By Jenna Goff
Georgia Shakespeare’s newest production for families, The Frog Prince, is a locally produced retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm tale. From the music and lyrics to the actors on stage, all involved in the creation of the show hail from the Atlanta area.
Allen O’Reilly, the show’s director, has been a name in local theater for many years. “I’ve done 24 seasons with Georgia Shakespeare as an actor,” he said. “And I’ve been involved in probably every children’s theater in town.”
O’Reilly calls The Frog Prince one of the best children’s productions he’s been involved with. “It is a highly, highly entertaining show,” he said. “The score, the acting ability, and the set are all remarkable.”
Jennifer Bauer-Lyons, managing director with Georgia Shakespeare, agrees that the show — one of two the theater is staging in July — is truly special. “Unlike our shows that have featured music in the past, this play is a full-on musical,” she said. “Our performances will be its world premier.”
Melanie Martin Long, a local playwright and lyricist, wrote the show, and James Woodward, an Atlanta-based musician, provided the music. “Long took the best parts of the story to create a lively, fun and funny version,” said O’Reilly. “And Woodward’s score will have people humming the tunes long after they’ve left the theater.”
At the heart of it, though, the show still remains a classic fairy tale. Audiences will find many aspects of the Grimm story that they have come to love.
The production follows the relationship between Princess Alaina and the Frog Prince, both portrayed by student actors from local universities. After the princess loses her golden ball in a well, she promises her friendship to the frog if he will retrieve it. This promise is quickly broken, but as the frog sticks around, Alaina begins to realize he is more than meets the eye.
“There are some scary aspects and some great, magical aspects,” Bauer-Lyons said. “And like every fairy tale, there are life lessons to be learned.”
In addition to “The Frog Prince,” Georgia Shakespeare is staging a show for adults in July. “One Man, Two Guvnors” runs July 9 to July 27.
These lessons can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. While the show is aimed at children, O’Reilly thinks that adults will get a kick out of it, too. “The show is the best kind of children’s theater,” he said. “Children will enjoy the humor, the music, and the story, but adults will get some jokes and have a good time, too.”
The quality of the show even parallels that of an adult production. “It is a main stage show, so no expenses have been spared,” said Bauer-Lyons. “Like all our shows, it is a high-quality, full production.”
From the local talent behind the scenes to onstage, all have been working hard. “It’s a big show,” said O’Reilly. “It’s not a normal children’s show where you have a box and some costumes. This is different. It’s a real musical.”
What: Georgia Shakespeare‘s productions of The Frog Prince and One Man, Two Guvnors
Where: Georgia Shakespeare at Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Rd., NE, Brookhaven, 30319
When: The Frog Prince runs through July 26; One Man, Two Guvnors runs from July 9-27
How much: general admission for The Frog Prince is $10; tickets for One Man, Two Guvnors range from $15 to $35
For more info: www.gashakespeare.org