recess radio program

05/15/06
A Year With Frog and Toad
    by John Cech

For many ancient calendars, springtime marked the beginning of the new year, and so it does for those hibernating animals, like frogs and toads -- both the ones found in nature and the ones that appear on the Broadway stage. The theme of new starts is the basic premise for A Year With Frog and Toad, a musical that is based on those tried and true children's books by Arnold Lobel that were written in the 1970s and that have been returning for successive generations of children ever since. Just like the chorus of birds with suitcases and puns, coming back up north from their winter down south, with plenty to sing about.

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But contrary to the self-involved chirping of the bird chorus, the Frog and Toad stories are all about friendship, and about not just respecting, but accepting with great affection, the differences of others. Here's Frog, played by Jay Goede, singing about his pal:

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It's friendship for these two, warts and all. Usually, it's Toad who is the brunt of jokes -- he doesn't look good in his bathing suit, for instance. But later it's Toad who tries to cheer Frog up when he thinks he's sad, and it's Toad who anonymously rakes Frog's yard when the leaves begin to fall, and it's Toad who finally gets their kite into the air. These are sweet, sweet stories, about simple things -- planting a garden, going sledding, have a cup of hot chocolate and celebrating a holiday together. This musical last ran a few years ago in New York. Let's hope that, like the birds with their valises, it will keep returning.

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Copyright 2006 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."