The first time my wife and I ventured into the swamp with Arnold Lobel’s Frog & Toad we had my niece with us. She was 6 years old, wide-eyed, and entranced by Ben Dibble’s Toad and Jeff Coon’s Frog.
That niece of mine is wrapping up her first semester at university.
No, YOU feel super old right now.
The next time was slightly more recent, seven years ago, and on that occasion (which I reviewed here) we had with us our own two children who were still growing up reading about Toad making cookies and Frog pulling off months of the calendar to speed up Spring’s arrival, and we watched in awe as Coon’s Frog did the same and Dibble’s Toad worried about not knowing when his chocolate chip cookies would be done baking since his clock was broken (we know, Toad, we know). It was at the time the greatest piece of family musical theater we’d ever seen.
The pair of Philadelphia actors, two of our city’s finest, good friends also IRL off of the Arden’s wooden plank stage, are, right now, reviving their now legendary-in-small-circles roles during another triumphant theater season at the Arden, this after picking up numerous Barrymore Awards for last season’s genius production of “The Secret Garden” and the hilarious “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales”, and this new, old A Year With Frog and Toad is perfection in triplicate.
We saw a recent performance and all four of us, older now, with much more going on in our busy lives at home some 30 miles away, were right back to singing the songs, laughing at the jokes, and, maybe a little more now, getting choked up at the obvious love and friendship these two characters, and actors, share.
Live theater is always an enthralling experience, but this season’s A Year With Frog And Toad at The Arden is even more so, because this musical is clearly being staged and performed with so much care, appreciation and adoration of the script, the music and the people involved on stage and off, and in the audience.
Be sure to catch the perfection that is The Arden Theatre Company’s 2016-2017 production of A Year With Frog & Toad because, as much as it pains me to say it, this may be the final time it finds its way to the stage with Jeffrey Coon and Ben Dibble in the lead roles. I mean, at SOME point these two greats will not want to keep reprising their fantastic characters. Do not sleep on the chance to see two of Philadelphia’s finest perform one of the most darling, witty, and sweet musicals you will ever see on stage.
A Year With Frog and Toad is on stage through January 29, 2017 at The Arden Theatre on 2nd Street in Philadelphia, PA. Get your tickets here, they’ll make a great holiday gift for a young person in your life.