“Princess & Frog”: TCT’s Royal Treat
Review by Sherri Ogden Wellington
Take your special someone (especially if they are between Kindergarten and 8th grade) out for a special treat to see Princess & Frog now playing at the Taft Theatre. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati never fails to delight. Roderick Justice, the Artistic Director, welcomes you with the promise of many more exciting productions to come.
Meet “Princess & Frog”
The opening scene has Croaker, played by Christian Arias, sharing his story being a frog due to a spell placed upon him. Naturally, he is a prince. I mean, what frog isn’t a prince in a play? The audience is then swept off into the castle where the preparations are being made for the Princess’ birthday. Princess Acrimonia is her name. Yes, Princess Acrimonia. Boy, does her name suit her! The staff and the guests at the party sing and dance to how acrimonious she is!
Princess Acrimonia, played by Ranease Brown, is obviously spoiled due to her sharing that she doesn’t like any of her presents. She receives a golden ball from her father which her retort was that she was hoping for a new I-phone or the keys to the Royal Convertible. She throws the ball out the window and subsequently banished to the garden to retrieve that golden ball. This is where the audience discovers Princess Acrimonia is insecure and doesn’t understand why she is so shallow and mean.
Princess Acrimonia is still Princess Acrimonia and throws the golden ball down a well. The ball hits the frog/prince on the head and he pops up. She needs the ball back to appease her father so promises Croaker to have him over for dinner and to kiss him on the nose (to break the spell, of course!). He gives her the ball and… you guessed it, she reneges on the promise. Frogs come out and sign and line dance about it (which my 6-year-old date truly enjoyed).
We are then at a dinner at the castle. We really get to know the King (Arnold) played by Greg Nelson and the Queen (Helene) played by Spring Starr Pillow. The Queen is mean to the lovable Royal Page, played by Josh Galloway. This can’t happen because he is so cute and funny! How dare you Queen! We also find that the Queen wants to kill our sweet Croaker because she wants her daughter to marry so that she will take over the throne so that the King’s son, who has disappeared a long time ago won’t be able to get it should he come back… Dah, dah, daaaaaahhhhhhhhh……
So to make a long story short (or we are past that?) Dark scenes occur to show the Queen as evil. Light scenes occur to make the King a super sweet, loving, and fun guy. The best scenes, naturally, occur when the frogs, played by Henry Howland, Gabriel Kanai Nakata, and Kavan Vadively, sing, dance, and flirt with the Princess’ girlfriends, played by Arianna Catalano, Ashley Morton, and Madeline Stern. Then in the end, Princess Acrimonia kisses Croaker’s nose during a dance. You know the rest. Maybe you don’t since this is Princess & Frog and not THE Princess and THE Frog.
They DO live happily ever after.
The moral of the story, yes, every fairytale has a moral. You need to find yourself and through friendship and keeping a moral compass you will find your way.
The Production Team
So you want to know more details? Some of the costumes were so creative and fun and others were just very true to the time period of fairy tales. A major shout out to Melanie Watnick, Costume Design, and Candance Leyland, Wig master. The music (Jason Alexander Homes, Music Director & Bill Fuss, Sound Production) was fabulous and the dance scenes were amazing (Maddie Burgoon Jones, Directed & Choreographed). Benjamin Gantose, Lighting Design, made the transitions between scenes flawless. The Ensemble made scenes much more exciting. It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, that the experience and professionalism of Greg Nelson and Spring Starr Pillow provide the richness to this production. Ranease Brown’s voice and presence is relaxed and seems natural for the stage. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing her more. Christian Arias, with more experience, is already a professional.
A thought to leave you with, by King Arnold: “Being a true Princess is to be a true friend.” Think about that for a while!
Tickets to “Princess & Frog” and More
Get tickets from TCT Box Office HERE for the remaining shows Friday, February 24 at 7 pm, Saturday February 25 at 11 am and 2 pm, and Sunday, February 26 at 2 pm. Princess & Frog lasts 60 minutes. Explore https://thechildrenstheatre.com/ for more upcoming shows, classes and educational resources.