The Academy of the Arts On Stage series at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will continue in April with the Academy Kidz production of “A Year with Frog and Toad KIDS,” which will be performed at 2 p.m. April 26 at The Blue Lion at UAFS Downtown.
The whimsical show follows two friends -- the cheerful and popular Frog and the grumpy Toad -- through the four seasons of the year. The story celebrates the friendship of the two as they face the challenges of life and come to accept each other’s differences.
Director Shannon Stoddard of Fort Smith said the children found the play relatable.
“The story is really sweet. Frog and Toad are best friends and would do anything for each other. The kids really relate to the story because they all have their own best friends who they do fun things with too,” she said. “The two best friends celebrate the differences that make them unique and special. This is the perfect story of a friendship that endures throughout the seasons.”
Stoddard added that she is excited by how fast the cast has learned the material.
“I’ve been very impressed by how quickly the kids are picking up the show,” she said. “This is our fourth production with this age group, and I’ve watched as these students become better readers, quicker at learning dances and singing the music and just better actors in general.”
Brenden Chick, a second-grader who plays Toad in the production, said he loves being part of the play.
“I really like being Toad because I get to wear a bathing suit,” he said. “I really like the song ‘He’ll Never Know.’ I could sing and dance that a million times.”
Dawson Calvillo, who plays Frog, said he sees himself in the title character he will portray.
“Frog is kind and can be a good friend, and I am kind of like that too,” he said. “That’s why I like being Frog.”
Academy Executive Director Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell of Fort Smith said plays like “Frog and Toad” allow children to “blossom.”
“We’re so pleased to be able to provide a children’s theatre company for such young children because we believe in getting children started very early in theatre,” she said. “It helps them to grow, both as artists and as people.”
The cast includes:
Alma: Dawson Calvillo, Kennedie Cox.
Barling: Vaughan Popp.
Fort Smith: Adelaide Coleman, Evan Law, Sebastian Stoltz, Jasmine Washington.
Greenwood: Brenden Chick, Ryder Mack, Lenah Wheatley.
Pocola, Okla.: Elliott Alexander.
The On Stage series includes other productions such as “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Little Mermaid JR” and “Shrek the Musical.” The On Stage series has a total of 12 events featuring young and seasoned performers in musical and theatrical productions.
The Blue Lion at UAFS Downtown, 101 N. 2nd Street, was temporarily called UAFS at Second Street after UAFS acquired the building last year. It officially became the Blue Lion in November and is a performance venue for various UAFS events.
Admission is by an On Stage series ticket or $6 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. For tickets, contact the UAFS Box Office at 479-788-7300 or visit http://uafs.universitytickets.com. For more information on the Academy, call 479-788-7253.