“A Year With Frog and Toad” Musical in Ilfeld

Brianna Lanford and TJ Harris

Brianna Lanford and TJ Harris perform the roles of Frog and Toad in the HU Singers/Performing Arts Club musical production in Ilfeld. 

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University HU Singers and Performing Arts Club present a children’s musical,  “A Year With Frog and Toad,” March 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and April 1 at 3 p.m. in the university’s historic Ilfeld Auditorium, 900 University Ave.

The musical is based on the beloved children’s Frog and Toad books written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. Two brothers, Robert and Willie Reale, wrote the musical, which became a Broadway hit.  

The story follows the lives of best friends Frog and Toad during a year of woodland adventures with companions like birds, squirrels, mice, turtles and snails. In all, 22 singing students-as-critters in full costume make up the cast.

The production features a variety of musical styles, ranging from ragtime and jazz to ballads and country.

“This musical production is a fun show geared towards kids but adults will enjoy it too,” said TJ Harris, a baritone vocal performance major who sings the role of Toad. “If you don’t leave humming, we didn’t do our job.

“There’s also an important message in the musical that everyone can learn to get along and be friends — no matter what your race, gender or color,” said Harris, a 22-year-old junior from Los Angeles who also choreographed the musical.

Mezzo soprano Brianna Lanford, 19, sings the role of Frog. The freshman from Thornton, Colo. is majoring in Spanish, with minors in music and education.

“There’s a little bit of everything in this production: music, comedy, action, drama and suspense,” Lanford said. “Musical theater can evoke feelings of pure happiness and be uplifting. That’s what I like so much.

“In this musical, no matter what the trials and tribulations, Frog and Toad rise to the occasion,” Lanford said.

Harris and Lanford said the music faculty at Highlands is amazing.

“The music professors are prestigious and very knowledgeable, going the extra mile to share what they know and help students grow and succeed,” said Harris, who is president for the HU Singers and Performing Arts Club.

The Department of Music’s choral director, Andre Garcia-Nuthmann, is the  production’s musical director and also accompanies on piano. Music professor Edward Harrington plays bass and Mike Campbell, the Las Vegas City Schools choir director and a Highlands alumni, plays percussion.

Highlands theater professor Don Evans is the artistic and technical director. He also helped students design the set. Vick Evans is the production manager.

Tickets for “A Year With Frog and Toad” are $3 for children 12 and younger; $10 for general admission; and $5 for seniors, and Highlands faculty and staff. Students with school ID are free.