Guild’s summer show to entertain whole family

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Two of the most popular figures in children’s literature, Mr. Frog and Mr. Toad, will come to life with all of their woodland friends when the Punxsutawney Theatre Arts Guild presents “A Year with Frog and Toad.”  

The Tony-nominated musical will be staged at the Punxustawney Area Middle School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. June 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30. A special family matinee has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, June 24.
The adaptation of stories by Arnold Lobel features music by Robert Reale and book and lyrics by Willie Reale. The local production is made possible through special arrangements with Music Theatre International of New York City. 

Filled with whimsical humor and jazzy little songs, the show remains true to the spirit of the original stories as it follows two great friends, the cheerful and popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad, through four fun-filled seasons.

Waking from hibernation in the spring, they proceed to plant gardens, swim, rake leaves and go sledding, learning life lessons along the way, including a most important one about friendship and rejoicing in the attributes that make each of us different and special. 

Adding to the mix of merriment is an assortment of other comical creatures, including birds, a mouse, four moles, a lizard, a snail, a turtle and a squirrel.

Veteran director-performers, Jef and Kathy Dinsmore, are directing the show, handling the staging and music.  

Commenting on the production, Jef said, “When we selected the Guild’s summer show, we wanted to stage a production that touches the imagination and the heart. ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ is a great way for families to share the fun and the excitement of live theatrical performances. The cast is eager to see the reaction of the audience when these well-known characters hop from the printed page to the stage. PTAG is pleased and proud to bring this high quality show to area audiences.”

The cast of the show includes Doug Fye and Dustin Jewell as Mr. Frog and Mr. Toad. Jef Dinsmore will portray Man Bird and Father Frog.

Cast as Lady Bird 1 and Lady Bird 2 are Kathy S. Dinsmore and Debra Dinsmore.  

Other performers who are bringing an assortment of woodland creatures to life are Ilona Ball (Mouse and Mole); Jessica Schidlmeier (Snail); Laura Chelgren (Turtle, Mother Frog and Mole); newcomer Jennifer Soliday (Lizard, Squirrel and Mole); and Sierra Dinger (Squirrel, Young Frog and Mole).   

Karen Rummel is the rehearsal pianist and accompanist, and Brenda Cooper will direct the 11-piece pit orchestra. Matthew Dinsmore is the technical coordinator, and Elissa Hill is the production assistant.

When it opened on Broadway in 2003, “A Year with Frog and Toad” broke new ground for bringing professional children’s theater to “the Great White Way.” Praised by critics and popular with family audiences, the show garnered three Tony nominations including those for best musical, best book of a musical and best original score.  

In addition to the Punxsutawney shows, the musical will also be staged at the Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest July 4 to 7 at 8 p.m.

For ticket information about the Sawmill, call 814- 927-5275.