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Frog and Toad visit Palace Theatre

LUVERNE -- A comedy for children that will have adults laughing in their seats is how Carol Ceynowa might sum up the latest Green Earth Players production to take the stage Friday night at the Palace Theatre in Luverne.

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Cast members Anissa Hanson-Vis as “Lizard” (from left), Shawn Kinsinger as “Toad,” Terri Ebert as “Turtle” and DJ Luethje as “Mouse” rehearse Wednesday at the Palace Theater in Luverne. Tim Middagh/Daily Globe

LUVERNE - A comedy for children that will have adults laughing in their seats is how Carol Ceynowa might sum up the latest Green Earth Players production to take the stage Friday night at the Palace Theatre in Luverne.

“A Year With Frog and Toad” is filled with lively music, colorful costumes, a bouquet of springtime stage props and a seasoned cast. The story is based on a collection of best-selling children’s books written by Arnold Lobel, and begins in the early spring, at the tail end of a long hibernation for title characters, Frog (portrayed by Casey McKenzie) and Toad (portrayed by Shawn Kinsinger).
In their dreams, Frog and Toad reflect on their friendship and the new year ahead. When they finally awaken, they begin a year of fun and adventure, meeting other woodland creatures along the way, from moles and birds to bees, a snail, a mouse and a few pesky squirrels.
The show originated at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis in 2002 and had a successful run both off and on Broadway. It was nominated for Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical in 2003.
Ceynowa said she’s wanted to bring the production to the Palace Theatre stage for a long time, keeping it on her wish list of musicals to direct. It is her eighth time directing a production for the Green Earth Players, and her 24th play to direct in a span of two decades. It’s also her last, said the 61-year-old ceramic artist in residence at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The music is outstanding, the costuming allowed me to use my creative process and I have grandchildren and I really wanted to have a gift for them before I left the theater,” Ceynowa said of her decision to bring “A Year With Frog and Toad” to Luverne’s historic theater stage.
It’s the first time Ceynowa has directed a production geared toward children, though there are no children in the cast. The cast includes 14 actors and actresses, many of whom play dual roles in the production.
Ceynowa designed all of the costumes for the characters, as well as the set and props.
“The challenge of the costumes, set and choreography - and making a kite fly in the theatre - have all been quite enjoyable,” she noted. “I have an incredible cast; they have spent countless hours singing and dancing. Everyone has made my job a pure joy.”
“A Year With Frog and Toad” will be presented this Friday through Sunday, and again March 18-20 on the Palace Theatre stage in Luverne. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets are available for purchase at the Luverne Area Community Foundation Office, next door to the Palace Theatre, between noon and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling (507) 283-4339.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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