Ouachita to present Tony Award-nominated children¹s musical ³A Year with Frog and Toad² Sept. 19-24

Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Division of Music will present A Year with Frog and Toad at Ouachita’s Verser Theatre on Sept. 19-24. Performances on Sept. 19-21 and 23-24 will be at 7 p.m. Sunday’s matinee Sept. 22 will be at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased at Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m., online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice.com, by phone at (870) 245-5555 or one hour before show times.

The Department of Theatre Arts will also host a Youth Theatre Workshop on Sept. 21 from 1-4 p.m. for ages Pre-K (3 yrs.) – 12th grade. The cost is $30 per child and includes a free ticket to the performance of his/her choice.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a Tony Award-nominated children’s musical based on Arnold Lobel’s award-winning “Frog and Toad” children’s books. Composer Robert Reale and lyricist Willie Reale bring Lobel’s stories “Spring,” “A Swim,” “The Letter,” “Shivers,” “Cookies” and others to life with a jazzy score that is heart-warming and filled with humor.

A Year with Frog and Toad “truly epitomizes the meaning of friendship,” said Kenderick Scorza, a sophomore musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark., who plays Toad.

“Our young audience members are going to love the characters and laugh at their antics, while older patrons will connect well to the meaningfulness of the Frog and Toad friendship. All are sure to leave with a warm heart,” said Director Mary Handiboe, OBU associate professor of theatre arts.

Not only will the play grasp the audience’s attention through humor, but it also portrays “imperative life values,” said Garrett Sayers, a sophomore musical theatre major from Greenwood, Ark., who plays Frog. These life values consist of patience, trust and more.

The life values and characters’ stories are able to fascinate the audience through its upbeat score. “It is some of the catchiest music that I’ve heard,” said Handiboe. “It’s great for all ages.”

One of the highlights of the children’s musical is the opportunity for the Department of Theatre Arts to host a Youth Theatre Workshop. “One of my favorite things about being a part of the Youth Workshop,” Sayers said, “is exposing the joy of theatre to audiences of all ages. … I cannot wait to see the excitement on children’s faces.”

“This is an excellent opportunity for the kids in the community who aren’t normally involved in doing theatre,” Handiboe said. Children get to tour backstage, go on set, play theatre games and even meet some of the characters.

“My favorite thing about directing the children’s show really is just watching the joy of these kids as they experience the magic of theatre,” Handiboe said. “Many have never been to a live production and they get to come and experience a show that is done especially for them.”

In addition to Director Mary Handiboe, John Alec Briggs, adjunct instructor of music, will serve as music director. Kaylee Nebe, a junior musical theatre major from Mesquite, Texas, serves as assistant director, while sophomore Stacy Hawking, a musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., serves as dance choreographer. The stage manager is Aaron Pinion, a sophomore theatre major from Tulsa, Okla., assisted by Shonna Jasperson and Lindsey Lederer. Jasperson is a sophomore theatre major from Houston, Texas, and Lederer is a senior musical theatre major from Lewisville, Texas.

The cast of A Year with Frog and Toad includes Garrett Sayers, a sophomore musical theatre major from Greenwood, Ark., as Frog, and Kenderick Scorza of North Little Rock, Ark., also a sophomore musical theatre major, as Toad. The flapper-esque Birds are played by musical theatre majors Jordan Miller, a senior from Rockwall, Texas; Nicole Mattson, a senior from Rowlett, Texas; and Blakeley Knox, a junior from Fort Smith, Ark. Snail is played by junior musical theatre major Tyler Wisdom of Russellville, Ark., and The Large and Terrible Frog is portrayed by freshman musical theatre major Kayla Walker of North Little Rock, Ark.

Other cast members include Benjamin Stidham, a junior musical theatre major from Dallas, Texas, playing Father Frog, Lizard and a Mole; Cami Willis, a junior musical theatre major from Flower Mound, Texas, playing Mother Frog, Turtle and a Mole; Bret Sanders, a freshman musical theatre major from Jonesboro, Ark., playing Young Frog, Mouse and a Mole; and freshmen Abby Root and Taylor Ford as Squirrels and Magic Makers. Root is a theatre education major from Arkadelphia, Ark., and Ford is a pre-pharmacy major from Dayton, Texas.

Other lead production team members include Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, as scenic designer and technical director, and Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts, as the costume designer. Senior Gemma Guiomard, a musical theatre and studio art major from Desoto, Texas, is co-scenic designer, and senior Lacey Johnson, a theatre and history major from Rancho Mirage, Ark., is co-costume designer and costume crew head. Cody Myers, a senior musical theatre and psychology major from Van Buren, Ark., serves as marketing and publicity manager, and Marshall Pope, theatre shop technical director, is the scenery build technical director.

Additional lead production team members include Chad Burris, a junior musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark., as the properties crew head; MaryLacey Thomson, a senior musical theatre major from Plano, Texas, as the makeup crew head; Mattie Bogoslavsky, a sophomore musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark., as the light board operator; Jacob Sturgeon, a senior musical theatre major from Pine Bluff, Ark., as the sound engineer; and musical theatre majors Lauren Linton and Blaine Surber as house managers. Linton is a senior from Millington, Miss., and Surber is a senior from Sulphur Springs, Texas.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.obu.edu/boxoffice or contact the JPAC Box Office from 1-5 p.m. on weekdays at (870) 245-5555.