of Toad” and anxiety for “Down the Hill.”

The plotline solves some issues by Christmastime and everyone goes back to hibernating once again. In the process, kiddies will be entertained and the adults caught up in the story might even feel young again.

The talented duo of Eduardo Curley-Carrillo, who plays Frog, and Nick Druzbanski, who plays Toad, convey their characters well in this 70-minute production served in the round on Racine.

Diego Vazquez Gomez gives a standout performance in multiple roles and steals the show as the slow-moving, but determined, Snail.

The LGBTQ+ backstory is reflected in this important work by its illustrator and author Arnold Lobel. He spent much of his life closeted and expressed being gay through animals used as characters in dozens of children's books. The first Frog and Toad book was published four years before Lobel revealed his true identity to members of his family. His daughter Adrianne Lobel commissioned the musical to be made from her father's writings and her husband developed the script and even played Toad for the Broadway debut.

This production is a return engagement for the Children's Theatre Company and the run has already been extended.

A Year with Frog and Toad shows that strong friendships grow over time and the importance of having special friends in all of our lives.

Get off your lily pad and hop over to Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 South Racine, before June 8, 2024. Explore tickets and times at today!