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APU Theater Presents A Year with Frog and Toad

by McKenzie Feitler and April Overholt

For the first time, neighborhood families and Azusa Pacific University Theater members filled the new amphitheater at the Wynn Academic Center for the summer musical A Year with Frog and Toad. Based on Arnold Lobel's children's books, this fun, family-friendly performance followed the story of two friends: the popular, adventure-loving Frog and the insecure, grumpy Toad.

The performance took place one weekend only, from May 28–30. The setting was casual as kids and families enjoyed the Broadway musical while sitting on blankets in the grass. Some brought their own picnic dinner while others enjoyed barbecue sandwiches provided by Frisella's Roastery of Glendora.

When APU released the news that they would be building an outdoor amphitheater, the Theater Program began dreaming up ways to use the new space.

"I don't think we have ever done an outdoor event like [Frog and Toad] before in our 16-year history," said Jeff Martinez '01, producer of theater and film. "I hope we will start a tradition of doing shows in the amphitheater that will go on for years after we're gone."

The cast was made up of five APU alumni, including Martinez who starred as Toad. This is the first alumni play in several years at APU, which added another unique element to the production.

When the original musical broke ground on Broadway in 2003, it was one of the first performances to target a different age group: children ages 3 to 10. The theater staff hoped to do the same with the local Azusa community.

"We sent a flyer home with every elementary student in the Azusa and Glendora school districts, so we crossed our fingers and toes about a big draw," said Martinez.

Expectations were met and exceeded as kids and families snatched each grassy spot available in the amphitheater.

"It was good to see whole families there," said senior Computer Information Systems major Bryan Carson. "The parents enjoyed themselves as much as the kids, if not more."

Silly songs about cookies and kite-flying evoked laughter from kids and adults alike, and the deeper theme of the happiness found in true friendship stayed relevant to people of all ages.

Although A Year with Frog and Toad concluded the 2009–10 theater season, the Theater Program is excited to begin their next season with the new amphitheater available for other performances.

For information on future performances, visit the APU Theater website.