STAGE TUBE: A Scene from Chicago Children's Theatre's A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD

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Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) opens Season 8: Grow tonight with a delightful new production of A Year with Frog and Toad, the Tony-nominated musical based on the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel, directed by Henry Godinez. Performances run through November 24 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. BroadwayWorld has a sneak peek at the cast in action below!

"After seven years and 20 productions, Chicago Children's Theatre is so excited to kick off Season 8: Grow with a new production of one of the shows we've always had the most requests to bring back - our inaugural smash hit, A Year with Frog and Toad," said CCT Artistic Director and Co-Founder Jacqueline Russell. "We can't wait to re-introduce the world of Frog and Toad to a whole new generation of Chicago kids, and see how our original director Henry Godinez, a resident artist at the Goodman, re-envisions this wonderful musical with a new cast, set, costumes, and live band, all at our home at the Ruth Page."

Lobel's well-loved animal characters hop from the page to the stage in this popular family 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.

A diverse and talented cast of professional Chicago actors are having a blast playing the roles of Frog, Toad, and all of their animal friends. Karl Hamilton, making his CCT debut as Frog, most recently appeared in Disney's The Jungle Book at the Goodman. He also played Captain for six years in the holiday musical The Christmas Schooner. Playing Toad is Mark David Kaplan, who happily returns home to Chicago after completing his second national tour as Zazu the hornbill in The Lion King. Kaplan has spent the past two decades performing locally, nationally and internationally, has twice won Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Award, and is a longtime collaborator as an actor and director with the New York-based classic Forbidden Broadway. Christine Bunuan(Mouse/Young Frog) starred as Jasmine in Aladdin at Marriott Lincolnshire, played in the national tour of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and has appeared at Goodman, Silk Road Rising, Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Shawn Pfautsch (Snail/Father Frog) is a founding member of The House Theatre of Chicago where his credits include Death and Harry Houdini and the title role in Cyrano. Brittani Arlandis Green (Turtle/Mother Frog) played Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill and Alice in A Catered Affair, both with Porchlight Music Theatre.

Some of Chicago's best designers are creating a fun, woodsy, musical world for A Year with Frog and Toad including Andra Velis Simon and Nicholas Davio (music directors), Geoffrey Curley (set), William Kirkham (lights), Ray Nardelli (sound), Rachel Healy (costumes), Tommy Rapley (choreography) and Kimberly Morris (props).JoHannah Hail is production stage manager.

More about Frog and Toad, the book series and the musical: 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 Toad 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.

STAGE TUBE: A Scene from Chicago Children's Theatre's A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD
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