Childhood friends Frog and Toad are getting ready to emerge from hibernation, with the help of Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department.
For the next two weeks, Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre will turn forested for Tony Award-nominated “A Year with Frog and Toad.”
The musical is based on the children’s books by Arnold Lobel and follows best friends Frog and Toad through the year after they emerge from hibernation.
Directed by theatre and dance professor Virginia Anderson, “A Year with Frog and Toad” is described as “heartwarming” and “family friendly.” The family fun, however, only lasts an hour, and only features five cast members.
Theatre arts sophomore Brigitte Losey plays a bird, a mole, mother frog and a turtle. The original play was written for five cast members, and Losey said they wanted to stay true to the original script.
The cast consists of three men and two women, and Losey said she was surprised she was selected for the cast.
“There was so much talent at auditions,” she said. “I was blown away.”
The hopeful cast members were put through singing and dancing auditions and a round of callbacks before the decision was made, Losey said.
And when the cast was selected, Losey was excited for the opportunity to get closer to four students she already knew.
“We knew each other going into this,” she said. “But this has definitely been a bonding experience.”
The cast has been hard at work since the first Monday of the school year and has spent roughly 15 hours each week rehearsing.
But the acting isn’t the only reason to pay a visit to the theater next week, Losey said. The set and costume design are also sights to be seen. They’re painted by department head Tim Dugan’s daughter, Teresa Shea, whose scenic paintings have received Los Angeles Ovation Awards.
“The sets are incredible,” Losey said. “And the costume designers have really outdone themselves.”
But all visuals aside, Anderson said the best part of the whole show is the message it conveys.
“In light of everything that has been happening in the world, there was something that I found so wonderfully centering about being reminded of the wonderful color of friendship, of human connections,” she said. “To kind of have that celebration of meaningful relationships is really exciting.”
After teaching a children’s theater class, Anderson said it was especially exciting to put to practice what she and her students had been working on in class. For many of them, it’s a new opportunity.
“What’s different about children’s theater is you have to play it from a point of sincerity,” she said. “We’ve been having a lot of fun with opportunities for interactions with the audience, too.”
While the play is categorized as children’s theater, Anderson and Losey both urged that it isn’t just a child’s play. The cast has spent its rehearsals thinking of ways to subtly allude to other musicals, Anderson said, and musical theater aficionados may have extra laughs in store for them.
But most importantly, everyone can relate to the friendship Frog and Toad have, Anderson said.
“Grab your best friend, even if you know nothing about the show, grab your best friend and go see the show,” she said. “It will be such a wonderful affirmation of friendship and why your best friends are your best friends.”
“A Year with Frog and Toad” opens Thursday at 8 p.m. and closes Saturday at 7 p.m. Ticket information can be found on the PolyTix website.
“It’s only an hour,” Anderson. “Take a study break. It really is delightful.”