A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD to Play Chicago Children's Theatre Beginning in April

The production will run April 13 - May 26.

By: Feb. 11, 2024
A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD to Play Chicago Children's Theatre Beginning in April

Chicago Children's Theatre's 2023-24 season finale will be a celebration of the same joyful energy that launched the company nearly 20 years ago, A Year with Frog and Toad.
Children's author and illustrator Arnold Lobel's beloved amphibians hop from the page to the stage in this ever-popular, Tony-nominated, all-out-fun family musical. Join two best friends – the cheerful, popular Frog, and their grumpy friend, Toad – through four seasons of fun and adventure, set to favorite musical numbers like “Cookies,” “Getta Loada Toad,” and “I'm Coming Out of My Shell.”

The fun begins when Frog and Toad wake up from hibernation. They enjoy a summer swim, rake fall leaves and survive a winter sled adventure. Along the way, the two best friends learn important life lessons and come to celebrate how their differences actually make them unique and special. Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, families will love this musical romp about a friendship that weathers all seasons. 

A Year with Frog and Toad is recommended for all ages - toddlers, children, and teens. Public performances are April 13-May 26: Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave., in Chicago's West Loop. Press opening weekend is Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. For tickets and information, visit the button below or call (312) 374-8835.

Tickets are $45.25-$55.25, including fees. Lap seat tickets for children 18 months and under are $12.25 per show. Lap seat tickets should be reserved in advance via phone or purchased at the box office day-of-show. This production runs 70 minutes.

Chicago Children's Theatre is a “no shushing” theater. It is centrally located in the former 12th District Chicago Police Station, now home to the city's largest professional theater devoted to children and young families. It's minutes from I-90 and I-290, as well as downtown and Ashland Avenue. Free, onsite parking is available on the south side of the theater. Free street parking can be found nearby on weekends, or try the Impark parking lot, 1301 W. Madison St.

Eduardo Curley-Carrillo plays Frog and Nick Druzbanski is Toad, with Diego Vazquez Gomez, Laura Murillo Hart and Leslie Ann Sheppard playing assorted animal characters in Chicago Children's Theatre's new production of the Tony-nominated musical, A Year with Frog and Toad.

Eduardo Curley-Carrillo leaps into his Chicago Children's Theatre debut as Frog, following appearances in The Leopard Play, or sad songs for lost boys (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Ensemble, Steep Theatre), A Doll's House (Writer's Theatre) and The Man Who Was Thursday (Lifeline Theatre).

Nick Druzbanski also jumps into his CCT debut as Toad after memorable turns at Paramount Theatre as Dewey Finn in School of Rock and LeFou in Beauty and the Beast.
CCT's cast also features Diego Vazquez Gomez as Bird, Snail, Lizard, Father Frog and Mole; Laura Murillo Hart as Lady Bird 2, Turtle, Squirrel, Mother Frog and Mole, and Leslie Ann Sheppard as Lady Bird 1, Mouse, Squirrel, Young Frog and Mole. Understudies are Philip Macaluso, Evan Morales and Hannah Mary Simpson.

A Year with Frog and Toad is directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios, Artistic Director of Chicago Playworks at The Theatre School at DePaul, returning after her acclaimed CCT debut production in 2022, Carmela Full of Wishes.

The production team includes Micah Figueroa (choreographer and associate director), Courtney O'Neill (set), Rachel Healy (costumes), Christie Chilles Twillie (musical direction and sound), Jared Gooding (lights), Lonnae Hickman (props), Shannon Golden-Starr (stage manager), Anastar Alvarez and CG Walkanoff (assistant stage managers).

Frog and Toad: The books, the musical and past stagings at Chicago Children's Theatre

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, humorous, often poignant short stories about their adventures together. “Frog and Toad are Friends” (1970) won 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.

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

A Year with Frog and Toad was Chicago Children's Theatre's splashy debut production, launching Chicago's first professional theater devoted to young audiences in 2006 with a memorable production at The Goodman Theatre. CCT revived Frog and Toad for a new generation of kids in 2014, and again in 2017 as one of the first productions at CCT's new, permanent home in Chicago's West Loop.

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine St. in Chicago's West Loop, is Chicago's destination for the best plays, musicals, classes and performing arts camps for young audiences.

The company was founded in 2005 with a big idea: Chicago is the greatest theater city in the world, and it deserves a great children's theater. Today, Chicago Children's Theatre is the city's largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families.

In 2017, following 11 years of itinerancy, Chicago Children's Theatre celebrated the opening of its forever home in Chicago's West Loop community. The building, formerly the 12th District Chicago Police Station, was repurposed into a LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility. For children, parents, caregivers and teachers, CCT is a convenient, welcoming community hub, centrally located in the city, with free, onsite parking.

Chicago Children's Theatre has established a national reputation for the production of first-rate children's theater with professional writing, performing, and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. In 2019, the company won the National TYA Artistic Innovation Award from Theatre for Young Audiences/USA. Chicago Children's Theatre has also garnered six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017, was the first theater for young audiences to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.

In tandem with its live productions, Chicago Children's Theatre offers a full slate of Access services for patrons with disabilities, including ASL interpretation, open captioning, touch tours and sensory friendly performances. CCT also provides thousands of free and reduced-price tickets to under-resourced schools each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools.

In addition to live shows, Chicago Children's Theatre offers a full roster of performing arts education programs year round for ages 0 to 14. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/family-programs for information on classes, workshops, winter, spring break and “school's out” camps, and summer camps. Due to popular demand, in addition to its home in the West Loop, CCT camps and classes have expanded to new locations including Menomonee Club Drucker Center in Lincoln Park.

Chicago Children's Theatre also provides live theater experiences, classes and camps for children with autism and other special needs via its Red Kite Project, celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2023.

Chicago Children's Theatre is supported by Goldman Sachs, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity and the Arts, Bayless Family Foundation, Rivers Casino/Rivers Gives, The Crown Family, Rea Charitable Trust, ComEd, US Bank, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The Susan M. Venturi Fund in memory of James and Roslyn Marks to Support Theatre Education Access, and Erin and Jason, Ben, Bici and David Pritzker.
Chicago Children's Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Armando Chacon. 

About Arnold Lobel

Arnold Lobel, the author and illustrator of the beloved picture book series “Frog and Toad,” was born in Los Angeles in 1933. As a child, he moved to and was raised in Schenectady, New York. When his parents divorced, he was sent to live with his grandparents. Lobel described himself as a sad, sickly boy who was bullied at school and kept himself occupied with drawings, mostly of animals. In fact, he used his drawings and wild storytelling abilities to befriend other children. It is believed that the “Frog and Toad” series was based on these early childhood experiences.

After graduating high school, Lobel pursued a degree in fine arts at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he met his wife, Anita, a talented illustrator. They married and settled in Brooklyn in an apartment across the street from the Park Zoo, where they worked side by side on their own projects and collaborations. They had two children and would go to the Park Zoo often. The animals there provided the inspiration for Lobel's first book, “A Zoo for Mister Muster” (1962).

Known to be a daydreamer instead of an author or an artist, Lobel would imagine the pictures in his head before he could think of the words that would go with them. He got his first real break in 1971, when his book “Frog and Toad” earned the Caldecott Honor. In 1981, he won the Caldecott Medal for “Fables.” Lobel would go on to illustrate or write nearly 100 books.

Frog and Toad are sometimes speculated as queer characters, perhaps symbolizing Lobel's own life as a closeted gay man. He came out in his mid-forties in the 1970s, later moving out of the family home to reside in Greenwich Village. He died in 1987 at the age of 54 years old. 

About Michelle Lopez Rios

Michelle Lopez-Rios (director) is a teatrista, teacher and activist. She is an Associate Professor and Artistic Director of Chicago Playworks at The Theatre School at DePaul (TTS). Together with Alvaro Saar Rios, she co-founded the Royal Mexican Players in 2004 and the two have continued to collaborate on workshops and productions since then. Directing credits include Carmela Full of Wishes (Chicago Children’s Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, First Stage), Squirrel Girl Goes to College, Luchadora! and Jane of the Jungle (Chicago Playworks TTS); The Mole Hill Stories (First Stage); Bocón! (University of Houston); Chapatti (Milwaukee Chamber Theatre); Enfrascada (Renaissance Theaterworks), and A Trip Through the Mind of a Crazy Mexican (Royal Mexican Players).