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Local songbirds light up the Center for the Arts

The new Thingamajig Theatre production, “A Year with Frog and Toad,” opened at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts last Friday evening.

The play will run three more weeks, Aug. 11-28,  with performances Thursday and Friday nights. Doors open and music begins at 6 p.m., the play promptly starts at 7. There are matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays, doors open at 1 p.m.; the play starts promptly at 2. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids, but group rates drop the ticket prices down to $18 for adults and $8 for kids.  Group rates are available for churches, clubs and families or friends who plan to come together in groups of 10 or more.

“A Year with Frog and Toad” is a musical production based on the timeless and magical works of Arnold Lobel, who created these wonderful characters in his books to enthrall generations of children, regardless of age. The characters in this stage production, the cohabiters of the marshy home of Frog and Toad, are birds and squirrels, lizards and moles — critters that share our earth.  The play opens with three songbirds singing about the coming of spring. 

As I sat in the darkened theatre and watched the opening performance of “Frog and Toad,“ it was just about a minute and a half into this opening number of the show, that these three beautiful songbirds, played by local Pagosa Springs talent, blew me away with their sweet melodic harmonies. I knew right then and there that I was in for a something special. 

These songbirds and other forest animals, in amazingly designed costumes by the talented Brian Malgrave on loan from the Arvada Center, are played by Anna Hershey, Ami Harbison and Brooke Hampton. All three girls have been students at Pagosa High School. Hampton is a senior, Harbison is home for the summer between college classes, and Hershey recently graduated from Northern Arizona University.  In addition to songbirds, they also play snow moles, squirrels, a turtle, a lizard, and the snail who delivers the mail, played to a glorious gooey T by Harbison.  I think, just hearing these Pagosa Song Birds sing together is plenty of reason for anyone, of any age, to come out and see this play.

“A Year with Frog and Toad,” at its core, is a play about friendship, that vital social glue that holds society together, something so simple, yet so important. Is this play’s message only for children? I think not. Watching the adventures of Frog and Toad only a few feet away on Thingamajig’s thrust stage, up close and personal, is a delightful way of refreshing and reawakening that child that resides inside us all.

Toad is played superbly, down to his very last wart, by Tim Moore, artistic director of The Thingamajig Theatre Company. Frog is played with a hopping joyful exuberance by Robin Hebert.  Both starred in Thingamajig’s last production of “Sylvia.” They are a terrific pair, just as you should expect from two actors who have a strong friendship in real life.

After last Saturday’s performance of Frog and Toad, Richard Wyatt, visiting from the Washington DC area, sent in photos of his grandchildren with the cast of Frog and Toad after the performance, as well as the following statement:  “We had 13 extended family members ranging in age from 3 to 69. All enjoyed the production immensely, and it captured everyone’s full attention (Wyatt, Carson and Snitgen families from Maryland, Texas and Michigan). Kudos to the actors and staff! I told the concierge at Wyndham to send folks to you! Seeing ‘Frog and Toad’ was the highpoint of our stay in Pagosa Springs!”

“Sylvia,” the last play at the Center which just finished its run in late July was sold-out and held over, and once the word gets out about “A Year with Frog and Toad,” my guess is Frog and Toad will meet the very same result. This play is too good, too darned entertaining not to go see.  And, while you are there, you get your first chance to hear for yourself Pagosa’s own Song Birds — so sweet, so harmonious. So, do it. See it. Hear it. To make your reservation, call 731-SHOW (7469) or visit www.pagosacenter.org. 

The Center for the Arts is located at 2313 Eagle Drive, the frontage road nest to U.S. 160, at the top of Put Hill. It is also boasting the new art show, “Whimsical,” which features charming ceramics by Tanya Hester, new works by Karina Silver and some free art by local Tyler Carpenter who wishes that all art was free and makes his pieces for anyone to come and take if they find themselves taken by his pieces. And of course, you can always come to enjoy the live music that frequents the art gallery.

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