A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD Hops Away After This Weekend

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on December 20, 2013

A Year with Frog and Toad has gone along swimmingly, except for a few snowed-out performances. Children who see it love it as much as I did in putting it together. To think that two little green amphibians are responsible for big yellow buses clogging up Franklin is amazing!

I’m sad to say that I had forgotten, or rather dis-remembered, the sheer pleasure of working with my longtime partner, Tom. More often than not, he directs a production and I act, or paint, or both. Or I direct and he pulls costumes, or arranges props, or both.

Frog and Toad is a children’s show with an upbeat message about reading, sharing, not being afraid of trying new things, compassion and, most of all, friendship. Tom plays the tunes and stages the dances with panache and style, while I block the movements, the crosses, the entrances and the exits. (One actor at a Gatsby rehearsal said, “Oh, we’re going back to where we cross a lot and yell at each other.” I’m sure, or rather hope, he meant that as a joke …)

Michael Spaziani as Frog and Josh Bernaski as Toad are, if nothing else, perfect foils for one another: Michael, so very Oscar-Wildean-The-Importance-of-Being-Earnest proper, against Josh’s Georges-Feydeau-Flea-In-Her-Ear high-strung and nervous wreck. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect pair (Jack Benny and Bert Lahr being no longer available).

Filling out the cast are Jacque Clydesdale, Michelle Foletta and RJ Magee, playing a host of endearing characters, including mischievous squirrels, chatty birds, a bossy turtle, and a mail-delivering snail.

A few more public performances of A Year with Frog and Toad remain: tonight at 6:15pm and Saturday at 2pm and 6:15pm.

I’m sad that New South Coffee Company closed. I liked Grant and felt his heart was in the right place, but a new baby became more a priority than brewing coffee. I understand: family always comes first.

The same can be said for Paige King and Hodgepodge’s closing. Putting two children through college, giving time and serving on every civic-minded board which supports Clarksville and downtown, while still keeping up a home, a shop and a family, is exhausting and can take its toll.

We just finished having two shows in repertory (not to mention two waiting on the back burner — The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which is being workshopped by a coterie of talented teens from my Saturday class, and Much Ado About Nothing, our annual spring Shakespeare production), productions with no set in common. Each wants a complete changeover. Oh, yes, there is a revolve, but that too has to be moved to a different spot for each show.

Austin Peay State University gave us a gift which is a lifesaver, saving us time, energy and money — their set for the musical Nunsense, which they recently produced. Fortunately, Nunsense takes place on the set of Grease. It’s complicated to explain, but it makes sense (pardon the pun) if you’ve seen either production.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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