A Year With Frog and Toad, the off-Broadway turned on-Broadway musical based on the fabulous children's books by Arnold Lobel, borrows several of the short vignettes illustrated in Lobel's four books on the characters to describe a year in the life of Frog and Toad, from their springtime wake-up from hibernation all the way around to another springtime. For the most part, the musical works well, but it does flounder occasionally when it ventures away from the playful toward the overly dramatic operatic vibrato treatments from the musical leads, Jay Goede (Frog) and Mark Lin-Baker (Toad). Understanding that this dramatic style is necessary to convey an emotional message when presented on the stage makes the approach acceptable, but a bit heavy-handed when transferred to a recording where subtlety would be a much more effective route. Composers Willie and Robert Reale were inspired by vaudeville and jazz recordings from the '30s -- which Lobel's daughter, Adrianne Lobel, fondly recalled her father listening to while writing the stories -- to great effect. As a whole, A Year With Frog and Toad is an imaginative, fun, and well-paced companion to Arnold Lobel's creations, and no doubt is particularly engaging and inspiring when seen on the stage.
AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh
|A Year With Frog and Toad, musical play|