Strathmore brings a wide variety of performances to its spacious Music Center each month, from the Tango Buenos Aires: Song of Eva Perón, which performs there tomorrow, to the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra with Simone Dinnerstein on piano, which takes the stage this coming Sunday.
On Sunday, February 22nd, however, they had Imago Theatre’s Broadway sensation Frogz, hopping over the apron and into the audience. Its visual feast proves that human beings can transform themselves into anything they want, as long as they have the will, the right kind of lighting, and a costume and mask to suit.
Just to be clear, Frogz begins with three large frogs stretching and belching center stage, but then quickly turns to lizards and fishes and accordions and large balls of lint and…. In other words, Frogz is not a story about three green amphibians, but a smorgasbord of delightful visual inventions that celebrate the theatrical imagination.
Created and directed by Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, Frogz engrosses its audience not with words but movement, dance, acrobats, and gesture, all in the service of creating creatures only the imagination could produce. Consisting of more than a dozen or so acts, each “skit” or “invention” offers the audience its own mini-story.
Five performers create this remarkable variety of creatures and, in the process, demonstrate an incredible dexterity, as they combine the dancer’s grace with the acrobat’s balance and prowess. The ensemble consists of Jonathan Godsey, Pratik Motwani, Kaician Jade Kitko, Tera Nova Zarra, and Mark Mullaney. Each performer brings their own unique talent to the mix. Their interactions with the audience were definitely some of the most memorable moments in the show.
Jeff Forbes lighting design helps transform the “fabrications,” designed by Carol Triffle, Jerry Mouawad, and Cati Thomas into creatures large and small, such as when we meet the baby and the dust balls, with the adult parents being nothing more than extra large people depicted only from the waist down.
The original music by Katie Griesar adds a refreshing energy to the proceedings, particularly when the five penguins play a rousing game of musical chairs, complete with all the beak-poking stare-downs that one might assume accompany a second grade class.
Then, in one of the most unique acts of the evening, George Smith provides wonderful illustrations to the scrolling movie tale of a Cowboy’s sad demise, with a hand-cranked TV replacing the cowboy’s head.
Frogz definitely celebrates the theatrically possible when it comes to visual invention. The variety show format allows an anything-goes event. I just can’t wait to see these theatrical inventor take these techniques and turn it into a single tale of visually physical theatre.
Then they will have a spectacle of real genius.
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, with an intermission.