Aurally Sound

What You Hear's OK, but What Are You Seeing?

It would be unfair for an adult to rate A Year With Frog and Toad, a children's musical that, to my relief, feels neither as long nor as ponderously earnest as its title.

My inner child, the only one I was able to bring to the performance, felt moderately entertained; my outer adult found some aspects amusing and others a little puzzling. He didn't understand, for instance, why the characters sometimes behaved like animals and did animal things, while at other times they behaved like adults and did middle-class suburban things. (My inner child, at this point, muttered something about consistency and hobgoblins that I didn't quite catch—probably a quote from some fairy tale or self-help book he was reading.)

Mark Linn-Baker and Jay Goede as Toad and Frog: kite of passage
photo: Joan Marcus
Mark Linn-Baker and Jay Goede as Toad and Frog: kite of passage


By Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston
Eugene O'Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street

A Year With Frog and Toad
By Willie and Robert Reale
Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street

My outer adult wondered a little, too, why the title characters seemed to have no spouses or offspring, unlike their parents, or the neighboring birds who served as commentators. (Here my inner child definitely said something about fairy tales, referring specifically to Oscar Wilde's.) My outer adult and I couldn't figure out why a toad would have problems about staying in the water, or why there was no mention of frogs becoming increasingly scarce on the planet. (We explained to my inner child that it's not because they don't marry.) Then there was a whole problem about whether amphibians would celebrate Christmas, and my inner child settled the whole thing when he looked at us derisively and said, "They have to have a Christmas number or it's not commercial." We bowed to this expression of childhood wisdom, and decided that instead of trying to analyze the show any further we would just make a list of everything we liked about it.

So we listed the performances of Jay Goede and Mark Linn-Baker as Frog and Toad; the sets by Adrianne Lobel (even though, as my inner child said, she probably got the job by being related to one of the producers, who has the exact same name); the costumes by Martin Pakledinaz (who doesn't have the same name as anybody); some of Robert Reale's tunes; all of Irwin Fisch's razzamatazzy Dixieland orchestrations, boisterously conducted by Linda Twine; and the glitter stars that exploded all over everything at one point, for no reason I can remember. My inner child wanted to vote for the song of the snail who brings the mail, but my outer adult and I said it came back once too often. We asked my inner child if there was anything he didn't like about the show, and he said, "Are they really charging 90 bucks a pop for seats downstairs?" We said they were, and he said capitalism was a filthy crime (he's also been reading Karl Marx's collected fairy tales lately). So we explained that little boys who talk too much often get eaten by vicious characters from Sondheim musicals, and the evening drew peacefully to a close.

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