Two very different amphibians share adventures in "A Year with Frog and Toad," playing Sunday only at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
Geared for children in kindergarten through sixth grade, the touring musical production is based on the popular 1970s children's books by the late Arnold Lobel. Confident, happy Frog (Jon Sadrom) and grumpy Toad (Will Cohen) wake from hibernation in the spring and proceed to plant gardens, swim, rake leaves, sled and learn life lessons.
Featuring a jazzy score, the 70-minute vaudeville-style show was nominated for three Tony Awards — best musical, best original score and best book of a musical — after it debuted on Broadway in 2003.
"It's so well written, it's enjoyable for any age — even the adults," Sadrom said in a phone interview earlier this week as he left a tour stop in Chandler, Ariz.
This will be Sadrom's second performance at the Gallo Center. He played Flat Stanley's father in the musical "Flat Stanley" last year.
Presented by Work Light Productions, "Frog and Toad" features a cast of five that performs to recorded accompaniment in front of whimsical sets. The backdrops are designed to look like the book illustrations by Adrianne Lobel, the author's daughter.
Instead of dressing in animal suits, the performers wear regular clothes that suggest animal traits in the details. For example, Frog's suit is smooth, while Toad's is textured.
Sadrom, 25, said he was delighted to appear in the musical because he knows the stories well.
"I read them when I was younger," he said. "My mom's a first-grade teacher. She uses them in her classrooms as well."
As Frog, Sadrom is the leader of the pair. His character has it together, while Toad is learning how to do things.
"Toad's a little more naive than Frog," said his co-star Cohen. "A lot of the stories are helping teach Toad a lesson."
Cohen said it's a challenge to play Toad because he has so much dialogue and has a lot to do.
"It's lot of running and jumping around," he said. "We're out of breath the whole show."
Cohen emphasized the importance of children's theater being well-written and well-produced, like "Frog and Toad."
"This was the reason we all are in theater, because we went to see these shows when we were little," he said.