‘Frog and Toad’: What it takes to make a musical

DeLeo details aims of ‘Frog and Toad’

After two years of the pandemic, Director Bernie DeLeo said he wanted to put on a show that people of all ages would enjoy.

Through the end of April and early May, Statesmen Theatre performed “A Year with Frog and Toad,” a musical based on a children’s book series.

“Frog’s kind of fastidious, and Toad is kind of a knucklehead, and they weather the storms of friendship and challenges,” he said. “They have really sweet, warm, lovely lessons.”

With two matinees for feeder elementary schools, DeLeo said his motivation for choosing “Frog and Toad” was the children who are growing up in lockdown.

“This will probably be the first live theater they’ve ever seen,” he said. “I thought that could be really cool to introduce them to what live theater is.”

Live theater can include special effects such as autumn leaves dropping on the audience and puppet animals flying about based on cues in the songs.

“One of the things we decided to do was just a lot of stunts and special effects,” DeLeo said. “We kind of went all in with puppets.”

DeLeo decided to move the band backstage to make room for the puppet zone, which he said is more kid friendly.

“When the band is in [the front], there’s heads and there’s instruments above the floor line,” he said. “So I thought, ‘little kids are going to be frustrated if they can’t see.’”

DeLeo said the effects made the children more immersed.

“I thought that was really fun to extend the play out into [the audience],” he said, “rather than having the story so far away.”

The show is not over yet, as it is nominated for best musical of the inaugural Brandon Victor Dixon Awards and will perform at the awards ceremony on May 22.

A trip behind the scenes—from auditions to performance—with the ‘Frog and Toad’ Cast