Leap into the New Year with the family musical “A Year With Frog and Toad”

(Orem, Utah) — Director Jerry Elison is positively giddy when he describes the upcoming January production of “A Year With Frog and Toad” at the SCERA Center for the Arts.

“I have directed more than 30 shows at SCERA and I have been involved in theater for more than six decades, and believe me, this is one of my all-time favorite pieces,” he explains. “It is a bright and upbeat show with lots of humor and loads of charm. I get excited just thinking about it.”

Shawn Mortensen, who plays Frog, is reprising the role he performed several years ago in a shorter, Theatre for Young Audiences version several years ago, which was also directed by Elison.   “That show was so popular” says SCERA President and CEO Adam J. Robertson. “We’ve had so many requests from patrons to bring back the full stage version, and it will be the perfectly happy piece to kick off the New Year,” he adds.  

Mortensen shares Elison’s opinion that this is a wonderful, fun show, and captures the story of the enduring friendship in the beloved children’s books by Arnold Lobel.  Mortensen has starred in many popular SCERA productions including the lead in “The Cat in the Hat” and “Willy Wonka,” but says, “This is my favorite, favorite, favorite acting experience.”  Eric Smith plays Toad, and he was last seen showing off his comedic talents as Scuttle in “The Little Mermaid” this past summer at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre.

The musical will open January 6 and continue Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 21. Reserved-seat tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performances are $12 for adults and $10 for children (ages 3-11) and seniors (ages 65 and older). Non-profit and church groups of 20 or more may purchase tickets in advance for $6.  Tickets are available at www.scera.org, by calling 801-225-ARTS, in person at the main office at SCERA Center, open 10am-6pm weekdays and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm, or at the box office 30 minutes prior to performance.

The show, inspired by Arnold Lobel’s well-loved books, was a hit on Broadway and snagged three Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.  Its title characters include a cheerful Frog and a grumpy Toad as well as a “snail who brings the mail.” Frog and Toad share many adventures through spring, summer, winter, and and fall – learning that despite their differences they have a friendship that lasts through all seasons of life.  

“Eric Smith and Shawn Mortensen are delightful and funny as they do such simple activities such as kite flying, cookie baking, sleigh rides, snowman assembly or playing in autumn leaves,” Elison says.  “Andrew Walsh, our snail, cracks up everybody. We have six other players who do multiple parts as other animals and especially contribute to the harmonies of the music. Everything about the show is upbeat, including the hilarious turtle who takes the entire show to deliver a piece of mail. Add a bubbly score and you have all the tools for an enchanting evening.”

Assisting Elison are Dana Cardon as music director; Kristen Bradley as choreographer, Nat Reed as set designer, Chase Elison as lighting designer, and Danielle Berry as costume designer.

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