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Bring the family, join the fun for MTSU’s ‘Year with Frog and Toad’

MTSU Arts is bringing a beloved children’s series of books about friendship to life — and to Tennessee — on the Tucker Theatre stage with an hourlong musical production of “A Year with Frog and Toad.”

MTSU senior Sherman Sutton, as Frog, teases a sleepy Toad, played by freshman Paul Gary, in the MTSU Arts production of “A Year with Frog and Toad.” The family-friendly musical is set Nov. 6-10 in Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Performances are scheduled Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 6-9, at 7:30 each evening, and a matinee is planned at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. You can buy tickets online at www.mtsuarts.com or at the Tucker Theatre box office.

General admission tickets for “A Year with Frog and Toad” are $10 for adults and $5 for children in kindergarten through 12th grades. MTSU students, faculty and staff with valid IDs will be admitted free.

“A Year with Frog and Toad” also will be presented in special matinee performances for area schools at 9 a.m. and noon Friday, Nov. 8, and again Nov. 25 and 26 at 9 a.m. and noon.

An educational packet for teachers, students and parents is available online at http://k01088.wix.com/aywftedpack.

The “Frog and Toad” books, which detail the adventures of a couple of friendly amphibians and their companions, were written and illustrated by the late Arnold Lobel especially for younger readers.

Brothers Robert and Willie Reale turned the tales into a Tony-nominated musical, bringing professional children’s theatre to Broadway in 2003.

The MTSU Arts production, directed by MTSU speech and theatre professor Jette Halladay with assistance from junior Michelle Benson and senior Chelsea Fleet, is taking the performance into the woods and wilds of Tennessee, too.

“It’s definitely a family-friendly production,” said Halladay with a laugh as preparations for opening night bustled nearby. “We’re also basing it in Tennessee, so our sets reflect the Tennessee wildlife and woodlands. This is a Tennessee ‘Frog and Toad.’ It can even be incorporated into a class science curriculum.”

Halladay, an MTSU Foundation Award-winning professor who founded VOICES Arts Institute for Youth, MTSU ArtSeason for Children and the MTSU International Children’s Theatre Touring Company, specializes in children’s theatre and has taken productions — and MTSU students — all over the world to share stories and help educate youngsters.

MTSU sophomore Kelsey Blackwell plots some fun as she portrays Mouse in the MTSU Arts production of “A Year with Frog and Toad” in Tucker Theatre.

“We decided last year to do this show, and our costume and scenic designers started getting ideas when they first heard about it,” the professor explained. “The rest of us really started the hands-on work when school started.”

The cast includes Sherman Sutton as Frog, Paul Gary as Toad and Cody Rutledge as Snail. They’re joined by Kelsey Blackwell as Mouse, Abbey Kairdolf, Morgan Michelle Farmer and Hailey Brown as Birds, Pauline Jai and Lauren Holley as Squirrels, and Courtney Nicole Coppa and Jasmine Reed as Lizards.

Micah Snow, who received his master’s degree in music from MTSU just last spring, is the production’s music director. Junior theatre major Caleb Marshall is the “Frog and Toad” choreographer. Senior Maranda Wirt is stage manager for this production, assisted by junior Chelsea Bell.

“It’s an hour of delightful music and humor,” Halladay said. “It’s geared toward children and adults, so there’s plenty for both children and their parents. It’s visually stimulating as well as just a delightful musical.

“We really look forward to having everyone enjoy ‘Frog and Toad’ with us.”

For more information about the show, visit www.mtsuarts.com and click on any of the “A Year with Frog and Toad” listings. You also can call 615-494-8810.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Click on the poster for ticket information.

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