The Department of Theatre Arts at Utah State University will open its performance of “A Year with Frog and Toad” on Dec. 7 at the Caine Lyric Theatre. The musical will be performed on a fully revolving stage affixed to an electric motor to reflect scene changes.
“In this way we are able to change the look of the stage and therefore the setting of scenes by turning the revolve,” said Bryan Humphrey, the director of the musical. “The revolve is about 23 feet in diameter and takes up the entire Lyric stage.”
Kurt Haaker, who plays the role of Toad and works the scene shop for the musical, said due to the nature of the mechanical set design the cast was unable to use the rotating stage for every rehearsal. He said the cast had to mimic the rotation of the stage themselves with the assistance of taped floor markers in a black box theatre.
“That was a little difficult but it wasn’t too bad,” Haaker said. “It’s a beautiful set design.”
The musical is based on the Frog and Toad children’s book series written by Arnold Lobel in the 1970s. While the decision to perform the musical was not made by Humphrey, he said he and his wife read Lobel’s books to their sons when they were young.
“We read to our sons all the time,” Humphrey said. “The Frog and Toad books were some of their favorites.”
According to Humphrey, the play focuses on the peaks and valleys of Frog and Toad’s relationship over the course of four seasons — beginning in the spring and ending in hibernation for the winter. Humphrey said the audience can watch the friendship of the characters blossom through the difficult, and sometimes embarrassing, situations Frog and Toad endure together.
“This vulnerability and testing of a relationship, and the discovery of the fundamental strength of friendship in itself, is what we see through the action of the play,” Humphrey said.